2021 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2020 Lexus RXL

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 RXL 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.

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

Warranty

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The Atlas’ corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the RXL’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 RXL (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

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

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Atlas has a standard 680-amp battery. The RXL’s 580-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

Engine

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As tested in Motor Trend the Volkswagen Atlas V6 is faster than the RX 350L 3.5 DOHC V6:

Atlas

RXL

Zero to 60 MPH

7.3 sec

7.6 sec

Quarter Mile

15.6 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.8 MPH

89.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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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.) Lexus only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the RXL Hybrid.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Volkswagen Atlas uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The RX 450hL requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Atlas has 1.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the RXL Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (18.6 vs. 17.2 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 RXL:

Atlas

RXL

Front Rotors

13.2 inches

12.9 inches

The Atlas stops shorter than the RXL:

Atlas

RXL

60 to 0 MPH

130 feet

133 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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

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 RXL’s standard 65 series tires. The Atlas SEL Premium’s optional tires have a lower 45 series profile than the RXL’s optional 55 series tires.

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

Suspension and Handling

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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 RXL 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 RXL (117.3 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Atlas is 2.8 inches wider in the front and 3.8 inches wider in the rear than on the RXL.

The Atlas SE handles at .81 G’s, while the RX 350L AWD pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Atlas SE executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the RX 350L (27.6 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 28.5 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Atlas’ turning circle is .7 feet tighter than the RXL’s (38.1 feet vs. 38.8 feet).

Chassis

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The Volkswagen Atlas may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 250 pounds less than the Lexus RXL.

Passenger Space

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The Atlas has 36.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the RXL (153.7 vs. 117).

The Atlas has 1.5 inches more front headroom, .1 inches more front legroom, 2.4 inches more front hip room, 3.2 inches more front shoulder room, 1.9 inches more rear headroom, 6.7 inches more rear legroom, 2.2 inches more rear hip room, 3 inches more rear shoulder room, 3.5 inches more third row headroom, 10.2 inches more third row legroom, 1.3 inches more third row hip room and 9.2 inches more third row shoulder room than the RXL.

The front step up height for the Atlas is 2.5 inches lower than the RXL (18” vs. 20.5”). The Atlas’ rear step up height is 2.8 inches lower than the RXL’s (18” vs. 20.8”).

Cargo Capacity

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

Atlas

RXL

Behind Third Seat

20.6 cubic feet

16.3 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.5 cubic feet

33.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

96.8 cubic feet

70.7 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 RXL’s liftover is 31.9 inches.

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

Atlas

RXL

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

23.8”/53”/85”

21.5”/48.5”/81”

Max Width

61.6”

51.8”

Min Width

45”

44”

Height

37.5”

30”

Towing

© 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’ standard towing capacity is much higher than the RXL’s (2000 vs. 0 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Lexus RXL is only 3500 pounds. The Atlas offers up to a 5000 lbs. towing capacity.

Ergonomics

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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 RXL’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

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 RXL doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

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 RXL 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 RXL doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Atlas owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Atlas will cost $600 less than the RXL over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Atlas is less expensive to operate than the RXL because typical repairs cost much less on the Atlas than the RXL, including $381 less for a water pump, $5 less for a starter, $3 less for a fuel pump, $617 less for a timing belt/chain and $972 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 $862 to $9504 less than for the Lexus RXL.

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