2020 GMC Acadia 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 2020/05/29

The Acadia Denali’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.

For enhanced safety, the front shoulder belts of the GMC Acadia are height-adjustable, and the 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 Acadia 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 Acadia 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 Acadia 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, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, 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 GMC Acadia is safer than the Volkswagen Atlas:

Acadia

Atlas

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

138

232

Neck Injury Risk

22%

34%

Neck Stress

162 lbs.

441 lbs.

Neck Compression

16 lbs.

51 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 GMC Acadia is safer than the Volkswagen Atlas:

Acadia

Atlas

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

253 lbs.

345 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

14 inches

Spine Acceleration

33 G’s

51 G’s

Hip Force

673 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 2020/05/29

GMC’s powertrain warranty covers the Acadia 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.

There are almost 3 times as many GMC dealers as there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Acadia’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 2020/05/29

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 Acadia’s reliability 28 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 GMC vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks GMC 12th in initial quality. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that GMC vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks GMC 5 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

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The Acadia’s optional 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 34 more horsepower (310 vs. 276) and 5 lbs.-ft. more torque (271 vs. 266) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Acadia

2WD

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/28 hwy

2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

21 city/27 hwy

3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

19 city/27 hwy

4WD

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/27 hwy

3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

18 city/25 hwy

Atlas

2WD

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/24 hwy

3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

17 city/23 hwy

4WD

3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

16 city/22 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the Acadia 2.0 Turbo’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Atlas doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

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

The Acadia 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 GMC Acadia higher (5 to 6 out of 10) than the Volkswagen Atlas (3 to 5). This means the Acadia 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 GMC Acadia, 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 Acadia stops much shorter than the Atlas:

Acadia

Atlas

70 to 0 MPH

173 feet

174 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

126 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 2020/05/29

The GMC Acadia’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 Acadia 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

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

The Acadia 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 Acadia Denali AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Acadia SLT AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1 seconds quicker than the Atlas SEL 4Motion (26.9 seconds @ .67 average G’s vs. 27.9 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

Chassis

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The GMC Acadia may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 350 pounds less than the Volkswagen Atlas.

The Acadia is 7.6 inches shorter than the Atlas, making the Acadia easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The front grille of the Acadia FWD 4 cyl. 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 Acadia 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.

Cargo Capacity

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Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Acadia’s second row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Atlas doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

Ergonomics

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The Acadia (except SL/SLE/AT4)’s optional easy entry system 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.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Acadia 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 Acadia SLT/AT4/Denali’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 Acadia 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 Acadia owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Acadia will cost $685 less than the Atlas over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Acadia is less expensive to operate than the Atlas because typical repairs cost much less on the Acadia than the Atlas, including $295 less for a water pump, $309 less for a muffler, $354 less for a starter, $218 less for fuel injection, $301 less for front struts, $237 less for a timing belt/chain and $28 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the GMC Acadia will be $1402 to $2495 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 2020/05/29

The GMC Acadia outsold the Volkswagen Atlas by 22% during 2019.

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

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