By Larry Lark, contributor
The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport full-size SUV has been refreshed for the 2021 model year and now offers a bolder design, interior upgrades, advanced connectivity, new driver-assist features and broadened powertrain availability.
My tester was the V6 SEL Premium R-Line, the top-of-the-line Atlas.
Atlas is available in eight trim levels — S, SE, SE w/ Technology, SE w/ Technology R-Line, SEL, SEL R-Line (sold order only), SEL Premium and SEL Premium R-Line (sold order only). For the first time, the turbocharged four-cylinder engine is available on top trims, and all-wheel drive is available with both the turbocharged four-cylinder and VR6 engines.
That’s quite a menu. Base models start at around $31,000 and my fully loaded model just crosses the $50k threshhold. Atlas seats seven adults in comfort, and delivers 23 miles per gallon down the highway as estimated by the EPA.
Powered by a 3.6-liter, 24-valve, DOHC narrow-angle V6 engined paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It also came with Tiptronic 4MOTION, making it all-wheel drive versatile. The direct-injection engine delivers 276 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 266 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm. The engine utilizes a crossflow aluminum-alloy cylinder head design, twin overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing.
Atlas Cross Sport adds more aggressively-styled front and rear bumpers. A bold three-bar grille extends into the front light signature, creating a more sophisticated presence. The sportier R-Line trim incorporates stylish air intakes at the front, and a diffusor in glossy black paint at the rear, as well as side skirts, emphasizing its premium profile.
All Atlas models with 4Motion all-wheel drive feature Active Control, which allows the driver to select specific vehicle profiles based on driving conditions. It has four settings: On-road, Snow, Off-road, and Custom Off-road. Within the On-road setting, additional options are offered: Normal, Sport, Comfort, and Individual. These alter operating parameters for drive systems like the engine, transmission, steering, and adaptive cruise control, as well as traction-assistance systems like hill descent assist and hill start assist.
The interior design of the Atlas is classic Volkswagen—clean and functional, with a premium feel. Driver controls are positioned for easy use, and simple, driver-centric displays enhance involvement behind the wheel.
Atlas makes maximum use of its three-row seating layout to offer space. The model delivers a cavernous 153.7 cu-ft of total passenger volume with front captain’s chairs, and second- and third-row bench seats.
Across all three rows, an array of available inputs (12V, USB, auxiliary), cup holders, bottle holders, storage nets, and cargo containers provide convenience for all passengers. Atlas has a maximum cargo volume of 96.8 cu-ft behind the front-row seats when all rear seats are folded down. With just the third-row folded, cargo capacity is 55.5 cu-ft, and with all seats up, cargo capacity is 20.6 cu-ft.
Creature comforts are not lacking – in fact – they are delivered in spades. My favorites were the
Fender premium audio system with 480 watts and 12 speakers, hands-free power lift gate, wireless charging, dual-zone climate control, and ambient lighting. But that just scratches the surface.
The Atlas Cross Sport is completed with safety and drive assistance technology to provide a sense of security for your most precious cargo – family. IQ Drive features lane assist, emergency assist, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear view camera and a security system.
Base Price: $49,970
Price As Driven: $51,615
Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.