Volkswagen in 2019 will add a second SUV to the production line at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the Atlas Cross Sport concept unveiled Tuesday is a direct preview of it.
The concept is a shorter, more rakish version of the Atlas, which is also built in Chattanooga, and this time there’s two rows of seats, making it a strict 5-seater. The Atlas has three rows with seven seats.
The Atlas Cross Sport is 7.5 inches shorter than the Atlas, but it has the same wheelbase, meaning the interior should feel spacious. Speaking of the interior, you’ll find all the latest VW goodies like a 12.3-inch screen serving as the instrument cluster, as well as a 10.1-inch touchscreen with proximity sensors and gesture control serving as the infotainment hub.
Further down is a horizontal trim strip made of brushed aluminum running the width of the dash. And down here you’ll find yet another screen, this one serving as the controls for the climate system. Oh, there’s also two cupholders. You don’t normally see these on concepts, suggesting that the Atlas Cross Sport is a close representation of the upcoming production model.
Underpinning the concept, and the production model it will spawn, is the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform. The same platform is found in the Atlas. It has enabled the designers to drop in a plug-in hybrid powertrain in the concept, in this case a 3.6-liter V-6 working with an electric motor at each end. Combined output is 355 horsepower, or enough for 0-60 mph acceleration in 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. An 18-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery means the concept can also travel 26 miles on electric power alone.
Interestingly, VW has also mentioned that the Atlas Cross Sport concept could feature a mild hybrid powertrain. Using the same V-6 and electric motors, but with a smaller 2.0-kwh battery, the mild hybrid version would produce 310 hp. Of course, there wouldn’t be an electric range in this case.
The current Atlas is available with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 rated at 238 hp or a 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 280 hp. It’s likely the production Atlas Cross Sport will also feature these powertrains, along with one or both of the hybrid powertrains mentioned above.
Potential rivals for the production model include the Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Murano.
VW says that more than half of its sales in the United States for the month of February were made up of just the Atlas and Tiguan, highlighting the popularity of SUVs. The automaker has two more coming beyond the production version of the Atlas Cross Sport concept. One is a compact model and the other is a production of the ID Crozz electric concept. Both are due in 2020.
The Atlas Cross Sport makes its formal debut on Wednesday at the 2018 New York International Auto Show. To learn about some of the other vehicles set to appear, head to our dedicated hub.