To compete in one of the industry’s hottest segments, you’ve got to bring your A-game and Volkswagen does just that with the Atlas Cross Sport, a 2020 Wards 10 Best UX recipient.
The UX award for the 5-seat Atlas Cross Sport, which brings the same comfort and utility of the 7-seat Atlas but with a bolder design, heightened connectivity and new advanced driver-assistance technologies, comes on the heels of a 2019 honor for the Arteon sedan. Volkswagen is on a hot streak, and buyers of the value-driven brand are the clear winners.
“The user experience has become a vital focus for automakers trying to integrate rapidly evolving technologies in their next-generation vehicles, so that consumers can use these technologies safely behind the wheel, without distraction,” says 10 Best UX judge Tom Murphy.
“The Atlas Cross Sport checks all our boxes as we score vehicles for connectivity, infotainment, displays, intuitive controls and on-board driver-assistance technologies that are taking us toward the era of autonomous vehicles,” he says of the all-new entry from VW at $51,050 as tested.
Judges made note of the Atlas Cross Sport’s wireless phone charging and its whopping five USB ports. That’s one for each passenger. If that’s not enough, the center console receives a 12V outlet and there’s a 115V AC outlet at the back of the console. Nobody’s device goes dead inside the Atlas Cross Sport. Voice commands return results quickly and accurately, phones pair easily and a Wi-Fi hotspot is available with the purchase of a data plan.
Also available is Car Net, which allows owners to remotely interact with their Atlas Cross Sport via a mobile app from wherever they may be.
For 2020, Car Net receives an updated mobile app and more free services for a five-year period. Owners can use Car Net to take advantage of features such as remote start and stop, remote door lock and unlock, remote honk and flash of lights, last parked location and remote vehicle status display, which provides information on fuel level, mileage and door and window status.
Off-street parking assist and vehicle diagnostic reports also are made available through Car Net, as well as roadside assistance and even discounts on car insurance.
But who would ever want to leave the high-tech confines of the Atlas Cross Sport?
All models boast VW’s MIB II infotainment system. The unit’s 8-in. (20-cm) touchscreen uses capacitive-touch technology so no finger pressure is necessary to conveniently swipe between screens or pinch-zoom navigation maps. Apps from Bluetooth-paired smartphones can be shared to the touchscreen and the system supports Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink, where apps on the device can be run through the vehicle’s steering wheel controls.
The Fender audio system in the Atlas Sport Cross broadcasts music from your phone, HD radio or SiriusXM with the feel of a live concert thanks to a 480-watt 12-channel amplifier. There is a total of 12 speakers, including an innovative center channel speaker, woofers in each door, first- and second-row tweeters, two wide-frequency speakers and a subwoofer in the rear. It will rock you.
Judges flipped over the digital cockpit, too. Previous VW models have been tested with the fully customizable, high-resolution, 12.3-in. (31-cm) thin-film transistor digital display for driver essentials such as navigation, speedometer, tachometer, fuel economy, altimeter, compass, phone and more. Having the richly detailed information directly in front of the driver within the instrument panel with easy access through steering wheel controls is safe and convenient.
“VW’s virtual gauges are among the best we’ve seen,” says judge Dave Zoia. “The way the screen image flips as it changes adds a bit of extra flash we haven’t seen in many other vehicles.”
The two-tone dark burgundy and black interior, stitched accents to the seats, premium steering wheel and laudably little clutter on the center stack of the Atlas Cross Sport convey an upscale feel. Our tester included durable Muddy Buddy rubber mats (pictured above) for the rear cargo area and second-row seat backs. Go ahead, get dirty because cleanup will be a snap.
However, the pièce de résistance may be Traffic Jam Assist.
The long-awaited feature represents Level 2+ automated driving, where the car uses its front camera and front radar sensors for full-stop adaptive cruise control up to 37 mph (60 km/h). Lane-keep assist maintains the car in its lane, even through curves. Stop for less than three seconds and the Atlas Cross Sport will resume travel automatically when the vehicle in front pulls away. Any longer than that and the driver needs only to tap the accelerator, or press the resume button on the steering wheel, to reactivate the system.
Additional available ADAS technologies include forward-collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blindspot monitoring, rear-traffic alert, dynamic parking aids, automatic-headlight dimming, a 360-degree overhead camera and, for the first time on a VW model in the U.S., dynamic road sign display.
There is a bevy of quality crossovers to choose from in this segment, each with exciting designs and comfy interiors. But the Atlas Cross Sport brings VW’s A-game to the UX competition unlike any other.