Volkswagen pulled the wraps off its newest midsize, five-seater SUV for the North American market, the 2020 Atlas Crossover Sport, at the automaker's assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee Friday morning.
The "baby Atlas" aims to further Volkswagen's strategy of doubling up its SUV and crossover offerings in North America, with the Atlas Cross Sport being the third SUV in VW's current lineup but just one of two all-new vehicles to join the segment in the coming years. According to VW, a new compact SUV that will fit below the Tiguan will follow in the near future.
The Atlas Cross Sport rides on the three-row Atlas' 117.3-inch wheelbase, but it's 2.8 inches shorter and sits 2.3 inches lower. Despite the similarities with its big brother, the Atlas Cross Sport boasts a modern styling that's synonymous with Volkswagen. For example, a three-bar chrome grille shares the brand's established design language, but a stylized new light signature gives us a sneak peek at the future of VW styling.
The overall design is reminiscent of the concept that was shown at the 2018 New York Auto Show, with a sculpted hood, sleek roofline, and muscular wheel arches resembling its show-going counterpart. Furthermore, the R-Line model shown at the reveal ups the ante with 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, lower front air scoops, and darkened accents on the grilles, vents, trim, and wheels.
“Building off the success of the Atlas seven-seater midsize SUV, we see an opportunity for a five-seater model that offers even more style and almost as much interior space,” Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America said at the reveal. “We look forward to entering this growing segment with the Atlas Cross Sport, which offers outstanding Volkswagen technology, driver-assist features, style, and value.”
Customers will have the option to choose from two different powertrains: a Tiguan-derived 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged that produces 235 horsepower, and an Atlas-plucked 3.6-liter V6 that makes 235 horsepower. VW claims that both powertrains will pair to an eight-speed automatic transmission and will feature front-wheel-drive standard, while 4Motional all-wheel-drive will be optional. Equipped with the V6 Towing Package, the Atlas Cross Sport with the V6 engine will be able to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Inside, a brand-new steering wheel with new built-in controls will debut in the Atlas Cross Sport, as well as a new interior design theme. New high-tech offerings like wireless charging, 12-speaker Fender Premium Audio System, and our favorite, VW's Digital Cockpit will also adorn the cabin. Select trims will feature stitching accents on the seats, door inserts, and dashboard—similar to the upper-end trims of the Tiguan and Atlas.
In terms of safety technology, VW Car-Net will allow customers to control certain aspects of the vehicle remotely via smartphone such as remote start, door lock and unluck, honk the horn, flash the lights, fuel level, window status, and parking location. The feature also includes a hotspot feature that allows up to four connected devices simultaneously. Car-Net will be available at no cost for model years 2020 for the first five years of ownership.
The Atlas Cross Sport will feature forward collision warning with autonomous braking, rear traffic alert, and blind-spot monitoring standard. Higher trims will feature adaptive cruise control with stop and go feature and park distance control. Furthermore, two new additional driver-assistance features will debut in the Atlas Sport Cross: traffic jam assist (TJA) and dynamic road sign display.
TJA uses the front camera and radar to help maintain a safe following distance from the car in front during high traffic situations. The system works between 0 to 37 miles per hour and can bring the SUV to a full stop when traffic conditions require so. If traffic starts moving again within three seconds, the system restarts the vehicle into the flow.
Dynamic road sign display will display speed limits, no-passing zones, school zones and work zones on the infotainment screen and instrument panel when detected by the front camera and navigation data. It can also detect and warn with multiple signs when appropriate, if applicable.
The all-new SUV will launch in the Spring of 2020 and be available in eight trim levels: S, SE, SE with Tech, SE with Tech R-Line, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL Premium, and SEL Premium R-Line. Pricing will be announced ahead of its reveal.
According to Volkswagen, the addition of the Atlas Cross Sport to the Chattanooga assembly facility will represent an additional investment of $340 million. That figure is on top of the $2.6 billion already invested in the area, which already houses approximately 3,800 direct employees. Currently, the VW Passat and Atlas are built at the facility, but will it see the addition of the new Atlas Cross Sport and new electric vehicles in the near future.