Being big enough to accommodate four-to-five adults and their stuff is a measurement that one should start with.
SUVs come in all shapes and sizes lately. It is becoming hard to classify which one goes into a certain sub-segment.
In the case of the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, we know it’s a two-row mid-size SUV. Some may argue that it’s too big to compete with other in the same classification. I have to disagree.
Being big enough to accommodate four-to-five adults and their stuff is a measurement that one should start with. Of course, that measurement is always relative to your actual needs.
In the case of the V&R Machine (our 2021 Mazda CX-5), it is perfect for this publication’s needs. However, my measurement of “needs” tends to run a bit larger. I have things to put into the cargo hold, such as a mobility device (or two), my luggage, a camping chair, Boomer, and other human beings.
With that in mind, I’m afraid the V&R Machine is not going to cut it. So, it’s the Atlas Cross Sport.
We’re talking theoretically here. But, having one in to work with created a test of whether the Atlas Cross Sport can do what I hope it would do.
We saw the newly revised 2024 Atlas Cross Sport at the Chicago Auto Show, along with its three-row sibling. It followed the current design conventions at Volkswagen with the enlarged grille, improved LED lightning front and back, and just a few tweaks to an otherwise brawny and handsome SUV.
Some people might not like the fastback-like roofline at the rear. It does narrow your rearward vision, but there are ways to adjust to it. At least it’s not a pseudo-trendy SUV coupe. The overall exterior is highly functional with superb access for passengers and cargo.
The tester we got was the SEL Premium R-Line – the top of the range. It wore a set of 21-inch wheels with all-season tires, R badging on the grille, and LED illumination for the logo, grille trim, and the rear logo. This trim level mixes sportiness with luxury and a high level of features.
For 2024, Volkswagen gave the Atlas lineup an all-new dashboard. It includes a new Digital Cockpit instrument cluster with a wide variety of customized views and information. Controls are tactile from the steering wheel to below the beltline. Controlling the automatic transmission is through a new toggle on the center console, along with a new ignition button. You also get customizable ambient lighting that will match the instrument cluster with the etched Cross Sport motif on the passenger side of the dashboard.
The MIB3 infotainment system is controlled from a 12.0-inch tablet-like touchscreen sitting on top of the center stack. You have a few haptic touch sliding controls below it for both climate and audio functions. Harman Kardon provided a quality sound throughout the cabin from a choice of playback options. Wireless smartphone integration and charging is also part of the infotainment package.
The one thing I love about the Atlas Cross Sport is its interior volume. It will fit five adults comfortably with loads of leg and headroom. The black leather seats are in a quilt pattern with the perforations tinged in blue along with light-colored piping. The front seats offer support, but do not induce any fatigue after a few hours on the road. You also get 40.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which is expandable to 77.6 cubic feet.
Where the Atlas Cross Sport comes t life is underneath the hood. The EA888 turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder puts down 268 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. These numbers may be off, because this engine punches above the 4,400-pound curb weight. There has to be more power than its rated – perhaps in the Arteon or Golf R power figures? In other words, this Atlas Cross Sport truly flies, but it also cruises very nicely. The Atlas Cross Sport can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
An eight-speed automatic bridges the EA888 to the 4Motion all-wheel drive system. You do have a choice of drive modes to enhance this driveline, including Sport, Offroad, and Snow. I tried the offroad on some dirt and gravel roads and it did well in keeping traction down on these surfaces – even with the all-season tires.
In terms of fuel economy, we observed an average of 22.0 MPG with a solid mix of driving.
While providing a solid ride, the only complaint we will offer is on the 21-inch wheels and tires on this SEL Premium R-Line tester. They look great, but they are quite noisy and sent feedback with every inch of rougher road. On very smooth surfaces and on gravel/dirt roads, they were not as bad. With a smaller wheel and taller profile, the Atlas Cross Sport would offer a better ride overall.
Handling-wise, the Atlas Cross Sport was very good. It yielded nominal lean and roll in the turns and corners. Wheel response was quite good, and the system yielded a good turning radius. WE found the steering wheel solid with good on-center feel. The same can be said for the brake pedal and its response to the wheels. We found the system returned good stops on normal and panic situations.
As I mentioned before, the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport SEL Premium R-Line is the top trim of the five offered in this two-row mid-size SUV. Pricing starts from $36,715. This tester came with a sticker price of $50,320.
The 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport was designed and engineered to live large. It will also fit everything you need for future adventures. These are the measurements you need to take when shopping for an SUV.
The best measurement is when you press the accelerator pedal. That EA888 will tell you that you may have picked the right choice. That, plus, filling its large cargo hold with everything you intend to take with you on any given adventure.
The next time you measure your “needs” in a vehicle, try the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport for size.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Volkswagen of America
All photos by Randy Stern