2022 Volkswagen Atlas

By January 18, 2022

The 2022 Volkswagen Atlas and Cross Sport are three- and two-row crossovers with spread-out space, driving satisfaction, and average acceleration and styling.

The Atlas is about the same size as some mid-size pickups, at 198.3 inches long, with a 117.3-inch wheelbase; the Cross Sport is about five inches shorter. They share ride and handling traits, but the two-row Cross Sport’s expansive back seat is more comfortable than the second-row sliding bench in the Atlas, whose third row allows seating for up to eight passengers, and more room for cargo when it’s dropped. The Cross Sport can hold an amazing 40.3 cubic feet of cargo behind its second row.

For 2022 the Atlas and Cross Sport SE get an 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster. The Cross Sport V-6 comes with a trailer hitch, while the Atlas V-6 gets that plus third-row USB charge ports. A Black trim package paints the wheels and other trim, while the SEL Premium R-Line gets standard 21-inch wheels.

The base engine is a 235-hp turbo-4 that feels almost as powerful as the 276-hp V-6. Both engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission that shifts without a fuss.

The EPA rates the front-drive turbo-4 Atlas at 21 mpg city, 25 highway, 23 combined. With all-wheel drive, the turbo-4 Atlas and Cross Sport are EPA-rated at 20/24/22 mpg. With the V-6, and the front-drive Atlas and both Cross Sport AWD and FWD earn EPA ratings of 18/24/20 mpg. The V-6-powered, all-wheel-drive Atlas has the lowest ratings of the lineup at 17/23/19 mpg.

The NHTSA gives the Atlas five stars overall, with four stars for front-impact protection. The IIHS gives it the top “Good” marks for crash tests, but finds its base headlights to be “Marginal” and its pedestrian-avoidance system as “Basic.” Every Atlas comes with blind-spot monitors and automatic emergency braking. Option safety equipment includes active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and a surround-view camera system on some trims, along with a traffic-jam assistant that can accelerate, brake, and steer the vehicle at speeds below 35 mph. The Atlas’ rear roof pillars make for an obstructed view to the rear.

Model Lineup

Made in Tennessee, VW sells the Atlas in SE, SE Technology, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL R-Line Black, and SEL Premium R-Line trim. All-wheel drive costs $1,900 on all models where it’s not standard equipment.

The $33,970 Atlas Cross Sport S and $34,670 Atlas S come with 18-inch wheels, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and cloth upholstery.

For $40,590 the Atlas SE with Technology package ($39,890 for the Cross Sport) adds an 8.0-inch touchscreen, synthetic leather upholstery, five USB ports and 20-inch wheels.

With a price near $50,000, the Atlas SEL Premium R-Line gains premium audio, a panoramic sunroof, wireless smartphone charging, remote start, and an option for second-row captain’s chairs. The optional Fender premium audio system sounds great, but as it’s bundled in the top trim line, it effectively costs thousands.

The 4-year/50,000-mile warranty includes two years of free maintenance.


The Atlas and Cross Sport are straight and plain, with a conventional outline; neither stands out in the world of large crossover SUVs. They’re beyond tasteful; they’re a little shy. The faster rear roofline on the Cross Sport is the most interesting feature.

The Atlas received a bumper fluff and front-end tweak to more closely resemble the Cross Sport. Its pronounced grille isn’t too loud, while its sides are squared-off but not resolutely rectilinear. Even the raised lettering on the tailgate measures a few picas smaller than the emphatic names embossed on some rivals.


The cabin isn’t ambitious. The softly padded interior has a horizontal dash which houses a small touchscreen in base trims, a slightly larger one in expensive editions, and some splits of synthetic leather and woodgrain trim at the top end. It’s discreet, almost to a fault, especially in the black plastic and cloth upholstery of base models. The fit-and-finish is good, but the interior isn’t particularly rich-looking, even in higher-priced editions.

The front seats are comfortable and spacious, with firm bolsters. They can be upgraded with power adjustment, heating and synthetic leather.

Row two comes as a sliding bench seat that can hold three car seats if you have that many small children. Captain’s chairs are available for the Atlas. There’s a generous 37.6 inches of leg room.

The Atlas’ third-row seat can fit medium-size passengers, with 20.6 cubic feet of cargo behind it. With the third row folded, the Atlas can hold 55.5 cubic feet. But the Cross Sport has a massive 40.3 cubic feet behind its second row.

Both versions have quiet cabins, with lots of sound deadening.

Driving Impressions

With either the turbo-4 or V-6, Atlas or Cross Sport, acceleration is moderate. The 8-speed automatic transmission is well-sorted and that helps pull the Atlas up to highway speeds with reasonably brisk response. But the extra weight of all-wheel drive, extra features and passengers dulls things, and the turbo-4 gets buzzy at higher rpm.

The 276-hp V-6 doesn’t seem much quicker than the turbo-4, but it’s definitely better going uphill and for towing up to 5,000 lb. It’s capable and smooth.

The ride is confident with either front- or all-wheel-drive. Ride motions are controlled well. The independent suspension smothers bumps even with the large 21-inch wheels.

Neither Atlas offers much steering feedback, as accurate steering builds up little effort, but body lean is substantial. Handling ultimately takes a back seat, as it does in nearly every three-row crossover we can name. But it has a relatively small turning radius, and that’s nice for parking.

Final Word

It’s hard to find anything wrong with the 2022 VW Atlas, even in this crowded field of contenders. The three-row Atlas with captain’s chairs in the second row would make a superb commuter for a six-person car pool.


—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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