Dazzling Lighting, Sleek Design Make Atlas Cross Sport a Winner

The German automaker’s 2-row midsize CUV makes our list for its innovative interior illumination and design and spacious, comfortable cabin.

Christie Schweinsberg, Senior Editor

May 28, 2024

3 Min Read
Laser-etched, carbon-fiber-look trim dazzling element on Atlas Cross Sport IP.

Volkswagen’s long-standing reputation for crafting a great interior is intact as shown by the refreshed 2024 Atlas Cross Sport. The midsize crossover lands on our 2024 10 Best Interiors & UX winners’ list for its beautiful aesthetics and high-quality materials, plus its dazzling electronic elements.

A showstopper for all our judges is the backlit trim on the Atlas Cross Sport’s instrument panel. VW cleverly turns this typically hum-drum spot into a design focus via the application of laser-etched carbon fiber-look trim and ambient lighting. The treatment at night or in dim lighting reveals the Cross Sport moniker surrounded by a field of dots and dashes.

Speaking of ambient lighting, the system is one of the best we’ve experienced as brightness for each illuminated area, such as doors and footwells, can be independently controlled. As with other ambient systems, there’s an array of colors to choose from, but we prefer the default royal blue as it ties into the fashionable Titan Black leather seats. They reveal a hint of blue fabric beneath perforations of varying sizes, creating a clever and unusual stripe-within-a-diamond appearance.

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Black gloss trim and aluminum elements, including on pedals, add further contrast and interest.

We appreciate how foolproof it is to adjust settings for the ambient lighting system, as well as seats, the head-up display and other features, via labels on realistic-looking graphics of the interior and exterior of the vehicle, accessed via the infotainment system.

The cabin is comfortable and spacious, due in part to soft-touch upper doors and thickly padded armrests. Judge Drew Winter lauds the Atlas Cross Sport’s seats for offering the perfect combination of firmness and support.

Front-row storage is substantial with big door pockets and a large storage bin beneath the cantilevered center console.

Back-seat passengers enjoy cavernous legroom and seats that not only are heated but also recline – a rare combination difficult to come by in models from mass-market brands.

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When the CUV’s backseat isn’t needed, seat backs fold truly flat to create an even bigger cargo area. The mechanism for folding seat backs forward, a lever on the bottom cushions, is easy to lift and pull, even for this judge recovering from a wrist injury.

There’s plenty of technology and conveniences in our $53,000 SEL R Line test vehicle, including a Wi-Fi hotspot and rear 115V AC outlet. Those things, plus two rear USB-C ports, are sure to keep device-wielding kids happy on road trips.

High marks also go to the voice recognition system, which quickly understood and complied with varying commands in the navigation, audio and climate realms: find an address, change SiriusXM stations and adjust downward the interior temperature.

Wireless Apple CarPlay, accessed via an intuitive menu in the high-res touchscreen, earns kudos from judge Jim Irwin, as does the reminder to grab your phone before leaving the vehicle and the midsize crossover’s IQ.Drive technology, which he calls “one of the most comprehensive ADAS packages out there.”

Judge Winter summarizes the reasons for the VW’s win best: “There are a lot of midsize 2-row SUVs out there but the Atlas Cross Sport sets itself apart with a delightfully sleek and uncluttered interior that is roomy, comfortable and practical but also decidedly upscale.”

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