2021 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2020 Lexus GX460

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 2020/08/09

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 GX460 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 GX460 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

For better protection of the passenger compartment, the Atlas uses safety cell construction with a three-dimensional high-strength frame that surrounds the passenger compartment. It provides extra impact protection and a sturdy mounting location for door hardware and side impact beams. The GX460 uses a body-on-frame design, which has no frame members above the floor of the vehicle.

Both the Atlas and the GX460 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, available all wheel drive, lane departure warning systems and around view monitors.

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 GX460 has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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The Atlas’ corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the GX460’s (7 vs. 6 years).

Volkswagen pays for scheduled maintenance on the Atlas for 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Lexus pays for maintenance for the GX460 (2/20,000 vs. 1/10,000).

There are almost 3 times as many Volkswagen dealers as there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Atlas’ warranty.

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 2020/08/09

The Volkswagen Atlas’ engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the GX460’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Atlas’ engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the GX460’s camshafts. If the GX460’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Atlas 4Motion V6 gets better fuel mileage than the GX460 (16 city/22 hwy vs. 15 city/19 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Atlas’ engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The GX460 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Volkswagen Atlas uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The GX460 requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Transmission

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An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Volkswagen Atlas, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the GX460.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Atlas stops much shorter than the GX460:

Atlas

GX460

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

184 feet

Car and Driver

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 GX460’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Atlas SEL Premium offers optional 21-inch wheels. The GX460’s largest wheels are only 18-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 2020/08/09

For superior ride and handling, the Volkswagen Atlas has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Lexus GX460 has a solid rear axle, with a non-independent rear suspension.

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 GX460 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Atlas’ wheelbase is 7.5 inches longer than on the GX460 (117.3 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Atlas is 4.8 inches wider in the front and 5.4 inches wider in the rear than on the GX460.

The Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion handles at .84 G’s, while the GX460 pulls only .74 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 GX460 (27.6 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 28.3 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Atlas’ turning circle is 3 feet tighter than the GX460’s (38.1 feet vs. 41.1 feet).

Chassis

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The Volkswagen Atlas may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 450 to 900 pounds less than the Lexus GX460.

Unibody construction lowers the Atlas’ center of gravity significantly without reducing ground clearance. This contributes to better on the road handling and better off-road performance and stability. In addition, unibody construction makes the chassis stiffer, improving handling and reducing squeaks and rattles. The GX460 uses body-on-frame design instead.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion is quieter than the GX460 (41 vs. 43 dB).

Passenger Space

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The Atlas has 24 cubic feet more passenger volume than the GX460 (153.7 vs. 129.7).

The Atlas has 3.3 inches more front headroom, 1.7 inches more front hip room, 6.1 inches more front shoulder room, 3.5 inches more rear legroom, 2.8 inches more rear hip room, 3.5 inches more rear shoulder room, 3.1 inches more third row headroom, 4.4 inches more third row legroom, 2 inches more third row hip room and .4 inches more third row shoulder room than the GX460.

The front step up height for the Atlas is 3.7 inches lower than the GX460 (18” vs. 21.7”). The Atlas’ rear step up height is 4 inches lower than the GX460’s (18” vs. 22”).

Cargo Capacity

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The Atlas’ cargo area provides more volume than the GX460.

Atlas

GX460

Behind Third Seat

20.6 cubic feet

11.6 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.5 cubic feet

46.7 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

96.8 cubic feet

64.7 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 GX460’s liftover is 33.8 inches.

The Atlas’ cargo area is larger than the GX460’s in every dimension:

Atlas

GX460

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

23.8”/53”/85”

9.8”/39”/75”

Max Width

61.6”

54.6”

Min Width

45”

43.4”

Height

37.5”

35.5”

The Atlas’ liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The GX460’s swing out door blocks loading from the passenger’s side.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium/R-Line has a standard power liftgate, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The GX460 doesn’t offer a power cargo door.

Ergonomics

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The Atlas’ power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The GX460’s parking brake has to released manually.

The Atlas’ power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The GX460’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

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 GX460’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 GX460 doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The Atlas’ power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The GX460’s power mirror controls are on the dash where they are possibly hidden by the steering wheel and are awkward to manipulate.

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 GX460 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 GX460 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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The Atlas is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The GX460 doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

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 GX460 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 GX460 because typical repairs cost less on the Atlas than the GX460, including $51 less for a starter, $135 less for a fuel pump and $18 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Volkswagen Atlas will be $9280 to $16592 less than for the Lexus GX460.

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 2020/08/09

The Volkswagen Atlas outsold the Lexus GX460 by over three to one during 2019.

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

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