The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is a midsize SUV.  But it joins its slightly larger sibling, the VW Atlas in the midsize SUV category.

Here’s the deal.  Atlas Cross Sport is a 2-row whereas the larger VW Atlas is a 3-row.  The differences pretty much start and stop there.

So if you have kids at home go with the Atlas.  And if you don’t you’ll probably opt for the Atlas Cross Sport.  Because it’s a bit sleeker, sportier, and even more European-looking.

However, you cannot go wrong either way.  Because both the Atlas and the Atlas Cross Sport are great overall values.

✅  Test drive Atlas Cross Sport midsize SUV at Southern California’s Volkswagen HQ –> Ontario Volkswagen.

2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport Top-3:

  1. Overall value.
  2. Exterior styling.
  3. Interior engineering.

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2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport on left and Atlas on right

Left: Atlas Cross Sport | Right: Atlas

See the difference in the above picture?

Atlas Cross Sport is on the left.  Its roofline slopes down.  And it’s shorter from the rear wheel to the rear bumper.

Conversely, Atlas is on the right.  Its roofline doesn’t slope much.  And it’s longer from the rear wheel to the rear bumper.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Midsize SUV

So here’s what’s new for the 2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport.  The 2-row midsize SUV now comes in eight trim levels.  Plus there’s new technology.  And that includes driver assistance features.

For example, new tech includes VW’s next-gen MIB3 infotainment system.  Additionally, it also can come with wireless App-Connect pairing for multiple compatible phones.

Plus Travel Assist and Emergency Assist features are available for 2021.

2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport driver profile w. sky

Atlas Cross Sport starts at $30,855 MSRP

Trim Configurations And Prices

Since 2021 is the second model year for Atlas Cross Sport it’s typical for carmakers to add more trim options.  Hence the more robust offering of trims this year.

’21 Atlas Cross Sport Trims & Starting MSRPs:

  • $30,855
  • SE $34,205
    • with Tech $36,245
    • w/ Tech & R-Line $39,045
  • SEL $41,725
    • R-Line $43,325
    • Premium $46,525
    • Premium R-Line $50,025

Manufacturers suggested retail pricing is provided for reference.  You need to get your Cross Sport equipped to your liking.  And the place to do that is Ontario Volkswagen in the Los Angeles suburb of Ontario, CA.

Engines, Transmissions, And MPG

Depending on the trim config you select, there are two engine options.

Engines

First, there’s a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4cylinder.  It puts out 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

Second, there’s the bigger 3.6L V6.  And that creates 276 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque.

However, having driven both – without data to back up the statement.  I’m pretty sure the turbo 4-cylinder accelerates quicker than the V6.  Maybe not 0 to 60 mph.  But off the line.  (Aka from a dead stop.) It feels quicker.

Transmission

Regardless of the engine, Atlas Cross Sport comes with the same transmission.  And that’s an eight-speed automatic that helps produce solid fuel economy for a vehicle that size.

Although the eight-speed trans is standard there can be a decision to make.  You may have to select whether to go with a two-wheel drive (in front – FWD) or an all-wheel drive.

MPG

The EPA-estimated fuel economy differs slightly with the different engine and drives combinations.

’21 Atlas Cross Sport MPG:

  • 2.0L 4-cyl
    • FWD 21/22/24
    • AWD 20/22/24
  • 3.6L V6
    • FWD 18/20/23
    • AWD 17/19/23

*City/combined/highway

It’s important to note that the midsize Atlas Cross Sport is a hefty vehicle.  Again, configuration depending, it can have a curb weight from 4,098 pounds up to 4,484 lbs.

What Does VW Atlas Cross Sport Look Like?

So the Atlas Cross Sport is tough to differentiate from its larger sibling Atlas.  And that’s clear from the comparison picture of their rear ends above.

But either way, it’s a handsome, athletic and, bold European design.  Undoubtedly it’s a Volkswagen.  That is from the front and rear.  Or anywhere you spot the badge.

2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport passenger rear upward angle

Height 78.4″ / Length 195.5″

However, when you go with an upper trim configuration Atlas Cross Sport can make you look twice.  For example, the first time I spotted one on the road I thought for certain that I’d seen an Audi.

Exterior Dimensions:

  • Wheelbase 117.3
  • Track:
    • front 67.0
    • rear 67.6
  • Length 195.5
  • Width 78.4
  • Height 68.3

*All inches

Inside ’21 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

And inside Atlas Cross Sport is huge.  Volkswagen has a knack for engineering great use of space which is displayed inside its ’21 Atlas Cross Sport.

2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport cockpit 2

’21 VW Atlas Cross Sport S trim

The People’s SUV is well laid out inside.  Functional and clean, with quality surfaces.  And Volkswagen’s legendary attention to detail, fit and finish.

2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport cargo area w. backseat partial down

Up to 77.8 cu-ft cargo space

And with the backseats folded down, the 5-passenger midsize sport-ute provides up to 77.8 cubic feet of cargo space.  Plus, even with the backseats raised Atlas Cross Sport delivers 40.3 cu-ft of space for your stuff.

Infotainment And Safety Technology

When it comes to technology Cross Sport has everything available.  For instance, IQ.DRIVE, Volkswagen’s suite of driver assistance features and App-Connect enabling Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport steering wheel and instruments

S trim, analog instruments

But you can also step it up in trim configurations and get Volkswagen’s digital cockpit.  Accordingly, the digital cockpit replaces analog instruments (shown above) with an in-dash monitor.  Moreover, that monitor is completely customizable and you can save multiple profiles within in.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Top-3

Finally coming back full-circle to my Top-3 for the 2021 Volkswagen Cross Sport midsize sport utility vehicle.

  1. Overall value – The proposition Atlas Cross Sport poses is a tough one to beat.  European styling, fit, finish, and tech, it’s all there at a great price-point.
  2. Exterior styling – Atlas Cross Sport is a handsome vehicle in every trim configuration.  Especially when you opt for the upper-tier trims.
  3. Interior engineering – Volkswagen’s attention to fit and finish (now mentioned 3x’s in this article) is truly legendary.  And that’s why the brand has a cult-like following.
2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport rear badging and plate

Rear badging states only “Atlas”

A final note on Cross Sport and its bigger sibling Atlas.

2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport driver side badge

Cross Sport side badge

“Cross Sport” badging is located only on the sides.