2021 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2021 Ford Explorer: The Better Choice Is Clear

If you’re in the market for a three-row family hauler, then you may have both the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas and the 2021 Ford Explorer on your list of SUVs to check out. But of these two three-row SUVs, which is better? Unfortunately for the Ford Explorer, the Volkswagen Atlas is the clear winner here.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas driving on curvy roads
2021 Volkswagen Atlas | Volkswagen

The 2021 Ford Explorer does offer more power under the hood

Standard under the hood of the 2021 Ford Explorer is a 2.3-liter turbo I4 engine. Churning out 300-hp and 310 lb-ft, Car and Driver reports that the new Ford Explorer handles well and has plenty of authority on the road. But if 300-hp isn’t enough power for you? The Ford Explorer is also available with a 322-hp V6 hybrid and a twin-turbo V6 engine with 365-hp or 400-hp.

Unfortunately for the Volkswagen Atlas, its four-cylinder engine base engine isn’t quite as powerful as the Ford Explorer’s is. But while its engine is only capable of only 235-hp, Car and Driver reports that it never really feels underpowered. Not to mention, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is also available with a V6. Though it’s only rated at 276-hp, it will still provide you with more power than the Atlas’ base four-cylinder engine.

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It offers much more space for cargo and passengers too

When it comes to interior space, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas knows just how to please. Seeing as it is a three-row SUV, it offers plenty of room for passengers, 174.3 cubic-feet of space to be exact. It also offers a wealth of cargo space that only grows if you fold the third and second-row seats down. 

As for the 2021 Ford Explorer? Its interior just doesn’t match up. While the Atlas offers up plenty of space for cargo and passengers alike, the new Ford Explorer does not. Not only does it offer up less cargo room than its Volkswagen competitor, but it also offers less front-row headroom and significantly less legroom for third-row passengers.

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The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas has the edge when it comes to resale value

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas also has the edge in terms of resale value. According to Kelley Blue Book, this year’s model boasts a much higher resale value than that of the 2021 Ford Explorer. Kelley Blue Book isn’t wrong either. According to CarEdge, you can expect a Volkswagen Atlas to depreciate about 51% after five years, giving it a resale value of about $20,832. That is, of course, assuming that you spent about $42,749 on a new Volkswagen Atlas.

The 2021 Ford Explorer, on the other hand, will depreciate 56% after five years and will have a five-year resale value of approximately $19,124. CarEdge added that because of the Explorer’s high depreciation rate, “It’s difficult to recommend a new Explorer from a value perspective, as their after-market prices just keep falling and falling.”

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Should you choose the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas over the Ford Explorer?

When it comes down to it, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is the better choice. Though the Ford Explorer does offer more engine options, all of which are more powerful than the Atlas’ engine options, the Atlas has the edge in terms of both space and resale value. Even better? The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is cheaper than the Ford Explorer. While a base Explorer will cost you at least $32,225, the Volkswagen Atlas boasts a slightly lower starting price of $31,555.