2021 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2020 Dodge Durango

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 2020/08/11

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 Durango 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.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Atlas SEL/SEL Premium has standard Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Durango doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the Atlas 4Motion’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The Durango doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

The Atlas SEL Premium has a standard Overhead View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Durango only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the Atlas and the Durango 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, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive and lane departure warning systems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Volkswagen Atlas is safer than the Dodge Durango:

Atlas

Durango

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

34%

34%

Leg Forces (l/r)

33/218 lbs.

427/350 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

138

344

Chest Compression

.7 inches

.7 inches

Neck Compression

46 lbs.

123 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

156/231 lbs.

404/224 lbs.

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

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Volkswagen Atlas is safer than the Durango:

Atlas

Durango

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

9 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

23 cm

26 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Femur Force R/L

3.1/0 kN

5.3/2.5 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

1%/0%

6%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Tibia index R/L

.46/.5

1.53/.59

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 Volkswagen Atlas is safer than the Dodge Durango:

Atlas

Durango

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.5 inches

1.1 inches

Abdominal Force

48 G’s

112 G’s

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

527 lbs.

542 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

14 inches

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

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Atlas the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 198 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Durango was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

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 2020/08/11

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 Durango’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 Durango’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. Dodge doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Durango.

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 2020/08/11

The Volkswagen Atlas’ engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Durango’s 3.6 DOHC V6 engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

For smoother operation, better efficiency and fewer moving parts, the engines in the Atlas have an overhead cam design, rather than the old pushrod design of the 5.7 V8 in the Durango.

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 Dodge vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 47 more problems per 100 vehicles, Dodge is ranked 28th.

Engine

© 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 2020/08/11

As tested in Motor Trend the Volkswagen Atlas V6 is faster than the Durango Dual Exhaust 3.6 DOHC V6:

Atlas

Durango

Zero to 60 MPH

7.3 sec

8 sec

Quarter Mile

15.6 sec

16.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.8 MPH

86.9 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 2020/08/11

Regardless of its engine, the Atlas’ engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Dodge only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Durango V6.

Brakes and Stopping

© 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 2020/08/11

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

Atlas

Durango

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 standard on the Durango V6 are solid, not vented.

The Atlas stops much shorter than the Durango:

Atlas

Durango

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

190 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

130 feet

142 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Atlas SEL Premium offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Durango’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.

Suspension and Handling

© 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 2020/08/11

The Atlas’ drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Durango doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Atlas is 3.3 inches wider in the front and 3.7 inches wider in the rear than on the Durango.

The Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion handles at .84 G’s, while the Durango GT pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Atlas SE executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.2 seconds quicker than the Durango GT 4x4 (27.6 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 28.8 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Atlas’ turning circle is 2.9 feet tighter than the Durango’s (38.1 feet vs. 41 feet).

Chassis

© 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 2020/08/11

The Volkswagen Atlas may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 450 to 700 pounds less than the Dodge Durango.

Passenger Space

© 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 2020/08/11

The Atlas has 12.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Durango (153.7 vs. 141.4).

The Atlas has 1.4 inches more front headroom, 1.2 inches more front legroom, 1.2 inches more front hip room, 3 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear headroom, 2.5 inches more rear hip room, 3.1 inches more rear shoulder room, .5 inches more third row headroom, .2 inches more third row legroom, 2.7 inches more third row hip room and 4.5 inches more third row shoulder room than the Durango.

The front step up height for the Atlas is 2.5 inches lower than the Durango (18” vs. 20.5”). The Atlas’ rear step up height is 2.6 inches lower than the Durango’s (18” vs. 20.6”).

Cargo Capacity

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The Atlas’ cargo area provides more volume than the Durango.

Atlas

Durango

Behind Third Seat

20.6 cubic feet

17.2 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.5 cubic feet

43.3 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

96.8 cubic feet

85.1 cubic feet

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Atlas easier. The Atlas’ cargo hatch lift-over height is 29.7 inches, while the Durango’s liftover is 32.2 inches.

The Atlas’ cargo area is larger than the Durango’s in every dimension:

Atlas

Durango

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

23.8”/53”/85”

20”/50”/83”

Max Width

61.6”

49”

Min Width

45”

42.5”

Height

37.5”

36”

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Atlas’ available liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Durango doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics

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The Atlas’ power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Durango’s parking brake has to released manually.

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 Durango’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

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 Durango’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

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 Durango 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 Durango 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.

Manual rear side window sunshades are available in the Atlas to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Durango doesn’t offer rear side window sunshades.

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 Durango doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The Atlas SEL Premium’s Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Durango doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

© 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 2020/08/11

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 Durango 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 Durango because typical repairs cost less on the Atlas than the Durango, including $59 less for a fuel pump.

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 2020/08/11

Car and Driver performed a comparison test in its August 2017 issue and they ranked the Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion two places higher than the Dodge Durango GT 4x4.

The Volkswagen Atlas outsold the Dodge Durango by 21% during 2019.

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

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