2021 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2020 Ford Explorer

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 2020/08/13

Both the Atlas and the Explorer have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, available all wheel drive, lane departure warning systems and around view monitors.

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 Explorer:

Atlas

Explorer

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Restraints

GOOD

GOOD

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

23 cm

24 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Tibia index R/L

.46/.5

1.54/.5

Tibia forces R/L

2.1/.7 kN

2.8/2.1 kN

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 Explorer 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 2020/08/13

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 Explorer’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 Explorer’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. Ford doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Explorer.

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 2020/08/13

The Volkswagen Atlas’ engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Explorer’s 2.3 turbo 4-cylinder and 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid engine uses 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 Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

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 2020/08/13

As tested in Motor Trend the Volkswagen Atlas V6 is faster than the Ford Explorer V6 hybrid gas:

Atlas

Explorer

Zero to 60 MPH

7.3 sec

7.7 sec

Quarter Mile

15.6 sec

15.7 sec

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 2020/08/13

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Volkswagen Atlas uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The Explorer ST requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

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 2020/08/13

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 Explorer ST are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

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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 Explorer’s standard 65 series tires.

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 2020/08/13

The Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion handles at .84 G’s, while the Explorer XLT 4WD pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Atlas SE executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Explorer Limited 4WD (27.6 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 28 seconds @ .63 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Atlas’ turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the Explorer’s (38.1 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

For greater off-road capability the Atlas has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Explorer (8 vs. 7.9 inches), allowing the Atlas to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

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As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion is quieter than the Explorer ST 4WD (76 vs. 77 dB).

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 2020/08/13

The Atlas has .6 inches more front headroom, 1.5 inches more third row legroom, 4.2 inches more third row hip room and .3 inches more third row shoulder room than the Explorer.

Cargo Capacity

© 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 2020/08/13

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

Atlas

Explorer

Behind Third Seat

20.6 cubic feet

18.2 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.5 cubic feet

47.9 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

96.8 cubic feet

87.8 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 Explorer’s liftover is 31.1 inches.

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

Atlas

Explorer

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

23.8”/53”/85”

20.8”/49.8”/83.9”

Max Width

61.6”

59”

Min Width

45”

48.1”

Height

37.5”

33.7”

Servicing Ease

© 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 2020/08/13

The Atlas uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Explorer 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

© 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 2020/08/13

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 Explorer’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 Explorer’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 Explorer doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

When the Atlas SEL/SEL Premium is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Explorer’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

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