2021 Volvo XC90 vs. 2021 Volkswagen Atlas

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 2020/10/29

The XC90’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Atlas doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Volkswagen Atlas doesn’t offer height-adjustable middle seat belts.

Both the XC90 and Atlas have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC90 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Atlas’ child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Volvo XC90 offers an optional built in child booster seat. It’s more crash worthy than an added child seat because of its direct attachment to the seat. Volkswagen doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the Atlas. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; XC90 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the XC90 deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The XC90’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The Atlas’ airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The XC90 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Atlas doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The XC90’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Atlas doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the XC90 and the Atlas have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, 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 and available around view monitors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Volvo XC90 is safer than the Volkswagen Atlas:

XC90

Atlas

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

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

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 Volvo XC90 is safer than the Volkswagen Atlas:

XC90

Atlas

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

51

57

Hip Force

255 lbs.

345 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

94

144

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

14 inches

HIC

209

279

Spine Acceleration

29 G’s

51 G’s

Hip Force

383 lbs.

800 lbs.

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

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, its “Good” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the XC90 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 132 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Atlas was last qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

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The XC90’s corrosion warranty is 5 years and unlimited miles longer than the Atlas’ (12/unlimited vs. 7/100,000).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC90 for 1 year and 16000 miles longer than Volkswagen pays for maintenance for the Atlas (3/36,000 vs. 2/20,000).

Reliability

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To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the XC90 has a standard 800-amp battery. The Atlas’ 680-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the XC90 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the XC90’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Atlas’ battery is in the hot engine compartment.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Volvo vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Volvo 3 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

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The XC90 has more powerful engines than the Atlas:

Horsepower

Torque

XC90 T5 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

250 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

XC90 T6 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder

316 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

XC90 Recharge 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder hybrid

400 HP

472 lbs.-ft.

Atlas 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

235 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

Atlas 3.6 DOHC V6

276 HP

266 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Car and Driver the Volvo XC90 is faster than the Volkswagen Atlas V6:

XC90 T6

XC90 Recharge

Atlas

Zero to 30 MPH

2.3 sec

n/a

2.9 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6 sec

5.3 sec

7.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

15.5 sec

14.6 sec

20.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

7.1 sec

5.8 sec

8.2 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.4 sec

n/a

3.9 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.6 sec

n/a

5.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.6 sec

14 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

97 MPH

98 MPH

89 MPH

Top Speed

132 MPH

132 MPH

116 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 2020/10/29

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 Recharge running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Atlas:

MPGe

XC90

AWD

Electric Motor

58 city/53 hwy

Atlas

MPG

FWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/24 hwy

3.6 DOHC V6

17 city/23 hwy

AWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/24 hwy

3.6 DOHC V6

16 city/22 hwy

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the Atlas:

MPG

XC90

FWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

AWD

T8 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl. Hybrid

26 city/28 hwy

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/28 hwy

T6 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl.

19 city/28 hwy

Atlas

FWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/24 hwy

3.6 DOHC V6

17 city/23 hwy

AWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/24 hwy

3.6 DOHC V6

16 city/22 hwy

The XC90 Recharge can drive on battery power alone for up to 18 miles. The Atlas must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the XC90 T8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Atlas doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The XC90 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Atlas doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volvo XC90 higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Volkswagen Atlas (3 to 5). This means the XC90 produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Atlas every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the XC90’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Atlas:

XC90 T5/T6

XC90 Recharge

Atlas

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

14.4 inches

13.2 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

13.4 inches

12.2 inches

The XC90 stops much shorter than the Atlas:

XC90

Atlas

70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

174 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

139 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the XC90’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Atlas (275/45R20 vs. 265/45R21).

The XC90’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Atlas’ standard 60 series tires. The XC90’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Atlas SEL Premium’s optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the XC90 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the Atlas. The XC90’s optional 22-inch wheels are larger than the 21-inch wheels optional on the Atlas SEL Premium.

Suspension and Handling

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The XC90 has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the XC90 flat and controlled during cornering. The Atlas’ suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The XC90 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Atlas’ suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The XC90 R-Design/Inscription has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The XC90’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The Atlas doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The XC90’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.7% to 48.3%) than the Atlas’ (55.1% to 44.9%). This gives the XC90 more stable handling and braking.

The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Atlas SEL 4Motion pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The XC90 T6 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.1 seconds quicker than the Atlas SEL 4Motion (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 27.9 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the XC90 has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Atlas (8.3 vs. 8 inches), allowing the XC90 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The XC90 w/Air Suspension’s minimum ground clearance is 1.9 inches higher than on the Atlas (9.9 vs. 8 inches).

Chassis

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The XC90 is 6 inches shorter than the Atlas, making the XC90 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the XC90 T6 AWD is quieter than the Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion (71 vs. 76 dB).

Passenger Space

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The front step up height for the XC90 is 2.2 inches lower than the Atlas (15.8” vs. 18”). The XC90’s rear step up height is 2 inches lower than the Atlas’ (16” vs. 18”).

Cargo Capacity

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The XC90 has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Atlas doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the XC90’s optional third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Atlas doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

Towing

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The XC90’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the Atlas’ (4000 vs. 2000 pounds).

Ergonomics

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The XC90’s standard Easy Ingress and Egress Seat glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Atlas doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The XC90 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Atlas doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

If the windows are left open on the XC90 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Atlas can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the XC90 has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Atlas only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The XC90’s headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Atlas’ headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC90 has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Atlas doesn’t offer headlight washers.

A manual rear sunshade and rear side window sunshades are optional in the XC90 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Atlas doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The XC90’s standard rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Atlas has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The XC90 Inscription offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Atlas.

The XC90 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC90 is less expensive to operate than the Atlas because it costs $37 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the XC90 than the Atlas, including $356 less for a muffler, $107 less for a starter, $102 less for fuel injection, $158 less for front struts, $871 less for a timing belt/chain and $61 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

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The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Volvo XC90, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels.

Motor Trend selected the XC90 as their 2016 Sport Utility of the Year. The Atlas has never been chosen.

The XC90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The Atlas has never been an “All Star.”

A group of representative automotive journalists from North America selected the XC90 as the 2016 North American Truck of the Year. The Atlas has never been chosen.

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

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