2020 Dodge Durango 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 2020/07/13

The Durango has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Atlas doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Both the Durango 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, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, front and rear parking sensors 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 Dodge Durango is safer than the Volkswagen Atlas:

Durango

Atlas

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

144

232

Neck Injury Risk

34%

34%

Neck Stress

251 lbs.

441 lbs.

Neck Compression

26 lbs.

51 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Compression

.7 inches

.7 inches

Neck Injury Risk

24%

33%

Neck Stress

85 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 Dodge Durango is safer than the Volkswagen Atlas:

Durango

Atlas

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

28

57

Hip Force

150 lbs.

345 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

25

144

Spine Acceleration

33 G’s

39 G’s

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

129

279

Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

51 G’s

Hip Force

666 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 2020/07/13

Dodge’s powertrain warranty covers the Durango 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Volkswagen covers the Atlas. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the Atlas ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

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

There are almost 4 times as many Dodge dealers as there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Durango’s warranty.

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 2020/07/13

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Durango has a standard 850-amp battery (700 V8). 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 Durango’s reliability 19 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 Dodge vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Dodge 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Dodge vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Dodge 19 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 2020/07/13

The Durango has more powerful engines than the Atlas:

Horsepower

Torque

Durango 3.6 DOHC V6

293 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

Durango Dual Exhaust 3.6 DOHC V6

295 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

Durango 5.7 V8

360 HP

390 lbs.-ft.

Atlas 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

235 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

Atlas 3.6 DOHC V6

276 HP

266 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Motor Trend the Dodge Durango is faster than the Volkswagen Atlas V6:

Durango Dual Exhaust V6

Durango V8

Atlas

Zero to 60 MPH

7.6 sec

6.4 sec

7.9 sec

Quarter Mile

15.8 sec

14.9 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

88.9 MPH

92.9 MPH

81.6 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 2020/07/13

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

MPG

Durango

RWD

3.6 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

AWD

3.6 DOHC V6

18 city/25 hwy

Atlas

FWD

3.6 DOHC V6

17 city/23 hwy

AWD

3.6 DOHC V6

16 city/22 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down some of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Durango V8’s fuel efficiency. The Atlas doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Dodge Durango uses regular unleaded gasoline (mid-grade octane recommended with the 5.7 V8 engine for maximum performance). The Atlas requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 5 to 40 cents more per gallon.

The Durango has 6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Atlas (24.6 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Durango V8’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Atlas:

Durango V8

Atlas

Front Rotors

13.8 inches

13.2 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

12.2 inches

The Durango stops much shorter than the Atlas:

Durango

Atlas

60 to 0 MPH

120 feet

139 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

© 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 2020/07/13

For better traction, the Durango has larger tires than the Atlas (265/60R18 vs. 245/60R18).

The Durango offers an optional full size spare tire so a flat doesn’t interrupt your trip. A full size spare isn’t available on the Atlas; it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which limits mileage and speed before replacement.

Suspension and Handling

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

The Durango offers an optional automatic rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The Atlas doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Durango’s wheelbase is 2.5 inches longer than on the Atlas (119.8 inches vs. 117.3 inches).

The Durango’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50% to 50%) than the Atlas’ (55.1% to 44.9%). This gives the Durango more stable handling and braking.

The Durango R/T 4x4 handles at .80 G’s, while the Atlas SEL 4Motion pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Durango R/T 4x4 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Atlas SEL 4Motion (27.4 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 27.9 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the Durango has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Atlas (8.1 vs. 8 inches), allowing the Durango to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

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 2020/07/13

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

Durango

Atlas

At idle

38 dB

41 dB

Full-Throttle

76 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

67 dB

68 dB

Payload and 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 2020/07/13

The Durango’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Atlas’ (6200 vs. 2000 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Volkswagen Atlas is only 5000 pounds. The Durango offers up to a 7400 lbs. towing capacity.

The Durango has a higher standard payload capacity than the Atlas (1380 vs. 1213 lbs.).

The Durango has a much higher maximum payload capacity than the Atlas (1460 vs. 1213 lbs.).

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 2020/07/13

The engine in the Durango 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

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The Durango GT/R/T/Citadel’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 Durango’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.

On a hot day the Durango’s driver can lower the front windows 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 Durango 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 Durango’s optional 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 Durango 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 Durango owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Durango will cost $110 less than the Atlas over a five-year period.

The Durango will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Durango will retain 46.91% to 51.92% of its original price after five years, while the Atlas only retains 39.77% to 41.75%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Durango is less expensive to operate than the Atlas because it costs $164 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Durango than the Atlas, including $465 less for a water pump, $394 less for a muffler, $8 less for front brake pads, $258 less for a starter, $295 less for fuel injection, $55 less for front struts, $465 less for a timing belt/chain and $471 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Dodge Durango will be $1225 to $3050 less than for the Volkswagen Atlas.

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 2020/07/13

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Durango second among midsize SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Atlas isn’t in the top three.

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

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