Regular readers know I have a healthy respect for the Volkswagen Atlas. Whether equipped with a V6 or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo, the Atlas is a solid if low-key choice in SUVs.
The Atlas Cross Sport is all of that---and less, which can be more, in life and in cars. Where the Atlas has three rows of seats, the Atlas Cross Sport has two. The rear overhang is shortened, the roofline at the back is raked rather than upright and the vehicle sits about an inch lower to the ground. The Atlas, with eight inches of ground clearance, just barely meets the minimum for any mild off-roading. At 7.1 inches, the Cross Sport is purely a pavement and bad weather machine, even when equipped with VW's 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
Our tester was equipped with the 3.6-liter V6 engine. 276 horsepower. Maybe half a second faster to 60 from a standing start than the two-liter turbo. EPA fuel economy estimate 18 miles per gallon city, 24 highway.
One advantage to the lack of a third-row seat in the Cross Sport is a cavernous cargo area, which becomes positively huge if you fold down the second row.
But VW didn't put it all on cargo. The rear seats are back a bit in the Cross Sport compared to the Atlas, resulting in additional legroom for the second-row passengers.
There are six trim levels of the Atlas Cross Sport. Our tester was one up from base level---the SE with Technology. The V6 engine is not available on the base SE, so this is where you have to start if you want that engine. Base price is $38,695 and that brings 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights, a rear window washer and wiper, a trailer hitch, dual-zone automatic climate control, V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces (the Dark Beige & Black color scheme is no extra cost), VW's digital cockpit, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with six speakers and wireless charging.
There was only one extra-cost option on our vehicle---taking those 20-inch alloy wheels and swapping them for black ones ($595). So, with $1,195 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport V6 SE w/Technology is $40,485.
That's a very reasonable price for the level of equipment. I'm inclined to think the added flexibility (passenger accommodation and off-road ability) of the regular Atlas might be the more practical choice, but if the style is what grabs you, the Atlas Cross Sport has a lot going for it.