Sporty styling, chunky angles. The new 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport takes aim at two-row, midsize crossovers models, including the Ford Edge, Honda Passport, Nissan Murano, Chevrolet Blazer, and Jeep Grand Cherokee. VW hopes that it can make a bigger dent than the regular, three-row Atlas has been able to in its segment.

The Atlas Cross Sport features several styling changes that give it a more muscular look than the standard Atlas. A sporty grille, LED headlights, a raked roofline, and a fresh fascia are among its defining features. The available R-Line variants deliver their own special touches, including unique front and rear bumpers, 20-inch wheels, and a black rear spoiler.

Two rows, more cargo space. Based on the same wheelbase as the three-row Atlas, the two-row Atlas Cross Sport makes great use of the room at hand. We’ve long lauded the original Atlas for its useful space for seven, but the Atlas Cross Sport offers excellent space for five adults. The second row sits a few inches further behind the front row, giving passengers enough space to cross their legs.

The standard cargo volume measures an impressive 40.3 cubic feet, but then that’s just over 2 cubic feet more than the smaller Volkswagen Tiguan. Still, it can fit a week’s worth of stuff for five.

Fold down the rear seat, and there is nearly 78 cubic feet of cargo space at your disposal. That’s large enough to haul your garage sale finds or pack up the Atlas Cross Sport with all your garden needs. Also, with the optional engine and a tow hitch, the Atlas Cross Sport can pull up to 5,000 pounds.

Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Creature comforts we love and expect. Most manufacturers are doing a laudable job of supplying us with the creature comforts we expect. The Atlas Cross Sport is no exception with its standard imitation leather seating surfaces, 10-way power driver’s seat, and ample supply of cupholders.

VW turns things up a notch beginning with the SE trim, which swaps out the standard air conditioning for dual-zone climate control. A leather-wrapped, multi-function steering wheel, and keyless entry with push button start are also included.

On the tech side of things, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display comes standard. It’s bundled with a USB port, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker audio system. Among the upgrades include an 8-inch touchscreen (every model but the base S trim come with this), navigation, additional USB ports, and a sweet-sounding 12-speaker Fender audio system.

On the safety front, the Atlas includes automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Available features include lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. For comparison, the midsize Toyota Highlander supplies these features as standard equipment.

Average power. Like the standard Atlas, the Atlas Cross Sport comes with a standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It delivers 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Turbo lag is evident, especially under full throttle. Once spooled, there's adequate power at the ready. Take note of the engine whine, which doesn’t offer the gruff of the available V6.

Upgrading to the 3.6-liter V6 is the better choice, as it delivers 276 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque with authority. Yet, the V6's performance numbers are below average for the segment. For instance, the Chevrolet Traverse delivers 310 hp for the same size engine. Keep in mind that you can't choose the V6 with the two lowest trims – it becomes available beginning with the SE with Technology Package.

We like Volkswagen’s all-wheel-drive system. It's available with both engines, and there's only a slight loss of fuel economy, too.

Final thoughts. The 2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport is 5 inches shorter overall, but just as roomy inside as the standard Atlas. Start your search with the SE trim and you’ll have access to many of the amenities you usually find in this segment. Upgrading to the V6 and opting for all-wheel drive is ideal for anyone who regularly tows.

Check prices for the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport »