2019 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Atlas has standard Autonomous Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Grand Caravan doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Atlas has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Grand Caravan 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.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Atlas SEL/SEL Premium has standard Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Grand Caravan doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Atlas offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Grand Caravan doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Atlas (except S)’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Grand Caravan doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Atlas SEL Premium has a standard Overhead View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Grand Caravan only offers a rear monitor.

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 Grand Caravan 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 Grand Caravan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Volkswagen Atlas is safer than the Dodge Grand Caravan:

 

Atlas

Grand Caravan

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

232

247

Neck Injury Risk

34%

36%

Leg Forces (l/r)

33/218 lbs.

776/782 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

33%

37%

Leg Forces (l/r)

156/231 lbs.

526/665 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Volkswagen Atlas is safer than the Grand Caravan:

 

Atlas

Grand Caravan

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Restraints

GOOD

POOR

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

 

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

17 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Femur Force R/L

3.1/0 kN

13.4/4 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

1%/0%

100%/1%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Tibia index R/L

.46/.5

2.29/.9

Tibia forces R/L

2.1/.7 kN

3.5/3.4 kN

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Volkswagen Atlas is safer than the Dodge Grand Caravan:

 

Atlas

Grand Caravan

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.5 inches

.9 inches

Abdominal Force

48 G’s

257 G’s

Hip Force

345 lbs.

625 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

54 G’s

Hip Force

527 lbs.

948 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

15 inches

HIC

279

294

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Atlas the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 139 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Grand Caravan was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

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

The Atlas’ corrosion warranty is 5 years and unlimited miles longer than the Grand Caravan’s (10/unlimited vs. 5/60,000).

Reliability

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

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Dodge vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 19th in reliability. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Dodge is ranked 23rd.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Dodge vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Volkswagen 5 places higher in reliability than Dodge.

Engine

The Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (266 vs. 260) than the Grand Caravan’s 3.6 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

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 Grand Caravan doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission

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

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Atlas’ front brake rotors are larger than those on the Grand Caravan:

 

Atlas

Grand Caravan

Front Rotors

13.2 inches

13 inches

The Atlas’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Grand Caravan are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Atlas has larger standard tires than the Grand Caravan (245/60R18 vs. 225/65R17). The Atlas SEL Premium’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Grand Caravan (265/45R21 vs. 225/65R17).

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 Grand Caravan’s standard 65 series tires. The Atlas SEL Premium’s optional tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Grand Caravan’s 65 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Atlas has standard 18-inch wheels. Only 17-inch wheels are available on the Grand Caravan. The Atlas SEL Premium offers optional 21-inch wheels.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Volkswagen Atlas has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Dodge Grand Caravan has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Atlas has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Grand Caravan doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

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 Grand Caravan doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Atlas is 1.6 inches wider in the front and 3 inches wider in the rear than on the Grand Caravan.

For better maneuverability, the Atlas’ turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the Grand Caravan’s (38.1 feet vs. 39.1 feet).

Chassis

The Volkswagen Atlas may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs up to about 300 pounds less than the Dodge Grand Caravan.

The Atlas is 5.4 inches shorter than the Grand Caravan, making the Atlas easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Atlas has 1.5 inches more front headroom, .8 inches more front legroom, 3.4 inches more rear headroom, .5 inches more rear legroom and .4 inches more third row headroom than the Grand Caravan.

Cargo Capacity

The Atlas’ available folding rear seats are split to accommodate bulky cargo. The Grand Caravan’s standard single piece folding rear seat is not as flexible; long cargo and a passenger can’t share the rear seat.

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

Towing

The Atlas’ minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the Grand Caravan’s (2000 vs. 1600 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Dodge Grand Caravan is only 3600 pounds. The Atlas offers up to a 5000 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The Atlas uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Grand Caravan uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

When three different drivers share the Atlas SEL/SEL Premium, the memory system makes it convenient for all three. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The Grand Caravan doesn’t offer a memory system.

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 Grand Caravan’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully. Only its driver’s window closes automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. The driver of the Grand Caravan can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

KESSY Keyless Access standard on the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium allows you to unlock the driver’s door, cargo door and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Dodge Grand Caravan doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Atlas has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Grand Caravan doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Atlas’ rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Grand Caravan’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Grand Caravan doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The Atlas has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Grand Caravan has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the SXT.

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 Grand Caravan doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Atlas offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Grand Caravan doesn’t offer cornering lights.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium has standard extendable sun visors. The Grand Caravan doesn’t offer extendable visors.

When the Atlas SEL/SEL Premium is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Grand Caravan’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Atlas SEL Premium keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Grand Caravan doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Atlas (except S) offers an optional Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Grand Caravan doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Standard App-Connect for the Atlas allows the driver and passengers access to select programs on their smartphones, including reading text messages aloud, playing internet radio stations, searching the internet and other connected activities without taking their eyes off the road or their hands from the wheel. The Grand Caravan doesn’t offer factory integrated smartphone program access.

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 Grand Caravan doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

The Atlas will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Atlas will retain 50.52% to 52.72% of its original price after five years, while the Grand Caravan only retains 35.14% to 40.13%.

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

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