Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
While visiting upstate New York in the Catskill Mountains I had a chance to experience Volkswagen’s latest trio of Atlas midsize SUVs while focusing on their outdoor-active personas. Represented by the 2024 VW Atlas, 2024 VW Atlas Cross Sport, and 2024 VW Atlas Peak Edition, the German SUVs are actually made for the American market, built in the United States at the company’s Chattanooga plant, and represent Volkswagen of America’s most profitable and number one selling nameplate. Think of Atlas as VW’s SUV flagship.
Launched in 2016, the Atlas is a three-row, 7-seater situated as the ultimate travel SUV for large households, while the Peak Edition is a spinoff of the Atlas with rugged styling cues such as all-terrain tires and side scuff plates. For my analysis of the Atlas brand, I specifically focused on Atlas Cross Sport as the outlier cousin of the family that seeks sporty adventures at every destination. Offered in five Cross Sport trims — Atlas SE ($36,715), Atlas SE with Tech (the $40,655 volume seller), Atlas SEL ($47,435), Atlas SEL R-Line ($48,885), and the Atlas SEL-Premium R-Line ($51,445) — the 2024 models are refreshed with smarter and fresher interiors, enhanced exteriors, and a more dominant turbocharged 4-cylinder that combines the best of the two prior engines. Each trim is packaged or available with 4Motion AWD!
Design and Styling
I particularly prefer the edgy and stylish demeanor of the curvilinear 5-seater Cross Sport. It looks great from every angle and the wheels (up to 21s) are pushed to the corners for increased agility. However, there is no coincidence here since VV’s ownership of elite brands like Audi and Lamborghini has trickled down; certainly, you can observe the silhouette of the Audi Q8 in the Atlas Cross Sport variant. Aggressive fender flares surround those massive wheels, black body cladding adds ruggedness, and silver and black trim provide unique contrast, especially when paired with the new Kingfisher Blue hue, making the silhouette pop. The front fascia commingles LED headlights that connect with a flashy LED light bar. The illuminated VW logo centralized on the gloss black grille is a smooth touch and the expansive panoramic two-piece sunroof is available on some models and standard on others. In the rear, a grander tailgate spoiler has been applied along with LED taillamps, an illuminated lightbar, and a lit VW logo.
Power and Performance
Going from two engines (4-cylinder and VR6) to a one-engine platform, VW is utilizing the heroics of the VW Group’s familiar 2-liter turbo 4-cylinder distributing 269-horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque without the requirement of premium fuel. Of course, it is tuned to mobilize a sizable SUV and feels good on the road. The numbers do not sound impressive, especially for the 7-seater Atlas, but the midsize SUV is not short of power and pairs with an 8-speed automatic transmission featuring various drive modes such as Sport, Eco, Comfort, Custom, Offroad, and Snow. In Sport mode digital exhaust notes sound off and the steering is supposed to tighten. But it felt too light in all modes for a trailblazing crossover. However, VW says the vehicle is .8 seconds faster. The Atlas Cross Sport also tows 5,000 pounds which bests both prior powertrains. Plan on 20 city and 27 hwy mpg for the FWD models and 19 city and 26 hwy mpg for the 4Motion AWD models.
Arguably, the most impressive Atlas updates come from within, where VW went all out to appease new owners. The cockpit features a floating center console with underneath storage, soft-touch surfaces and sliding controls for volume and temperature, a leatherette-wrapped dash, available 30-color ambient lighting, wide metal pedals, a sporty flat-bottom steering wheel, and standard three-zone Climatronic control. But there’s much more to enjoy in the comfortable and energizing cabin as I felt comforted by the array of amenities. VW provides the Atlas Cross Sport with a heated steering wheel, voice recognition, wireless App-Connect, wireless charging, ventilated front seats, a gear-by-wire shifting tab opposed to the standard hand shifter, all USB-c ports, and intuitive technology from the 12” multimedia display and 10.25” customizable Volkswagen Digital Cockpit Pro. Lastly, Harmon Kardon premium audio with a rear subwoofer was the sound system of choice on the Cross Sport SEL-Premium R-Line that I drove. And did I mention that the SUV has remote start?
Available in VW dealerships in late summer, the 2024 Atlas Cross Sport is jam-packed with safety mechanisms and packages. It is loaded with every autonomous system imaginable such as IQ.Drive with Adaptive Cruise Control Stop & Go, Front Assist, Active Side Assist, Lane Assist, and Emergency Assist. It also features Park Distance Control, Park Assist, Light Assist, Dynamic Road Sign Display, Head-up Display, Rearview Camera, and much more. VW ensured to engineer the Cross Sport with as much intelligence as possible to keep all occupants well-protected.
Atlas Peak Edition
For individuals wanting to set their Atlas apart from the crowd, opt for the Atlas Peak Edition, highlighting enhanced and rugged exterior elements. Two new colors include Avocado Green and Pure Gray that flow with black 18” alloy rims and Continental CrossContact all-terrain tires, black and silver body cladding, blacked-out exterior details, and a unique, curated interior. However, this is not a performance package, so do not expect hardcore off-roading.
The 2024 VW Atlas Cross Sport is a gem in the sporty, active SUV department and does not present many flaws. I was enamored with this package and look forward to spending more road-tripping time with the VW SUV when it hits the streets.