2018 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2017 Nissan Armada

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The Atlas has standard post collision braking, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Armada doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

To help make backing safer, the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Armada doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

For better protection of the passenger compartment, the Atlas uses safety cell construction with a three-dimensional high-strength frame that surrounds the passenger compartment. It provides extra impact protection and a sturdy mounting location for door hardware and side impact beams. The Armada uses a body-on-frame design, which has no frame members above the floor of the vehicle.

The Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium has standard Car-Net, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Armada doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Atlas and the Armada have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.


The Atlas comes with a full 6 year/72000 mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck. The Armada’s 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty expires 3 years and 36,000 miles sooner.

The Atlas’ corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the Armada’s (10 vs. 5 years).


The Volkswagen Atlas’ engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Armada’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Atlas gets better fuel mileage than the Armada:








18 city/25 hwy

14 city/19 hwy




17 city/23 hwy

13 city/18 hwy


In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Atlas’ engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Armada doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.


An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Volkswagen Atlas, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the Armada.

Tires and Wheels

The Atlas’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Armada SV’s standard 70 series tires. The Atlas’ optional tires have a lower 50 series profile than the Armada SL/Platinum’s 60 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Atlas’ drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Armada doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For better maneuverability, the Atlas’ turning circle is 3.2 feet tighter than the Armada’s (38.1 feet vs. 41.3 feet).


The Volkswagen Atlas may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 1250 to 1450 pounds less than the Nissan Armada.

The Atlas is 10.6 inches shorter than the Armada, making the Atlas easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Unibody construction makes the Atlas’ chassis much stiffer, which contributes to better handling, and enables softer springs to be used for a better ride. Unibody construction’s stiffness also contributes to better durability and less body squeaks and rattles. The Armada doesn’t use unibody construction, but a body-on-frame design.

The design of the Volkswagen Atlas amounts to more than styling. The Atlas has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .34 Cd. That is lower than the Armada (.37). A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Atlas get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The Atlas has .4 inches more front headroom, .4 inches more rear headroom, 1.9 inches more third row headroom and 5.4 inches more third row legroom than the Armada.

Cargo Capacity

The Atlas’ cargo area provides more volume than the Armada.




Behind Third Seat

20.6 cubic feet

16.6 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.5 cubic feet

49.6 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

96.8 cubic feet

95.1 cubic feet

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Atlas SEL/SEL Premium’s cargo door can be opened just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Armada doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its cargo door, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

The Atlas has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Armada doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.


The power windows standard on both the Atlas and the Armada have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Atlas is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Armada prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Atlas’ front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Armada’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Armada doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Atlas SEL Premium detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Armada doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Atlas SEL/SEL Premium has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Armada doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

The Atlas SEL Premium’s Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Armada doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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