2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport takes two steps forward, one back

Volkswagen is its own worst enemy. 

The automaker gave the three-row Atlas and two-row Atlas Cross Sport a refresh that enhances the duo with better materials, a gem of a new engine, and kept all the wonderful stretch-out space. This all improved the Atlas’ TCC Rating from 5.8 out of 10 to a very competitive 6.7 out of 10 for 2024. But for all the good Volkswagen did improving the Atlas it was too far along in product planning to address the hot mess of an infotainment system and touch-based controls the updated Atlas received.

Here are the pros and cons of the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport after spending a week shuttling the kids around town and running errands in the automaker’s larger crossover SUV.

2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Pro: Atlas Cross Sport gets strong new turbo-4

The V-6 is dead. RIP.

Every Atlas Cross Sport (and Atlas) are now powered by a new 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 296 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Before anyone breaks out the slide rules, that’s down 7 hp and up 6 lb-ft of torque over the outgoing 6-cylinder engine. The new turbo-4 is perky and strong. Turbo lag is present in Comfort mode, but Sport mode ratchets things up with the 8-speed automatic firing off quicker shifts to stay in the boost. The sound from the new turbo-4 is artificially piped into the cabin and sounds like a cross between a Porsche flat-6 and the old VR6. If I closed my eyes it almost seemed like my buddy’s third-gen mid-90s GLI VR6 from high school. Such sweet sounds.

2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Con: Atlas Cross Sport isn’t efficient

The new turbo-4 improves upon all previous Atlas engine option’s EPA fuel economy ratings. With all-wheel drive, my Atlas Cross Sport SEL Premium R-Line carried EPA fuel economy ratings of 19 mpg city, 26 highway, and 22 combined. Those seem unreasonably optimistic. Over the course of 282 miles of mixed suburban driving I saw an average of 18 mpg, which is no better than a V-6 in a Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot and Passport, or Jeep Grand Cherokee. 

2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Pro: Atlas Cross Sport gets material upgrades

The Atlast lineup, both the three-row and the two-row Cross Sport, received major overhauls inside with nicer materials. The hard, cheap plastics are gone. The dashboard is now covered in soft-touch materials, the center console is wrapped in a leather-like material, and my SEL Premium R-Line tester featured Vienna leather seats with a diamond pattern stitched with blue accents. It was fetching. It’s an upscale feeling compared to the outgoing Atlas and feels a full step above what is found in the boring Honda Pilot and Passport.

2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Con: Atlas Cross Sport gets touch controls

Every Atlas now features a 12.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with an interface similar to that of the ID.4 electric car prior to VW attempting to overhaul the entire thing in short order for 2024. The interface falls somewhere between headache and nightmare. Some functions require multiple taps of the screen, such as three taps (minimum) to get to the vehicle’s trip computer function on the touchscreen. Trying to just view what the current radio station is playing is a feat of madness. The knobs and buttons from the previous model for the climate control system are gone, replaced by touch-based slider controls for the radio volume and climate control system’s cabin temp. These touch-based sliders aren’t backlit, and trying to use them while driving, especially while going over broken midwest pavement, can send the temperature or radio volume wildly in the wrong direction. Ask my kids and wife, as they weren’t pleased when the radio started blaring loudly. The entire infotainment system and control interface is a full step, or four, backwards aside from thankfully having real buttons on the steering wheel. Bring back the buttons and knobs, VW. Or at least fix this mess and make it backlit at night.

2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Pro: Atlas Cross Sport delivers room for activities

For families of four the Atlas Cross Sport is a road-tripping machine. The best seat in the house might even be in the second row. There’s so much stretch out space. The front seats are well bolstered and supportive, delivering plenty of comfort. The second-row bench seat can easily fit three across in comfort. Two people will have room to spare with more than 40 inches of legroom. My kids didn’t even fight back there, and they bicker about everything. Behind all this there’s 40.3 cubic feet of cargo space to haul all the soccer gear plus a huge cooler and then have space left over. 

2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Con: Atlas Cross Sport lacks an electrified model

The multiple concepts that previewed the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport years before coming to fruition were all electrified. There was even a plug-in hybrid model. Yet, when it came to production no Atlas can be had with a hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrain. It’s a miss with a Telluride hybrid likely (and that would mean a Hyundai Palisade as well) and the bevy of Toyota Highlander hybrid models available. The next-gen Atlas could get electrified, but it’s years away.

With better materials, a stronger and more modern engine, and great space the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport appeals. Just be sure to spend time playing with the infotainment interface to ensure it’s something you can live with, and perhaps don’t change the radio volume at night in the dark.


2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport SEL Premium R-Line

Base price: $38,335, including a $1,350 destination fee

Price as tested: $52,795

Drivetrain: 296-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4, 8-speed automatic transmission, AWD

EPA fuel economy: 19/26/22 mpg

The hits: Loads of space, nice interior materials (finally), punchy turbo-4

The misses: Not efficient, still no hybrid, tolerable (at best) infotainment system and controls