2019 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2019 Toyota Sienna

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 5 points, IIHS rates the Autonomous Emergency Braking optional in the Atlas as “Superior.” The Sienna scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

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 Sienna 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 Sienna doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the Atlas and the Sienna 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems and around view monitors.

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 Toyota Sienna:





5 Stars

4 Stars




5 Stars

4 Stars




Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

180 lbs.

218 lbs.

Neck Compression

46 lbs.

80 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

156/231 lbs.

604/305 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 Sienna:




Overall Evaluation






Head Neck Evaluation



Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

5 cm

Chest Evaluation



Max Chest Compression

23 cm

24 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation



Femur Force R/L

3.1/0 kN

4.3/.9 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L



Lower Leg Evaluation



Tibia index R/L



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 Toyota Sienna:





Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.5 inches

.6 inches

Abdominal Force

48 G’s

144 G’s

Hip Force

345 lbs.

391 lbs.


Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

52 G’s

Hip Force

527 lbs.

746 lbs.


Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

17 inches




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 Sienna was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.


The Atlas comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck. The Sienna’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 Sienna’s (10 vs. 5 years).


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

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Atlas has a standard 680-amp battery. The Sienna’s 582-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

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

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Atlas’ brake rotors are larger than those on the Sienna:




Front Rotors

13.2 inches

12.9 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 Sienna are solid, not vented.

The Atlas stops shorter than the Sienna:





70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

181 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Atlas has larger standard tires than the Sienna (245/60R18 vs. 235/60R17). The Atlas SEL Premium’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Sienna (265/45R21 vs. 235/60R17).

The Atlas SEL Premium’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Sienna SE’s 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Atlas has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Sienna L/LE/XLE. The Atlas SEL Premium’s optional 21-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the Sienna SE.

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 Toyota Sienna 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 Sienna 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 Sienna doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

The Atlas’ front to rear weight distribution is more even (55.1% to 44.9%) than the Sienna’s (56.3% to 43.7%). This gives the Atlas more stable handling and braking.

For greater off-road capability the Atlas has a 1.4 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Sienna (8 vs. 6.6 inches), allowing the Atlas to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.


The Volkswagen Atlas may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs up to about 200 pounds less than the Toyota Sienna.

Passenger Space

The Atlas has .3 inches more front headroom, 1 inch more front legroom and .7 inches more rear headroom than the Sienna.

Cargo Capacity

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 Sienna doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.


Maximum trailer towing in the Toyota Sienna is limited to 3500 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 Sienna 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.


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 Sienna can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

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 Sienna’s standard 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 Sienna doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

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

The Atlas’ standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. The Sienna L doesn’t offer heated side mirrors.

Both the Atlas and the Sienna offer available heated front seats. The Atlas SEL Premium also has standard heated second row seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated second row seats aren’t available in the Sienna.

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 Sienna doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

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 Sienna 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 Sienna only retains 45.34% to 51.03%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Atlas is less expensive to operate than the Sienna because it costs $36 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Atlas than the Sienna, including $204 less for a fuel pump.

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

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