If this is the future of hybrids, I’m all in. Volkswagen just took the cover off its Atlas Cross Sport SUV, which features a plug-in hybrid drive powertrain that features two electric motors and a V6 engine. Together, they produce 355 horsepower. And it looks great, too.
The inside and out of this concept is loaded with future-leaning technology including a massive screen, digital cockpit and a seemingly endless amount of LEDs. The center infotainment system can be controlled by touch or gesture though since this example is just a concept, it’s unclear if gesture controls will make it into production.
The powertrain is the most exciting part. The Atlas Cross Sport is equipped with the same 3.6L V6 engine found in the standard Atlas. But the Cross Sport features dual electric motors with a 54 hp motor in the front and a rear motor that outputs 114 hp. An 18.0 kWh lithium-ion battery housed in the vehicle’s central tunnel powers the battery. Volkswagen says its configuration allows the output to be 355 HP, up from 310 hp if a conventional hybrid system was used.
The company expects the SUV to hit 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, thus proving it’s worthy of the Sport badging as the regular Atlas runs 60 mph at 7.9 seconds.
The concept features several drive modes though it’s not clear at this time if the production vehicle will have similar abilities. In E-Mode, the vehicle drives on just the rear motor and has a range of around 26 miles. Like the Chevy Volt
Volkswagen says this is headed to production, too, with a 2019 release. The company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee facility will build the vehicle.
This concept is built off the MQB platform that’s responsible for the seven-seat Atlas. In this variation, the vehicle is 7.5 inches shorter than the Atlas though the wheelbase is the same. It shows the flexibility of the platform, which can result in a traditional 7-seat people hauler or a 5-passenger sports SUV with different powertrains and dimensions.
Volkswagen is not alone in adding hybrid powertrains to SUVs. Ford announced two weeks ago it intends to offer five hybrid SUV models in the coming years.
Hybrid systems could see a resurgence in popularity as models such as the Cross Sport show they can be used for more than just increasing fuel economy.