Based on the boxy Atlas, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport adopts a more rakish design but loses the third row of seats in the process. Other than that, the Cross Sport is nearly identical to its brother. Even the powertrain options are the same: A 235-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter is standard, and a 276-hp 3.6-liter V-6 is optional. Both come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. Despite the lower roofline and abbreviated rear end, the Atlas Cross Sport offers plenty of space for both passengers and cargo. But while the Atlas Cross Sport is a nicely packaged mid-size SUV, we find that rivals such as the Honda Passport and Jeep Grand Cherokee offer more appeal.
What’s New for 2021?
Volkswagen’s mid-size two-row SUV sees no significant changes for 2021.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We’d spec the SE model and tack on the optional Technology package, which includes automatic climate control, faux-leather upholstery, passive entry, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen. We’d also opt for the V-6 over the standard turbocharged four-cylinder. That adds $1400 to the price. And we’d probably choose the $1900 all-wheel-drive system. Shoppers who plan on pulling anything with the Atlas Cross Sport will want to get the V-6 Towing package, too.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Of the two powertrains offered, we’ve tested only the 3.6-liter V-6 with front-wheel drive. Delivering a 7.5-second 60-mph time, it proved to be slightly quicker than a similarly equipped three-row Atlas. While we haven’t tested the 235-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, that powertrain pushed the three-row VW to 60 in 7.1 seconds. During our test drive, we found the Cross Sport lacks the sporty driving dynamics that its fastback rear end would suggest. The ride quality is less refined than expected, too, with the wheels pounding over every imperfection and pothole they cross.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The four-cylinder Atlas Cross Sport comes with EPA fuel-economy ratings of 21 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined for the front-wheel-drive model and 18, 23, and 20 mpg, respectively, for the all-wheel-drive version. The V-6 is thirstier, with ratings of 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined for the front-driver. The all-wheel-drive model with the six-cylinder returns the same combined rating but drops to 16 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. On our 200-mile highway loop, the front-drive V-6 Atlas Cross Sport averaged 25 mpg, nearly 10 percent better than what the EPA suggests.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Those familiar with the three-row VW will find the Atlas Cross Sport’s interior quite familiar, despite an updated steering wheel and stitched door panels. Adults should find comfortable seating positions in either of the SUV’s available rows of seats, but unlike the regular Atlas, the Cross Sport offers only a bench for its second row. We have yet to see how many carry-on suitcases will fit in the cargo hold, but we expect the Cross Sport to offer similar cargo space to the Ford Edge and the Hyundai Santa Fe.
Infotainment and Connectivity
All Atlas Cross Sports come with a touchscreen infotainment display providing both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Navigation is optional, as is a reconfigurable gauge display and SiriusXM satellite radio. VW’s Car-Net connectivity app allows for remote starting and analytics. Plus, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot lets occupants remain connected to the internet while on the go.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have released crash-test results for the Atlas Cross Sport. For what it’s worth, the Atlas three-row SUV received decent marks from both agencies. Volkswagen is equipping all Atlas Cross Sports with automated emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring, but if you want more advanced driver-assistance features, you’ll have to go with one of the higher trim levels. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with forward-collision warning
- Standard blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross-traffic alert
- Available adaptive cruise control with a semi-autonomous driving mode
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
While most mainstream brands start with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty, Volkswagen offers a four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper policy. The powertrain warranty falls behind others, which stretch to five or even 10 years. As some consolation, VW covers the first two years of scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for two years or 20,000 miles
More Features and Specs