The VW Atlas Cross Sport Helps You Hold the Heavens On Your Shoulders

The 2023 VW Atlas Cross Sport was the perfect car for our family summer road trip: Comfort for 5, tech even my older parents could use and plenty of cargo space.

The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is a sturdy vehicle that rolls onto the open road with ease. Photo: Tabatha Chovanetz

5 passengers, 3 generations and a week on the road. Easy-peasy.

When I think of Atlas, I think of the Greek god who was a rebel fighter condemned to forever hold the heavens on his shoulders. You might also think of atlas as a bound collection of tables, charts, or maps.

Now I don’t know about you, but these are two things I can get behind when it comes to my car, and what I found in my test drive of the VW Atlas Cross Sport: a sturdy car that will shelter my family from unforeseen troubles, and one that also could also effortlessly guide me on the road to the next adventure. One that lets me give them the world while I hold the heavens above. 

There might not be a name better suited for a car to take us across the south and up into the northeast than the VW Atlas Cross Sport. We set out on our mission in the 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, priced from $34K to about $48K. In this 2-row 5 passenger version of the uber-popular 3-row SUV from VW, the concern is always ensuring everyone has enough room. I’m happy to report that we did. And we learned a few things along the way.

Related: Why We Love the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport 

The 2023 Vw Atlas Cross Sport Looks Perfectly At Home Anywhere On The Road. Photo: Tabatha Chovanetz

The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport looks perfectly at home anywhere on the road. Photo: Tabatha Chovanetz

Inside the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

The interior of the 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is well-designed; both the driver and passenger seats are comfortable. The driver’s seat offered easy-to-see views with minimal blind spots. The backseat not only carried one teen and two adults with generous space and roominess, but the rear seatbacks also reclined, perfect for a road trip. There was ample legroom to stretch out a bit, and headspace was not a problem either (perfect for Pops, who is 6′). 

I was also impressed with the width of the backseats, which are designed to fit 3 child passenger car seats. This meant that each passenger truly had their own space. And, with door pockets and the fold-down center console (which we did not use) there is an average of two cup holders per person. Oh, and chargers! Each person had their own charger, and that’s a win.

The 2023 Vw Atlas Cross Sport

The back row of the 2023 VW Atlas Cross Sport. Photo: Tabatha Chovanetz

Plenty of Comforts, and Room for Souvenirs

The cargo area held everyone’s suitcase with room to spare. That’s because behind the rear seats there is 40.3 cubic feet for luggage, cooler, souvenirs, and more. 

The Atlas Cross Sport’s cabin has two climate zones, front and back, and while rear passengers have air vents, they do have to rely on the front passengers to control what comes out of those vents.

The cabin was also quiet and comfortable for conversations, even between front and rear seat passengers. Wind and road noise was really not noticeable, making conversation even easier. 

The panoramic moonroof adds a nice touch of outdoors as it spans the front and rear passenger seats.

The side mirrors are just the right size and not only light up when you use your turn signal, but also indicate when a car is in your blind spot. The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport also comes standard with blind spot monitoring, and thankfully so, as this little safety feature has always been a favorite of mine and quickly became one of those things I wouldn’t want to have to do without.

Love That Moon Roof In The Vw Atlas Cross Sport

I loved the moonroof in the 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport. Photo: Tabatha Chovanetz

How is the VW Atlas Cross Sport For Older Drivers?

Having your parent ride shot-gun is always interesting. Both mom and dad took, who are 75 and 74, each took  turns in the co-pilot’s seat and found the Atlas’ functions to be straightforward and effortless. They learned to use apps and functions they had only heard of but never experienced.

Pretty soon, they were ‘one with the Atlas.’ They learned how to use the multimedia system, navigation, climate controls, Apple CarPlay and Spotify. They also were delighted with the Atlas Cross Sport’s ‘Gesture control,’ which senses your hand in front of the screen. Just swipe your hand toward the screen and it scrolls seemingly on its own. May the force be with you! 

Speaking of Favorites, Let’s Talk Tech 

Being on a road trip, we used the radio a fair amount, listening to podcasts, music, and audiobooks. VW’s projection phone app integrates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it’s a standard feature. And the Fender Audio System gave us the feel that we were at a live performance of our favorite artist. 

The Apple CarPlay was uncomplicated in the 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport. We could simply plug in our smartphones (or connect them wirelessly), and our apps would appear on the touchscreen display.

The 8-inch touchscreen navigation system is sleek. Route guidance assists you with turn-by-turn information. I love the simplicity of Volkswagen’s navigation system; it took the guesswork out of unfamiliar highways and byways. 

Related: Everything You Need to Know about the Volkswagen ID.Buzz

Tech In The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

The technology in the 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport did not disappoint. Photo: Tabatha Chovanetz

Driver Assistance and Car-Net Services

The 2023 VW Atlas Cross Sport comes with a plethora of driver assist aids… adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, tire pressure monitoring system, forward collision warning & autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, and blind spot monitors. 

Oh and when you put it in reverse, that 8-inch touchscreen has a high definition back-up camera making everything behind you clear and easy to see.

Volkswagen already comes equipped with keyless access, wireless charging, and remote start, but if you are unfamiliar with Car-Net Services, these are even more amazing features to enhance your driving experience.

VW Car-Net Hotspot provides Wifi on-the-go, VW Car-Net Remote Access/Remote Commands, which means you can start the engine, lock and unlock the doors, honk the horn, or even control your car from miles away, using safety features such as limiting a new driver’s speed when they are behind the wheel. The VW Car-Net services are available through the VW app on your phone. Plus, you can sync your Car-Net with your Alexa to say remote commands at home. Last, you can enroll in DriveView, and your driving data will be scored and potentially save your discounts on your auto insurance. 

Related: Will a Driving Monitor Save you Money on Insurance Rates?

The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport was perfect for our family adventure. Photo: Tabatha Chovanetz

How did the 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Perform On the Road? 

The Atlas Cross Sport is a larger SUV, comparable to Jeep Grand Cherokee or Honda Passport. For its size, it is surprisingly agile; the only time it felt large was when parking. And though it has reasonably strong acceleration and looks sporty, it does not drive sporty. The Natchez Trace Parkway provided scenic views throughout Tennessee and an engaging, smooth, and responsive ride on winding roads, and while the Atlas would roll into those corners, I couldn’t help but wish it felt as sporty as it looks. 

The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport offers competitive mpg numbers. Photo: Tabatha Chovanetz

How Often Did We Stop for Gas?

Hmm, well, the answer is … average for an SUV. Our SEL model carries a four-cylinder engine with 235 horsepower and rates around 21 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, for a combined 23 mpg. Obviously, the V6 engine in the higher trim models, with 276 HP is a tad bit thirstier, with around 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg highway. 

Related: Check out the VW ID.Buzz

The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport offers nice features for passengers in back. Photo: Tabatha Chovanetz

What Trim Level is the Best Value?

Of the different trims offered on the 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, I test-drove the SE with Technology. The cabin has an upscale appearance, a leatherette-wrapped steering wheel, and heated front-row seats. And though slightly more expensive than a few competitors, the SE with Technology is a sensible buy for what is offered and only about $4,000 more than the base SE model. Volkswagen also offers two years/20,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance, roadside assistance for 3 years/36,000 miles, and a four years/50,000 mile warranty for both basic and powertrain coverage.

The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

The 2023 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport would be a great car for your next family adventure. Photo: Tabatha Chovanetz

Atlas Cross Sport Makes Holding up the Heavens Easy

While the VW Atlas Cross Sport is a fairly new model from Volkswagen, it was just redesigned with a slightly new look and lots of new features for 2024. But the 2023 model offers a ton of value for the price. Our test model starts  around $39,000 for the SE with Technology model and includes all the features mentioned. It is as comfortable for long drives as it is for around town errands, and during our week we had minimal complaints from passengers – a win on its own.

And for those of us who feel like we have to hold the heavens on our shoulders, you need a good partner for the mission. Atlas delivers, delightfully.

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I teach 6th grade social studies, travel the world in the summer, write auto/moto news between grading papers and... More about Tabatha Chovanetz