2020 Chevrolet Tahoe vs. 2019 Volkswagen Atlas

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front shoulder belts of the Chevrolet Tahoe are height-adjustable, and the middle and rear 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 or rear seat belts.

Both the Tahoe and Atlas have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Tahoe has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Atlas’ child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

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 Tahoe 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 Tahoe 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 Tahoe and the Atlas have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, front parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The Chevrolet Tahoe weighs 627 to 1380 pounds more than the Volkswagen Atlas. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

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

Tahoe

Atlas

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

223

232

Neck Injury Risk

33%

34%

Neck Stress

372 lbs.

441 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 Chevrolet Tahoe is safer than the Volkswagen Atlas:

Tahoe

Atlas

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

23

57

Hip Force

214 lbs.

345 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

107

144

Spine Acceleration

26 G’s

39 G’s

Hip Force

208 lbs.

527 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

50 G’s

51 G’s

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

Warranty

There are almost 5 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Tahoe’s warranty.

Reliability

The Tahoe has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Atlas doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Tahoe has a standard 720-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 Tahoe’s reliability 46 points higher than the Atlas.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Tahoe first among large SUVs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Atlas isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 28 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 Chevrolet vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

Engine

The Tahoe’s standard 5.3 V8 produces 120 more horsepower (355 vs. 235) and 125 lbs.-ft. more torque (383 vs. 258) than the Atlas’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The Tahoe’s 5.3 V8 produces 79 more horsepower (355 vs. 276) and 117 lbs.-ft. more torque (383 vs. 266) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6. The Tahoe’s optional 6.2 V8 produces 144 more horsepower (420 vs. 276) and 194 lbs.-ft. more torque (460 vs. 266) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the Chevrolet Tahoe 5.3 V8 is faster than the Volkswagen Atlas V6:

Tahoe

Atlas

Zero to 30 MPH

2.3 sec

2.9 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6.7 sec

7.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

18.1 sec

20.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

7.4 sec

8.2 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.8 sec

5.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.2 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92 MPH

89 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

The Tahoe has 7.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Atlas (26 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Chevrolet Tahoe EcoTec3 6.2 V8, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Atlas.

Brakes and Stopping

The Tahoe stops much shorter than the Atlas:

Tahoe

Atlas

60 to 0 MPH

121 feet

139 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Tahoe has larger standard tires than the Atlas (265/65R18 vs. 245/60R18). The Tahoe’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Atlas (285/45R22 vs. 265/45R21).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Tahoe offers optional 22-inch wheels. The Atlas’ largest wheels are only 21-inches.

The Chevrolet Tahoe’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 Tahoe 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

The Tahoe 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 Tahoe offers an optional automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The Tahoe’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The Atlas doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Tahoe is 1.5 inches wider in the front and .9 inches wider in the rear than on the Atlas.

The Tahoe’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.6% to 48.4%) than the Atlas’ (55.1% to 44.9%). This gives the Tahoe more stable handling and braking.

Chassis

The front grille of the Tahoe 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.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Tahoe Premier 4x4 is quieter than the Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion:

Tahoe

Atlas

At idle

39 dB

41 dB

Full-Throttle

71 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

66 dB

68 dB

Passenger Space

The Tahoe offers optional seating for 9 passengers; the Atlas can only carry 7.

The Tahoe has 1.5 inches more front headroom, 3.8 inches more front legroom, 2.6 inches more front hip room, 3.3 inches more front shoulder room, 1.4 inches more rear legroom, 2.3 inches more rear hip room, 4.3 inches more rear shoulder room, 4.2 inches more third row hip room and 7.7 inches more third row shoulder room than the Atlas.

Cargo Capacity

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Tahoe’s optional second and third row seats (not available on LS), to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Atlas doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

The Tahoe’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the liftgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The Atlas’ rear cargo window doesn’t open.

Payload and Towing

The Tahoe’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the Atlas’ (6400 vs. 2000 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Volkswagen Atlas is only 5000 pounds. The Tahoe offers up to a 8600 lbs. towing capacity.

The Tahoe has a much higher standard payload capacity than the Atlas (1670 vs. 1213 lbs.).

The Tahoe has a much higher maximum payload capacity than the Atlas (1720 vs. 1213 lbs.).

Servicing Ease

The engine in the Tahoe is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Atlas. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The Tahoe LT/Premier’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.

The Tahoe’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Atlas does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Tahoe Premier offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation 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.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Tahoe 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 Tahoe offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Atlas offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The Tahoe 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.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Chevrolet Tahoe Premier has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The Atlas doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Tahoe is less expensive to operate than the Atlas because typical repairs cost much less on the Tahoe than the Atlas, including $247 less for a water pump, $29 less for front brake pads, $415 less for a starter, $152 less for fuel injection, $275 less for front struts, $167 less for a timing belt/chain and $706 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Chevrolet Tahoe outsold the Volkswagen Atlas by 75% during 2018.

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

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