Susan Frissell, Editor, womenwithwheels.com
It’s no secret that this auto writer isn’t a big SUV fan. But driving this 2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport was an exception; or so I’m discovering this week. I didn’t expect to like it but found it quite comfortable and easy to maneuver despite its size.
It may seem odd to non-car people that manufacturers offer so many models, styles, of vehicle. But it makes sense as all drivers don’t like the same type of vehicle, how it handles, how it looks. No question, VW is a brand of its own. Not as posh, not as ‘upscale,” or sought after, although no question, VW has its supporters. Of course, I loved the Beetle and the GTI is one of the most fun cars to drive. But this good-size SUV? Never know what might appeal.
No matter. I felt very comfortable driving the Atlas Cross Sport. It’s easy to operate, doesn’t feel oversized, and it is quiet and smooth. Doors didn’t feel too heavy, the step up was manageable. One thing we noticed is that the seat, if not lowered a fair amount, can send the driver into the ceiling. I’m not a tall person but found my head was grazing the ceiling if the power seat was too high.
We spent a week in the 3-row VW Atlas and didn’t like it as much. Too big for our taste, so the Cross Sport appealed more. This writer expected-and has read that the ride in the Atlas is ‘less refined,’ however, we found it surprisingly smooth over most roads and bumps. Also noticeable was the roominess of the second-row seating area.
The VW Atlas is available in two engine choices: the 2.0T 4-cylinder and 3.6-Liter VR6. All available in FWD or AWD. Our test Atlas was all-wheel-drive which came in handy after more than a foot of snow in Indy. Pricing for the 2021 Atlas Cross Sport seems very reasonable. Starting at $30,545 for the 2.0T FWD, $32,445 for the 2.0T AWD, $37,345 for the FWD 3.6L and $39,245 for the 3.6L AWD.
Of the two powertrains offered, our press vehicle came equipped with the the 3.6-liter V-6 with front-wheel drive. It proved to be slightly quicker than a similarly equipped three-row Atlas. We haven’t tested the 235-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, the powertrain in the three-row VW to Atlas. Although called the “Cross Sport” there isn’t a lot that’s ‘sporty” about the Atlas. It’s an SUV. This version does, however, have a sportier look with its fastback styling.
Interiors of both the three-row Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport are similar. A couple of updates include the steering wheel and stitched door panels. Seating positions are comfortable for all sizes and leg room is plentiful. The Cross Sport is available only with a rear bench seat. Cargo space appears large enough to hold carry-ons and other necessities.There are no significant changes in the Atlas for 2021. It can be had in several trim levels, including S ($32,050), SE ($35,400), SEL ($42,820), SEL R-line ($44,520), SEL Premium ($47,720), SEL Premium R-Line ($51,220).
Direct competition for the Atlas includes the Toyota Sequoia, Mazda CX-9, Honda Pilot and Chevrolet Tahoe, KIA Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Sorento, Honda Passport.
Other important features on the Atlas include standard blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert, standard automated emergency braking with forward collision warning.
All Atlas Cross Sport trim levels are equipped with a touchscreen infotainment display, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Nav is optional and is in reconfigurable gauge display and Sirius XM Satellite radio. VW’s own program-Car-Net connectivity app-provides remote start and analytics. Drivers are able to connect to the internet through 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Standard features on the Atlas Cross Sport include 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, full LED lighting, front Assist, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Traffic Alert and next-generation Car-Net with Wi-FI capability.
Available features include VW Digital Cockpit, 20-and-21-inch wheels, heated rear seats, leather seating surfaces, Adaptive Front0light System, ACC Lane Assist, Traffic Jam Assist, Dynamic Road Sign Display, remote start and Easy Open rear hatch.
The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is a reasonably priced, nice looking SUV. We prefer the 2-row seating but for those seeking a little more space, opt for the 3-row. As noted above, there are plenty of trim levels from which to choose. The exterior styling is handsome, cargo space is generous and the cabin roomy. Fuel economy may not be the best, nor is the VW warranty as good as the competition. But, we think it’s well-priced and for those accustomed to a VW vehicle and are looking for a SUV, check out the Atlas.
Cost: $32,445, destination $1,020
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TSI. 235 @1,600 rpm horsepower, 258@1,600 torque
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Curb weight: 4,288 lbs.
Wheelbase: 117.3 in.
Height: 67.8 in.
Width: 78.3 in.
Length: 195.5 in.
Fuel economy: 18/23/20
Warranty: 4 yr/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper; 4 yr/50,000 powertrain; 2 yr/20,00 miles Complimentary maintenance