2020 Lexus RXL 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 RXL 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.

The RXL’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 RXL 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, 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, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the RXL the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 30 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Atlas does not qualify as a “Top Pick.”

Warranty

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Lexus’ powertrain warranty covers the RXL 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 RXL’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 RXL’s reliability 60 points higher than the Atlas.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the RXL first among midsize premium 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 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 RX 350L’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 55 more horsepower (290 vs. 235) and 5 lbs.-ft. more torque (263 vs. 258) than the Atlas’ standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The RX 350L’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 14 more horsepower (290 vs. 276) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6. The RX 450hL’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 32 more horsepower (308 vs. 276) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the RX 350L is faster than the Volkswagen Atlas V6:

RXL

Atlas

Zero to 60 MPH

7.5 sec

7.9 sec

Quarter Mile

15.7 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

91.1 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 2020/06/03

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

MPG

RXL

FWD

3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

AWD

450h 3.5 DOHC V6

29 city/28 hwy

3.5 DOHC V8

18 city/25 hwy

Atlas

FWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/24 hwy

3.6 DOHC V6

17 city/23 hwy

AWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/24 hwy

3.6 DOHC V6

16 city/22 hwy

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

Transmission

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The RX 450hL has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Atlas doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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The RXL stops much shorter than the Atlas:

RXL

Atlas

60 to 0 MPH

128 feet

139 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

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

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

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

Chassis

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The RXL is 4.1 inches shorter than the Atlas, making the RXL easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the RXL has an electronically controlled liquid-filled front 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.

Cargo Capacity

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The RXL 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 RXL’s optional second and third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Atlas doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

Servicing Ease

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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 RXL’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.

The RXL 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.

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

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

The RXL’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 RXL 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 RXL will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the RXL will retain 49.54% to 51.36% 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 RXL is less expensive to operate than the Atlas because it costs $182 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the RXL than the Atlas, including $230 less for a muffler, $7 less for front brake pads, $212 less for fuel injection and $347 less for front struts.

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® chose the Lexus RXL as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Lexus RX Series outsold the Volkswagen Atlas by 36% during 2019.

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

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