NEW: Get Updates by Email

First Drive: 2024 Atlas Cross Sport – A Sportier Atlas?

by | April 2, 2024

The 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is attempting to inject more fun and vigor into Atlas model lineup with sportier styling inside and out. But does it succeed in checking all the boxes for SUV buyers looking for more flair in their daily commute? 

2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport gets new front end.

 The 2024 Volkswagen Atlas is attempting to rewrite the script for Volkswagen’s family hauler. The outgoing Atlas was good at delivering the core SUV essentials to buyers but the comfort and capability that it had was balanced out by exterior styling that was bland and an interior that was not compelling enough when compared to some of its rivals. Volkswagen wanted to change all that for 2024 and has made updates to both the three-row model and its style-focused two-row counterpart, the 2024 Atlas Cross Sport. 


Styling update gives Cross Sport new vigor 

The rear also gets a new liftgate design and revised lighting.

The entire Atlas lineup was updated for the 2024 model year with a major style revamp that saw the model get new front-end styling with the larger front grille flanked by updated LED headlights. In the case of the Cross Sport, it helps improve its character and allows this version of the Atlas to have a more cohesive look. The headlights also connect to an illuminated lightbar that incorporates a centrally mounted illuminated VW emblem. It helped give our SEL Premium R-Line tester a distinctive appearance at night and the setup is standard on all but the base Cross Sport. R-Line modes also get additional lighting elements in the lower front bumper. 

The sloping roofline is still the main draw for the Cross Sport, and it flows downward to the tweaked rear end which gets updated LED taillights and a reworked liftgate. The update also allowed all Atlas models to have bigger wheels for the new model year with the base model and the trail-focused Peak Edition now getting 18-inch wheels while higher trims get new 20 and 21-inch wheels respectively.  

The Cross Sport’s new clothes help improve its sporty credentials, but it still falls short of standing out against rivals like the Honda Passport and the Jeep Grand Cherokee which fully commit to their respective design themes and deliver a more balanced visual presentation too. 


Cross Sport interior gets better material quality

Higher quality materials define revamped Cross Sport cabin.

In addition to the exterior updates that it got for 2024, Volkswagen also gave the Atlas Cross Sport’s interior several updates to make it more upscale. Material quality has been improved and Volkswagen has also given the Atlas lineup more standard equipment including heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, tri-zone climate control, adjustable ambient lighting, and a leatherette adorned dashboard. Front seat room has been improved and while VW was kind enough to add heated rear seats as an option on higher trim levels, room in the second row is still tight for rear passengers due to the sloping rear roofline.  

The roof also forced the Cross Sport to lose its third-row seats, but the loss is balanced out by how much cargo the Cross Sport can swallow with our tester having 40.3 cubic feet of space with the seats up and 77.8 cubic feet of space when the second row is folded down. That’s more than the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Ford Edge but the VW comes up short against the Honda Passport which offers 100.3 cubic feet of space with its second-row seats folded down. 

A 12.0-inch infotainment system is standard on all models with the system featuring built-in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The screen also features built-in wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, but it’s marred by VW’s touch-sensitive controls which are frustrating to use and makes us wish VW would restore some analog controls to certain features to balance things out. A 4G Wifi hotspot and a wireless phone charging pad are also standard.  

 Four-cylinder performance focuses on fuel economy 

VW is giving all models a new four-cylinder engine.

A big gamble that Volkswagen made for 2024 is adopting a one engine lineup with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder being standard on all trim levels. The four-cylinder now produces 269 horsepower, which is 34 more than last year’s model but is down on power slightly when compared to the 276-hp VR6. 

The new four-cylinder allowed our tester to make the sprint to 60 mph in a commendable 7.7 seconds. The engine makes plenty of noise when pressed hard but when you allow it to operate in its comfort zone as a daily commuter, things smooth out and the engine becomes a good partner in city driving. An eight-speed automatic continues to be the sole transmission available. 

A main weakness that emerges on the Cross Sport as you spend more time with it is that while it looks sporty, it doesn’t deliver the same feeling when you push the SUV through more demanding sections of road. The SUV still has a fair amount of body roll and the steering is too light and floaty to get an accurate read of what the front tires are doing. The brakes on our R-Line tester delivered strong stops but we wished VW would have put in more feel in the brake pedal.  

That said, our tester made up for it by offering good fuel economy with the EPA saying that a front-wheel drive equipped Cross Sport can get 20/27/23 mpg in city/freeway/combined driving. That’s more city and freeway MPG than the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with the optional 4Motion all-wheel drive system causing mileage to dip to 19/26/22 mpg in the same categories. The rugged Peak Edition’s focus on providing more off-road capability also causes it to have the worst fuel economy of the bunch with that model getting 18/24/20 MPG in city/freeway/combined driving. 

More Volkswagen Stories

Final Word

Volkswagen says that interior occupants get more front and rear seat room.

Pricing for the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport starts at $38,410 for the base SE model with the 4Motion all-wheel drive system adding $1,900 to the sticker price for a revised total of $40,310. Our range-topping SEL Premium R-Line had a base price of $53,305 but a small pinch of optional extras helped push the final sticker to an as-tested total of $53,700. All pricing includes the $1,425 destination fee.  

When you look at the sum of its parts, the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is an improved SUV with the company doing a good job focusing on addressing many of the complaints buyers had about the old model. 

However, the one main ingredient that the 2024 Atlas Cross Sport is still missing is a distinct purpose. It still feels like it’s trying to do everything at once and that results in the SUV not standing out when compared to rivals like the Jeep Grand Cherokee which have a distinct identity and a core package of traits that it wants its customers to experience.  


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Mailing List is Live!
Get Updates by Email

Get on our list to receive the latest automotive news in your inbox!

Invalid email address
I would like to receive:
Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Share This