There’s a certain kind of vehicle that American families have sought for years. In the 1950s, typical family cars had four doors, room for five people, and a trunk big enough to haul all of their luggage. They also sported enough power to hit highway speeds without worry — and the most successful ones also happened to capture the style of the era.
That basic formula has held true through the decades, even as the shape of those vehicles has evolved. Five-passenger SUVs rank as the most in-demand vehicles in America, in large part because they offer all the traits that made “classic” sedans classic in the first place. With the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport concept unveiled today at the New York International Auto Show, Volkswagen launches the Atlas family with a modern, five-seat family hauler of its own.
“The Atlas is a perfect example of a Volkswagen that is built to satisfy American customers’ needs and wishes, while still being a Volkswagen,” says Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America.
While the Atlas Cross Sport is officially a concept vehicle, it’s a close look at the model Volkswagen will begin assembling next year in Chattanooga, Tennessee, alongside the seven-passenger Atlas and the Passat sedan. Built from the same flexible MQB vehicle architecture that underpins many VW models, the Atlas Cross Sport remixes the Atlas proportions with a more dramatic five-seat design, from the daytime LEDs embedded in the grille and VW logo to the coupe-like roofline.
The Cross Sport earns its name under the hood. It’s a plug-in hybrid, combining the production 276-hp 3.6-liter VR6 in today’s Atlas with a pair of electric motors, one on each axle, and an 18-kWh lithium battery pack. At full acceleration, the system is anticipated to produce 355 hp, enabling a 0–60 mph time of 5.4 seconds. VW engineers have also projected how the Atlas Cross Sport would perform with a lighter 2-kWh battery pack as a mild hybrid without plug-in capability. Total power would still hit 310 hp, and a rush to 60 mph would take a speedy 6.5 seconds — all examples of how flexible the MQB vehicle architecture can be with power sources.
Getting that power to the ground in all conditions is a special focus of the Atlas Cross Sport. The advanced 4MOTION® all-wheel-drive system has seven drive modes, from “Eco” and “Comfort” to “Snow” and “Sludge & Sand.” The plug-in hybrid system is designed to power the car up to 26 miles on electric energy alone or be switched into a sport “GTE” setting for unleashing all 494 ft-lbs of torque from the system. There’s even an off-road system that powers the rear axle with electric power only even if the main battery is depleted — ensuring the rear wheels have maximum torque for tough conditions.
The interior offers a modern take on everything that owners demand from SUVs today, from touch-screen entertainment systems to ample cargo space behind the rear bench seat. While a few details will change when the production version arrives in 2019, the newest VW family member will still be ready to become an American classic of its own.
What else did Volkswagen reveal at the New York Auto Show? Its first entry into the pickup truck market — the Atlas Tanouk concept. Click for a sneak peek.
This information is preliminary and subject to change.