A massive interior space, combined with great infotainment and phone apps
You’re tall. You have teenagers who are growing faster than dandelions. They’re broad of shoulder, too. Oh, and you have a Malamute who loves to go bye-byes-in-the-car-car. What kind of SUV should you buy if you have such a big—in the dimensional if not ordinal sense—family? One answer: The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport.
As two-row midsize SUVs go, the Atlas Cross Sport is a beast built to carry beasts and men. I’m 6 feet tall, and I slid the driver’s seat back as far as my legs would stretch to reach the gas and brake pedals. In most SUVs, that would seriously compromise back seat room. But in this VW, not only was second-row ingress easy, but there remained acres of legroom. Seriously, we’re sprawling here.
What’s more, the back seats, while firm, have super-elegant reclining features. You can lean way back to where napping (or other extracurricular activities you’d likely prefer your teenager not perform) is easily achieved. Well done, VW.
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport: Cargo Space
Is cargo space compromised as a result? Not hardly.
The cargo area with the rear seats up is more than some SUVs have with the seats down, though the rakish roofline does impede on those last-to-load objects with a tall vertical presence. Once you fold flat the second-row seats, the Atlas Cross Sport displays an amazing amount of storage area. If what you’re carrying is large and flat, you would have a hard time finding a better vehicle to haul your stuff around. Big screen TVs, hockey sticks, sheets of lumber, flats of flowers, you name it. Other vehicles may boast more cubic feet of storage (ahem, Honda Passport), but sometimes it’s how the cubic feet are arrayed that makes the difference. Check your use case.
So, now you’ve fit everything and everyone for your road trip. What’s it like to interact with this people-mover?
For the driver, the three-spoke steering wheel—with its small airbag housing—gives the Atlas Cross Sport the sporting appearance to go with its name.
The front seats provide decent side bolstering, but our version lacked lumbar support, which could become fatiguing over a lengthy drive. What doesn’t fatigue is the cool contrast stitching—a gentle white on perforated black leatherette on the seats (and door cards as well). The center console bin measures approximately 8x10x6 inches, which can fit a small purse or plenty of knickknacks.
For further storage of small items, there is a recessed tray atop the dashboard. But while the sides and leading edge have vertical edges, the trailing side is canted like a skateboard ramp that will kickflip your phone into your lap under hard acceleration.
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport: Infotainment System
Want to tune out the adolescent gossip from the backseat? Some might want to pony up for the optional Fender/Panasonic stereo system, but the stock Jilin Hangsheng speakers are crisp and responsive in most audio dynamic ranges.
The layout of controls and switches is familiar Volkswagen design language—some might call it brand-consistent. Others might say, “It looks the same as what you get in a Jetta.” That said, the controls, buttons, switches, and knobs have that certain rewarding German practicality and precision.
VW’s digital cockpit is also featured, allowing you to replace the traditional instrument cluster with a large display screen. Similar to how sister brand Audi does it, you can even banish the traditional speedometer/tachometer dials to the corners for a full-screen navigation map.
The infotainment interface is straightforward and intuitive, and easily switches between VW’s native OS and that of your smartphone. The Atlas Cross Sport also includes three USB ports up front and two more in back. Plus, with the VW Car-Net app, you get a 4G LTE-enabled Wi-Fi hotspot with a one month/1GB trial subscription for up to four devices. Contact your mobile-service provider for extended data plans.
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport: Car Security
Car-Net also includes other cool phone-app controls, such as remote locking and engine start. The Family Guardian app can check up on a new driver in the family, with alerts that can monitor speeds, a boundary area, or even a curfew time. DriveView can even monitor certain behaviors such as hard braking, excess speed, or night driving. Now you have evidence about what your kid was up to when they saunter in the front door way too late.
There’s also a valet alert—a service that notifies you if the car travels more than 0.2 miles from its drop-off point. Trust me, this has happened to me a couple times; I would have loved such a feature.
In short, and in tall, the VW Atlas Cross Sport interior delivers a premium experience at a mainstream price.