2020 Acura MDX vs. 2021 Volkswagen Atlas

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

The MDX’s optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Atlas doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the MDX and the Atlas 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 all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

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

MDX

Atlas

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

22%

34%

Neck Stress

244 lbs.

441 lbs.

Neck Compression

34 lbs.

51 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Compression

.4 inches

.7 inches

Neck Injury Risk

29%

33%

Neck Stress

177 lbs.

180 lbs.

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

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 Acura MDX is safer than the Volkswagen Atlas:

MDX

Atlas

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

244 lbs.

345 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

133

144

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

14 inches

Spine Acceleration

37 G’s

51 G’s

Hip Force

481 lbs.

800 lbs.

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, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the MDX the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 153 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Atlas was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

Warranty

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

Acura’s powertrain warranty covers the MDX 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Volkswagen covers the Atlas. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Atlas ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The MDX’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Atlas’ (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

Reliability

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

The engines in the MDX have a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engines in the Atlas have dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Acura vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Acura 24th in initial quality. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th.

Engine

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

The MDX’s standard 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 55 more horsepower (290 vs. 235) and 9 lbs.-ft. more torque (267 vs. 258) than the Atlas’ standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The MDX’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 14 more horsepower (290 vs. 276) and 1 lbs.-ft. more torque (267 vs. 266) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6. The MDX Sport Hybrid’s standard 3.0 SOHC V6 hybrid produces 45 more horsepower (321 vs. 276) and 23 lbs.-ft. more torque (289 vs. 266) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the Acura MDX V6 is faster than the Volkswagen Atlas V6:

MDX

Atlas

Zero to 30 MPH

2.1 sec

2.9 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

7.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

16.4 sec

20.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.2 sec

8.2 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.5 sec

3.9 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.6 sec

5.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.6 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

95 MPH

89 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

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

MPG

MDX

2WD

3.5 DOHC 6 cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

4WD

3.5 DOHC 6 cyl.

19 city/26 hwy

A-Spec 3.5 DOHC 6 cyl.

19 city/25 hwy

Hybrid 3.0 DOHC 6 cyl.

26 city/27 hwy

Atlas

2WD

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/24 hwy

3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

17 city/23 hwy

4WD

4Motion 3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

16 city/22 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down some of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the MDX’s fuel efficiency. The Atlas doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

Regenerative brakes improve the MDX Sport Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Atlas doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The MDX’s standard fuel tank has almost a gallon more fuel capacity than the Atlas (19.5 vs. 18.6 gallons).

The MDX has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Atlas doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

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A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Acura MDX, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Atlas.

The MDX offers an available sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Atlas doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

The MDX stops much shorter than the Atlas:

MDX

Atlas

60 to 0 MPH

121 feet

139 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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The MDX has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Atlas doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

The MDX has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Atlas’ suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The MDX has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the MDX flat and controlled during cornering. The Atlas’ suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The MDX offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Atlas’ suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The MDX SH-AWD handles at .83 G’s, while the Atlas SEL 4Motion pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The MDX SH-AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Atlas SEL 4Motion (27 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 27.9 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

Chassis

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

The Acura MDX may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 250 pounds less than the Volkswagen Atlas.

The MDX is 4.8 inches shorter than the Atlas, making the MDX easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The MDX uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Atlas doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the MDX SH-AWD is quieter than the Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion:

MDX

Atlas

At idle

36 dB

41 dB

Full-Throttle

76 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

68 dB

68 dB

Towing

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

The MDX’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Atlas’ (3500 vs. 2000 pounds).

Servicing Ease

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Acura service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Acura 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 35% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

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The MDX’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Atlas doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The MDX offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Atlas doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

If the windows are left open on the MDX the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Atlas can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the MDX has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Atlas only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The MDX’s headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Atlas’ headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”

The MDX’s standard rear view mirror and optional side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Atlas has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The MDX has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium.

Economic Advantages

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the MDX is less expensive to operate than the Atlas because it costs $146 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the MDX than the Atlas, including $251 less for a water pump, $193 less for a muffler, $162 less for a starter, $196 less for front struts, $1024 less for a timing belt/chain and $104 less for a power steering pump.

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

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