2021 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2020 Chrysler Pacifica

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The Atlas has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Pacifica doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The Atlas offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Pacifica doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Both the Atlas and the Pacifica 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 lane departure warning systems and around view monitors.

Warranty

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The Atlas comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Pacifica’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The Atlas’ corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Pacifica’s (7 vs. 5 years).

Volkswagen pays for scheduled maintenance on the Atlas for 2 years and 20,000 miles. Volkswagen will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Chrysler doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Pacifica.

Reliability

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The Volkswagen Atlas’ engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Pacifica’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Chrysler vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Chrysler is ranked 16th.

Engine

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The Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 4 lbs.-ft. more torque (266 vs. 262) than the Pacifica’s standard 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the Volkswagen Atlas V6 is faster than the Chrysler Pacifica V6:

Atlas

Pacifica

Zero to 60 MPH

7.3 sec

7.7 sec

Quarter Mile

15.6 sec

15.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.8 MPH

89.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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The Atlas has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Pacifica Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (18.6 vs. 16.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Atlas’ front brake rotors are larger than those on the Pacifica:

Atlas

Pacifica

Front Rotors

13.2 inches

13 inches

The Atlas’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Pacifica are solid, not vented.

The Atlas stops shorter than the Pacifica:

Atlas

Pacifica

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

180 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

130 feet

131 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Atlas has larger standard tires than the Pacifica (245/60R18 vs. 235/65R17). The Atlas SEL Premium’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Pacifica (265/45R21 vs. 245/50R20).

The Atlas’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Pacifica’s standard 65 series tires. The Atlas SEL Premium’s optional tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Pacifica’s optional 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Atlas has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Pacifica. The Atlas SEL Premium’s optional 21-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels optional on the Pacifica.

Suspension and Handling

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For better maneuverability, the Atlas’ turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the Pacifica’s (38.1 feet vs. 39.7 feet).

Passenger Space

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The Atlas has 1.2 inches more front headroom, .4 inches more front legroom and .8 inches more rear headroom than the Pacifica.

Towing

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Maximum trailer towing in the Chrysler Pacifica is limited to 3600 pounds. The Atlas offers up to a 5000 lbs. towing capacity.

While the Pacifica Hybrid is not recommended to tow, any Atlas can tow a minimum of 2000 pounds.

Servicing Ease

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The Atlas uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Pacifica uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

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The Atlas’ front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Pacifica’s standard rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully. Only its driver’s window closes automatically. The Pacifica Touring-L Plus/Limited’s .

If the windows are left open on the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. The driver of the Pacifica can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Atlas’ rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Pacifica’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Pacifica doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Atlas offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Pacifica doesn’t offer cornering lights. The Atlas SEL/SEL Premium/R-Line also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Volkswagen Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium/R-Line has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Pacifica doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Atlas owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Atlas with a number “5” insurance rate while the Pacifica is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Atlas is less expensive to operate than the Pacifica because typical repairs cost less on the Atlas than the Pacifica, including $40 less for a muffler, $43 less for front brake pads and $24 less for a fuel pump.

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