2020 Honda Pilot vs. 2019 Volkswagen Atlas

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Pilot 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, 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 Honda Pilot is safer than the Volkswagen Atlas:

Pilot

Atlas

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

149

232

Neck Injury Risk

28%

34%

Neck Stress

189 lbs.

441 lbs.

Neck Compression

46 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 Honda Pilot is safer than the Volkswagen Atlas:

Pilot

Atlas

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

269 lbs.

345 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

304 lbs.

527 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

45 G’s

51 G’s

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

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Acceptable” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Pilot the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 88 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Atlas was last qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

There are over 60 percent more Honda dealers than there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Pilot’s warranty.

Reliability

The engine in the Pilot has 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.

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 Pilot’s reliability 30 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 Honda vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Honda 16th in initial quality. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Honda vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Honda 1 place higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

The Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 45 more horsepower (280 vs. 235) and 4 lbs.-ft. more torque (262 vs. 258) than the Atlas’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 4 more horsepower (280 vs. 276) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the Honda Pilot is faster than the Volkswagen Atlas V6:

Pilot

Atlas

Zero to 30 MPH

2.2 sec

2.9 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6 sec

7.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

17.2 sec

20.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.3 sec

8.2 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.5 sec

3.9 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.7 sec

5.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.8 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

94 MPH

89 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Pilot

FWD

9-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/27 hwy

6-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/27 hwy

AWD

9-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

6-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

18 city/26 hwy

Atlas

FWD

8-spd

3.6 DOHC V6

17 city/24 hwy

AWD

8-spd

3.6 DOHC V6

17 city/23 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Pilot’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 Honda Pilot uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Atlas requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Pilot has almost a gallon more fuel capacity than the Atlas (19.5 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

The Pilot 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

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Honda Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Atlas.

Brakes and Stopping

The Pilot stops much shorter than the Atlas:

Pilot

Atlas

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

139 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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

The Pilot Elite 4WD 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 Pilot Elite 4WD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Atlas SEL 4Motion (27.5 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 27.9 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

Chassis

To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the Pilot has an electronically controlled liquid-filled main engine mount. A computer-controlled electric current in the liquid changes its viscosity, allowing the mount to dampen the engine completely at all RPMs. The Atlas uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

The Pilot 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 Pilot Elite 4WD is quieter than the Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion (37 vs. 41 dB).

Passenger Space

The Pilot has standard seating for 8 passengers; the Atlas can only carry 7.

The Pilot has .9 inches more front hip room, .5 inches more front shoulder room, .8 inches more rear legroom, 1.2 inches more rear shoulder room, .6 inches more third row headroom and 2.7 inches more third row shoulder room than the Atlas.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Pilot’s middle and third row seats recline. The Atlas’ third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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

Pilot

Atlas

Third Seat Folded

55.9 cubic feet

55.5 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

109 cubic feet

96.8 cubic feet

The Pilot has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Atlas doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

Towing

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

Ergonomics

The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s standard 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.

If the windows are left open on the Pilot 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 Pilot 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 Pilot’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Atlas’ headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”

The Pilot Elite/Black Edition has standard 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.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Honda Pilot Elite//Black Edition has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The Atlas doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Pilot owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Pilot will cost $710 to $3180 less than the Atlas over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Pilot is less expensive to operate than the Atlas because it costs $564 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Pilot than the Atlas, including $227 less for a water pump, $280 less for a muffler, $66 less for front brake pads, $234 less for a starter, $242 less for fuel injection, $262 less for front struts, $977 less for a timing belt/chain and $477 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Honda Pilot has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

Pilot

Atlas

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

FALSE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

The Honda Pilot outsold the Volkswagen Atlas by almost three to one during 2018.

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

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