VW Atlas Cross Sport – First Look At “The Social Utility Vehicle”
Story & Images By: James Groth – Green Car Journal
Volkswagen America, Inc chose its ultra modern factory in Chattanooga, TN to reveal its 2020 midsize Social Utility Vehicle to the press against the backdrop of the inaugural Chattanooga Motorcar Festival. VW seeing a niche for a sporting version of their successful Atlas seven-seater will introduce the Cross Sport as a stylish coupe-like five-seater next spring. Ride and drives along with pricing will be set closer to the 2020 spring introduction.
Based on all the items included in the VW Car-Net suite for MY20 VW calls its new model a “Social Utility Vehicle” Connected features will be upgraded with a long list of no-charge services for five years. New features and options are accessible via mobile app and include remote start and stop, locking and unlocking, fuel levels, and the mall favorite, last parked location. Coming too is the ability of VW Car-Net to connect with smart home devices. Car-Net “Hotspot” offers 4G LTE simultaneously for four connected devices.
The driver assist suite includes Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control, Stop and Go and Park Distance Control. Coming for city residents is Traffic Jam Assist. Los Angeles drivers could use this on our slow moving freeways to keep from rear-ending other cars after dosing off from not moving. I have witnessed this on the 405 freeway numerous times. TJA operates from 0-37 mph and will bring the Atlas Cross Sport to a full stop when conditions demand it.
Green Car Journal followers will be pleased to learn that VW expects to receive an $800 million investment to produce electric vehicles in Chattanooga, TN. For now there are two engine choices a 276-hp V6 and a 235-hp four-cylinder turbocharged and direct-injected TSI engine. Both engines have an eight-speed auto transmission and VW 4Motion all-wheel-drive is available. The V6 has an optional towing package rated at 5,000 pounds.
The Cross Sport differentiates from the Atlas seven-seater with a new bumper, a three-bar chrome grill and sculpted hood. The most distinctive front-end feature is the light signature that travels to the middle of the grill. The most noticeable difference is the steeply raked rear pillar and hatch giving the Cross Sport its coupe-like profile.
The rear has new tail lights and a sculpted bumper with chrome accents. Chrome accents along the lower body sides enhance its lowered stance. Adding to its presence are optional 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. I can attest that the rear seating with 40.4 in. of legroom is generous enough for six-footers. Cross Sport gets upgraded to include a new steering wheel with more intuitive controls and a series of optional stitching accents for the seats, wheel and doors.
Size wise, the Cross Sport in 2.8 inches shorter and 2.3 inches lower than the current Atlas while retaining the same 78.3 in. width.
VW was able to maintain most of the interior space, even with the sleeker roof line by retaining the same 117.3-inch wheelbase (the seven-seater space at 111.8 cu ft and cargo space is 40.3 cu ft). When the second seat is folded, cargo space grows to a highly usable configuration of 77.8 cu ft.
VW was also keen on showcasing the people that build their vehicles and gave a full tour to their modern plant that had originally opened in 2011. The Atlas Cross Sport alone represents a $340 million additional investment in VW’s plans to build vehicles in Tennessee. To date VW has invested over $2.6 billion in the area which currently has 3,800 employees.