2020 Buick Enclave 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 2020/07/10

For enhanced safety, the Buick Enclave’s middle seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Volkswagen Atlas doesn’t offer comfort guides on its middle seat belts.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Enclave are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Atlas doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Enclave has a standard front seat center airbag, which deploys between the driver and front passenger, protecting them from injuries caused by striking each other in serious side impacts. The Atlas doesn’t offer front seat center airbags.

Both the Enclave and the Atlas have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, 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, 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 Buick Enclave is safer than the Volkswagen Atlas:

Enclave

Atlas

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

216

232

Neck Injury Risk

15.6%

34%

Neck Stress

198 lbs.

441 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

53/40 lbs.

33/218 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 Buick Enclave is safer than the Volkswagen Atlas:

Enclave

Atlas

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

204 lbs.

345 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

134

144

Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

39 G’s

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

251

279

Spine Acceleration

34 G’s

51 G’s

Hip Force

554 lbs.

800 lbs.

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

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 2020/07/10

Buick’s powertrain warranty covers the Enclave 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 Enclave’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Atlas’ (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

There are over 3 times as many Buick dealers as there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Enclave’s warranty.

Reliability

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To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Enclave has a standard 730-amp battery. The Atlas’ 680-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Enclave’s reliability 35 points higher than the Atlas.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Buick vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 21 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Buick 9 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

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 2020/07/10

The Enclave’s 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 75 more horsepower (310 vs. 235) and 8 lbs.-ft. more torque (266 vs. 258) than the Atlas’ standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The Enclave’s 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 34 more horsepower (310 vs. 276) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the Buick Enclave is faster than the Volkswagen Atlas V6:

Enclave

Atlas

Zero to 30 MPH

2.5 sec

2.9 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6.6 sec

7.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

17.4 sec

20.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.8 sec

8.2 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.3 sec

3.9 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.5 sec

5.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

94 MPH

89 MPH

Top Speed

131 MPH

116 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 2020/07/10

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

MPG

Enclave

2WD

3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

18 city/26 hwy

4WD

3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

17 city/25 hwy

Atlas

2WD

3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

17 city/23 hwy

4WD

3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

16 city/22 hwy

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Buick Enclave uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Atlas requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Enclave AWD’s standard fuel tank has 3.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Atlas (21.7 vs. 18.6 gallons).

The Enclave 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.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Buick Enclave higher (6 out of 10) than the Volkswagen Atlas (3 to 5). This means the Enclave produces up to 23.4 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Atlas every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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

Brakes and Stopping

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The Enclave stops shorter than the Atlas:

Enclave

Atlas

60 to 0 MPH

134 feet

139 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Enclave has larger tires than the Atlas (255/65R18 vs. 245/60R18).

The Buick Enclave’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Volkswagen Atlas only has 5 wheel lugs per wheel.

The Enclave 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 2020/07/10

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

The Enclave 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.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Enclave’s wheelbase is 3.6 inches longer than on the Atlas (120.9 inches vs. 117.3 inches).

Chassis

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The front grille of the Enclave uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Atlas doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Enclave 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 while at idle, the interior of the Enclave Essence is quieter than the Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion (38 vs. 41 dB).

Passenger Space

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The Enclave has .9 inches more front hip room, .9 inches more front shoulder room, 1.3 inches more rear legroom, .9 inches more rear shoulder room, 3.4 inches more third row hip room and 2.4 inches more third row shoulder room than the Atlas.

Cargo Capacity

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The Enclave’s cargo area provides more volume than the Atlas.

Enclave

Atlas

Behind Third Seat

23.6 cubic feet

20.6 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

58 cubic feet

55.5 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

97.6 cubic feet

96.8 cubic feet

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the Enclave Premium/Avenir’s third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Atlas doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

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 2020/07/10

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Buick service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Buick 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 26% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

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The Enclave Premium/Avenir’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Atlas doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

If the windows are left open on the Enclave the driver can close them all from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can also lower the windows the same way. 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 Enclave 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 Enclave’s standard rear and 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 Enclave Premium/Avenir has standard massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Atlas.

The Enclave 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

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Insurance will cost less for the Enclave owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Enclave will cost $160 to $2435 less than the Atlas over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Enclave is less expensive to operate than the Atlas because typical repairs cost much less on the Enclave than the Atlas, including $75 less for a water pump, $291 less for a muffler, $331 less for a starter, $103 less for fuel injection, $324 less for front struts and $612 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

© 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 2020/07/10

Consumer Reports® recommends the Buick Enclave, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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

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