2020 Lexus GX460 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 2020/06/03

The GX460’s 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 and middle seat shoulder belts of the Lexus GX460 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Volkswagen Atlas doesn’t offer height-adjustable middle seat belts.

The GX460 has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Atlas doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the GX460. But it costs extra on the Atlas.

The GX460’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Atlas doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the GX460 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning and available around view monitors.

The Lexus GX460 weighs 402 to 965 pounds more than the Volkswagen Atlas. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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Lexus’ powertrain warranty covers the GX460 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 GX460’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Atlas’ (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

Reliability

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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 GX460’s reliability 78 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 Lexus vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 23 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 Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Volkswagen is ranked 27th.

Engine

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The GX460’s 4.6 DOHC V8 produces 66 more horsepower (301 vs. 235) and 71 lbs.-ft. more torque (329 vs. 258) than the Atlas’ standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The GX460’s 4.6 DOHC V8 produces 25 more horsepower (301 vs. 276) and 63 lbs.-ft. more torque (329 vs. 266) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the Lexus GX460 is faster than the Volkswagen Atlas V6:

GX460

Atlas

Zero to 60 MPH

6.9 sec

7.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

20 sec

20.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

7.4 sec

8.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.4 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

91 MPH

89 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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The GX460 has 4.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Atlas (23 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping

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The GX460 stops much shorter than the Atlas:

GX460

Atlas

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

139 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the GX460 has larger tires than the Atlas (265/60R18 vs. 245/60R18).

The Lexus GX460’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 GX460 has a standard 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 GX460 has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Atlas’ suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The GX460 has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the GX460 flat and controlled during cornering. The Atlas’ suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The GX460 has active sway bars, which help keep it flat and controlled during cornering, but disconnect at lower speeds to smooth the ride and offer greater off-road suspension articulation. This helps keep the tires glued to the road on-road and off. The Atlas doesn’t offer an active sway bar system.

The GX460 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 GX460 Luxury has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The GX460’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.

The GX460’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (52% to 48%) than the Atlas’ (55.1% to 44.9%). This gives the GX460 more stable handling and braking.

For greater off-road capability the GX460 has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Atlas (8.1 vs. 8 inches), allowing the GX460 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

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The GX460 is 8.9 inches shorter than the Atlas, making the GX460 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the GX460 is quieter than the Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion (73 vs. 76 dB).

Passenger Space

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For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the GX460’s middle row seats recline, and the GX460 Luxury’s third row seats also recline. The Atlas’ third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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The GX460 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.

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the GX460 Luxury’s third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Atlas doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

The GX460’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the right swing out door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The Atlas’ rear cargo window doesn’t open.

Payload and Towing

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The GX460’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Atlas’ (6500 vs. 2000 pounds).

The GX460 has a higher standard payload capacity than the Atlas (1295 vs. 1213 lbs.).

Servicing Ease

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The engine in the GX460 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.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 50% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

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The GX460’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back, 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 GX460 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 GX460 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.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The GX460 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Atlas doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The GX460’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 GX460 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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The GX460 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the GX460 will retain 49.39% to 52.53% 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 GX460 is less expensive to operate than the Atlas because it costs $264 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the GX460 than the Atlas, including $288 less for a water pump, $170 less for a muffler, $84 less for front brake pads, $94 less for fuel injection, $360 less for front struts and $155 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 2020/06/03

Consumer Reports® recommends the Lexus GX460, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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

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