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Test Drive: Surprisingly Sporty

Test Drive: Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Take a popular three-row SUV, ditch the way-back seat and give it a raked rear roofline for sportier styling. Those few seemingly minor changes will net you something that looks an awful lot like the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport.

Based on the popular seven-passenger VW crossover, the midsize Atlas Cross Sport takes everything that’s good about its bigger brother and cuts out the excess. Inside, there’s still plenty of room for four adults.

There’s plenty of technology on offer here, too, including advanced safety features like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Hit the highway and the available 276-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 provides perfectly acceptable performance (base models get a 235-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder). The independent suspension delivers a comfortable ride quality that makes the Cross Sport adept at good old-fashioned road trips.

Proving, once again, that less SUV can be more.

Test Drive: Toyota Rav4 Hybrid

It’s one of the little-acknowledged side benefits of gasoline-electric hybrid powertrains: performance. It’s something the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid offers in abundance, and in more ways than one.

The hybrid system in this variant of Toyota’s popular compact SUV gives it the kind of shot in the arm you don’t expect in a hybrid, namely lively acceleration. With a 2.0-liter gasoline engine paired with two electric motors, including one that gives it all-wheel-drive capability, its 219-horsepower total output makes it the most powerful non-plug-in RAV4 in the lineup.

The fact that this setup also helps the RAV4 Hybrid return impressive fuel economy numbers is a bonus. The RAV4 Hybrid’s handling is very respectable and the ride quality surprisingly smooth. It also shines in its ability to accommodate the ins-and-outs of daily life with good comfort for four adults.

All things considered, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid offers the kind of performance you rarely find in hybrids.

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