Crossover & Midsize

It’s Clear Who Should Buy a Volkswagen Atlas and Who Should Buy a Honda Pilot

With so many SUVs on the market, which one is the best for your family? The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas and 2021 Honda Pilot are both midsize SUVs with three rows. They have good crash test results, plenty of space, nice finishes, good fuel efficiency, and pleasant rides. They do have some differences, so here’s a look at who should buy these two SUVs.

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas

The Volkswagen Atlas was most recently redesigned for the 2018 model year and received an exterior update for 2020, according to U.S. News. U.S. News says neither of the two engines in the Atlas are “very inspiring.” There is a 2.0-liter turbo-four, generating 235 hp, or a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 276 hp. They are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. An all-wheel drive is an option. The Atlas also has a good ride and nice handling.

The Atlas has good fuel efficiency for a midsize SUV. It is rated for 21 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway with the turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With the V6, it gets 17 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway. The fuel efficiency drops slightly when all-wheel drive is added to either engine.

U.S. News doesn’t love the interior of the Atlas. It has a minimalist design, but it also has a mix of quality materials and hard plastics. In the cabin, the Atlas can seat either six or seven. There’s also plenty of room, even in the third row. Features like leather upholstery and heated and ventilated seats are available options. Both the Atlas and Pilot have comfortable seats, but the Atlas is a little larger than the Pilot and has more space in the second and third rows.

The Volkswagen Atlas offers a great amount of cargo space, although not as much as the Honda Pilot. The Atlas has 20.6 cubic feet behind the third row. It has 55.5 cubic feet with the third row folded down and 96.8 cubic feet with the second and third rows both folded down.

The Atlas has a standard 6.5-inch touchscreen, but an 8-inch display is available. The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Volkswagen Digital Cockpit is an available option. The 2021 Atlas has average predicted reliability, with a rating from U.S. News of three out of five.

The 2021 Atlas is priced between $31,545 and more than $47,000 for the highest of its four trims. Its starting price is pretty average for the class.

The 2021 Honda Pilot

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The Honda Pilot was designed longer ago than the Volkswagen Atlas. Its current generation appeared for the 2016 model year, although it has been updated in the years since then. For 2021, the Pilot added a nine-speed automatic transmission and standard dual-zone automatic climate control.

The Pilot has just one engine, but it’s more powerful than the engines in the Atlas. The 3.5-liter V6 produces 280 hp. It’s mated with a nine-speed automatic transmission. The Pilot has more agile handling than the Atlas and a great suspension. The Pilot is a bit more fuel-efficient than the Atlas. It’s rated for 20 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway. Adding all-wheel drive drops that rating by about one MPG.

U.S. News found the Pilot’s interior to be “upscale compared to many midsize SUVs.” It is slightly dated, but it has nicer materials and soft plastics. The Pilot can seat seven or eight people with plenty of space. Available options include leather upholstery and heated and ventilated seats. There is lots of cargo room in the Pilot, which has 18.5 cubic feet behind the third row and 55.9 cubic feet with the third row folded down. It has 109.2 cubic feet with both rows folded down.

The Pilot has a 5-inch display, but an 8-inch touchscreen is available that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. A Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless charging, and an entertainment system for the rear seats are available options. The 2021 Pilot isn’t as good as the Atlas for predicted reliability, earning just two out of five from U.S. News.

The 2021 Pilot is priced between $32,250 and about $50,000. It has seven trims and special editions. It isn’t the least or the most expensive for its size.

Why the Volkswagen Atlas is the overall winner

Both the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas and the 2021 Honda Pilot are great midsize SUVs. They offer plenty of room for passengers along with good fuel efficiency and safety ratings. The Pilot provides better performance and is best for families interested in the driving experience. The Atlas comes out on top in several categories and is great for many families. It has more cargo room and more standard tech features. The Atlas also has a better predicted reliability rating along with a lower price.