2021 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2020 Toyota Sequoia

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 Sequoia 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 Sequoia doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Full-time four-wheel drive is optional on the Atlas. Full-time four-wheel drive gives added traction for safety in all conditions, not just off-road, like the only system available on the Sequoia.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the Atlas 4Motion’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The Sequoia 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 Sequoia 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.

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 Sequoia uses a body-on-frame design, which has no frame members above the floor of the vehicle.

The Atlas has standard Car-Net, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Sequoia doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Atlas and the Sequoia 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 and available lane departure warning systems.

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 Sequoia has not been tested, yet.

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 Sequoia’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 Sequoia’s (7 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

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

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Atlas gets better fuel mileage than the Sequoia:

MPG

Atlas

2WD

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/24 hwy

3.6 DOHC V6

17 city/23 hwy

4WD

3.6 DOHC V6

16 city/22 hwy

Sequoia

2WD

5.7 DOHC V8

13 city/17 hwy

4WD

5.7 DOHC V8

13 city/17 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 Sequoia doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

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 Sequoia.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Atlas stops much shorter than the Sequoia:

Atlas

Sequoia

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

192 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

130 feet

139 feet

Motor Trend

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 Sequoia SR5’s standard 65 series tires. The Atlas SEL Premium’s optional tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Sequoia TRD Sport/Limited/Platinum/TRD Pro’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Atlas SEL Premium offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Sequoia’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 Sequoia doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

The Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion handles at .84 G’s, while the Sequoia Platinum 4x4 pulls only .71 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Atlas SE executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.2 seconds quicker than the Sequoia Limited 4x4 (27.6 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 29.8 seconds @ .55 average G’s).

Chassis

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The Volkswagen Atlas may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 1250 to 1500 pounds less than the Toyota Sequoia.

The Atlas is 4.1 inches shorter than the Sequoia, making the Atlas easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The Atlas is 7 inches shorter in height than the Sequoia, making the Atlas much easier to wash and garage and drive (lower center of gravity).

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 Sequoia uses body-on-frame design instead.

The design of the Volkswagen Atlas amounts to more than styling. The Atlas has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .34 Cd. That is lower than the Sequoia (.36). A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Atlas get better fuel mileage.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion is quieter than the Sequoia Platinum 4x4 (41 vs. 45 dB).

Passenger Space

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The Atlas has 6.5 inches more front headroom, 5.5 inches more rear headroom and 3.8 inches more third row headroom than the Sequoia.

The front step up height for the Atlas is 3 inches lower than the Sequoia (18” vs. 21”). The Atlas’ rear step up height is 4.2 inches lower than the Sequoia’s (18” vs. 22.2”).

Cargo Capacity

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

Atlas

Sequoia

Behind Third Seat

20.6 cubic feet

18.9 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 Sequoia’s liftover is 33 inches.

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

Atlas

Sequoia

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

23.8”/53”/85”

18.5”/52.5”/90.5”

Max Width

61.6”

54.5”

Min Width

45”

50”

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 Sequoia 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 engine computer on the Atlas automatically engages the starter until the car starts with one twist of the key and disables the starter while the engine is running. The Sequoia’s starter can be accidentally engaged while the engine is running, making a grinding noise and possibly damaging the starter and ring gear.

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

The power windows standard on both the Atlas and the Sequoia have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Atlas is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Sequoia prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

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

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 Sequoia’s power window (except driver window), power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

The Atlas has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Sequoia doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

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 Sequoia’s 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 Sequoia 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 Sequoia 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.

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

On extremely cold winter days, the Atlas SEL/SEL Premium’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Sequoia doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

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 Sequoia 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 Sequoia doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

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 Sequoia 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 Sequoia because typical repairs cost much less on the Atlas than the Sequoia, including $219 less for a starter and $229 less for a fuel pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Volkswagen Atlas will be $8812 to $14921 less than for the Toyota Sequoia.

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

The Volkswagen Atlas outsold the Toyota Sequoia by almost 8 to one during 2019.

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