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German engineering gives midsize two-row SUV upscale feel and performance.

COURTESY PHOTO: VOLKSWAGEN - The 2022 Volkswagen Cross Sport is a handsome midsoze two-row SUV with two available engines and the choice of all-wheel-drive.Forget all the hype about electric vehicles for a moment. The 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is the kind of gas-powered vehicle the company needs to keep manufacturing to remain successful — a well-made, family-oriented SUV in the hot midsize market segment.

Like every other manufacturer, Volkswagen is navigating between increasing government pressure to produce all-electric vehicles and continuing consumer demand for traditional ones. The German company recently released its first dedicated EV, the ID.4, and has promised more in the future. But not everyone wants — or can even accommodate — an EV. Higher prices, range anxiety, and the lack of convenient charging locations (especially for people living in apartments) are all legitimate concerns.

COURTRESY PHOTO: VOLKSWAGEN - The two-row 2022 Atlas Cross Sport is based on the longer three-row Atlas Cross, but is more practical for smaller families and downtown driving.

So Volkswagen is continuing to offer a wide range of traditional vehicles, including two conventional contenders based on the same platform, the three-row Atlas and the slightly shorter two-row Atlas Cross Sport. Both versions are available with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four or normally-aspirated 3.6-liter V6, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is also an option and a good choice in the wet Pacific Northwest.

Although three-row midsize SUVs are more popular these days, two-row versions offer advantages for smaller families. They include the shorter lengths that make them more maneuverable in urban settings, additional leg room in the back seats, and more cargo space without having to fold the third row down. Sometimes bigger isn't necessarily better.

COURTESY PHOTO: VOLKSWAGEN - The interior of the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is room and features a clean dash design with good fit and finish.

The Atlas was reportedly the first Volkswagen designed specifically for the American market. It offers handsome, blocky styling, an enormous amount of interior space, wide front bucket seats, and a wealth of cup holders and storage spaces. Traditional company design touches include a clean dash with easy to understand and use controls, and durable interior materials that are easy to clean up, another plus for young families.

The offerings of both versions have been streamlined for the 2022 model year but still offer enough choices to meet every need. There are now six trim levels, beginning with the SE models now feature the 8.0-inch Digital Cockpit. The SE w/ Technology models with the VR6 engine now feature a standard trailer hitch. SEL models have standard 4Motion and machined 20-inch wheels. An optional R-Line Black package features black 20-inch wheels, along with black R-Line styling elements. The SEL Premium R-Line includes 21-inch wheels. Prices start at $33,635 for a 2.0-liter, front-wheel drive SE and $35,535 for 4Motion all-wheel drive version. Our test SE w/Technology was a very reasonable $40,485, especially considering it came with the more powerful V6, AWD, and a couple of option packages that included very comfortable leather seats.

COURTESY PHOTO: VOLKSWAGEN - Rear seat room is more than ample in the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport.

We had previous tested the 2.0T version of the Atlas Cross Sport with 235 horsepower. It produced adequate acceleration in town and good freeway passing power with a little advanced planning. The V6 version with 276 horsepower was much quicker around town — especially in the surprisingly responsive Sport mode — and more assured on freeways. Many manufacturers are hanging onto their normally aspirated V6 engines despite advances in turbo technologies for good reason. They are provide the performance of previous V8s with proven reliability.

In a week of test driving, we found the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport to be a comfortable and capable performer. It looked good in the driveway and felt substantial from the driver's seat. Although an affordable vehicle, it was as quiet and smooth on the road as many higher priced vehicles. It may have been designed for the American market, but the Atlas Cross Sport still embodies the feel of European road vehicles.

COURTESY PHOTO: VOLKSWAGEN - Cargo space behind the second row of seats is plentiful in the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport and even larger with the second row folded down.

If you're in the market for an EV, by all means check out the Volkswagen ID.4. But don't feel guilty about wanting a traditional vehicle, and put the Atlas Cross Sport at the top of your shopping list for a two-row midsize SUV.

A previous review of the Volkswagen ID.4 can be found here.

A previous review of the three-row Volkswagen Atlas can be found here.

2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Base price: $38,696

Price as tested: $40,485 (V6 SE w/Technology)

Type: Midsize SUV

Engines: Turbocharged 2.0-liter (235 hp, 258 lbs-ft); 3.6-liter V6 (276 hp, 266 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

EPA estimated mileage: 21/24; 18/20 (as tested)

Length: 196 inches

Curb weight: 4,288 pounds

Final assembly: Chattanooga, Tennessee


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