A few years ago, I wandered into a Guitar Center location in Colonie, New York, where I used to live. I had my Amex gold car in my wallet. I was all ready to slap the plastic on the counter for a new Fender American Original Telecaster, with a lacquered ash body just like Bruce Springsteen’s axe, and a matching Fender amplifier. The bill would have come to something like $2,500. It almost did it, until my rush of enthusiasm was tempered by the realization that I hadn’t played a note since I stepped away from the piano, a misadventure commanded by my parents, back around 1969 or 1970. I’ll probably never get that Telecaster but that’s not to say that I, and you, can’t enjoy Fender-juiced sound, especially when driving. Volkswagen has now taken care of that.
Volkswagen has partnered with both Fender and Panasonic since 2011 on developing premium audio systems for its vehicles, starting first with the Beetle and advancing across the Golf, Jetta, Passat and Tiguan lines. The wizards from Wolfsburg (and lately, Chattanooga) have now adapted Fender and Panasonic sound to the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport. That involved some engineering challenges, since the Atlas is Volkswagen’s largest vehicle, a large SUV with five seats across two rows, as opposed to the normal three rows of seats in the basic Atlas. The Cross Sport package combines a dozen Fender speakers, like the one depicted above in the front passenger door panel, ranging in dimension from 60 to 200mm. The system can produce 480 watts’ worth of aurally tuned power, enough to keep anyone humming, both literally and figuratively. What, then, is an Atlas Cross Sport? Besides having five seats, it stands as the Atlas line’s price leader, with a flexible cargo layout, and your choice of 2.0-liter TSI inline-four producing 235hp or a 3.6-liter VR6 that’s rated at 276hp. It’s visually distinguished by its lowered roofline and sloped rear liftgate. A sunroof measuring 4.5 feet by 3 feet is optionally available.