Volkswagen Canada is deleting front-wheel drive entirely on its large SUVs, first with the upcoming mid-size two-row 2020 Atlas Cross Sport as it launches in March 2020 and later in the refreshed three-row 2021 Atlas that will arrive by the end of the second quarter next year.
The move will mark the first time that an all-wheel-drive variant of the Atlas is available equipped with the smaller 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Thomas Tetzlaff, manager of public relations for Volkswagen Canada, said that while there were certain consumers for whom front-wheel drive was an effective purchase, the take rate on front-wheel drive in these products is “really low” in Canada.
“At the end of the day, when it came time to drive it off the lot, [buyers] said ‘I’ll take the all-wheel drive,’” Tetzlaff said. “Having the [all-wheel drive] with the four-cylinder allows us to offer it at a better price point. The people that were on the fence, now we've given them that option.”
The Atlas Sport Cross will join the VW line-up as a competitor to the Ford Edge, Honda Passport, and other large two-row SUVs. Built on the same platform and wheelbase as the Atlas, the Atlas Sport Cross is approximately 7.5 cm shorter in length and replaces the third row with a 1,140-litre cargo compartment. Both engines available in the Atlas, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder and the 3.6-litre naturally aspirated V6, will be offered on the Atlas Sport Cross. Both will hit the market next year with front and rear styling updates as compared to the 2019 Atlas.