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2021 Ford Explorer vs Volkswagen Atlas

2021 Ford Explorer vs Volkswagen Atlas

2021 Explorer vs Atlas - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

The SUV market is steadily growing and tapping into a new segment that has long been overlooked. Creating solutions for families in need of more space and busy parents constantly on the road, modern SUVs are comfortable enough to be in for long periods of time and spacious enough to pack in everything you need along the way. As a result, most auto brands have expanded their selection of SUV models. Ford and Volkswagen have followed this trend, although both brands have dabbled in the SUV market in previous years. In fact, the Volkswagen brand is known for pioneering family wagons that were a big hit. While Ford has offered a few of these models in the past, they are more focused than ever on their development of SUV models.

Ford and Volkswagen find themselves as the creators of two popular SUV models through the production of the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas. Both SUV options conquer the same purpose but are different in the way they approach it. The 2021 Ford Explorer is sporty and bold while drawing attention to itself wherever it roams. Yet, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is more conventional and laidback. Boasting a style that is easy and simplistic, this vehicle is perfect for busy families who already have enough to pay attention. Each of these SUVs seeks to create more space for customers who need it, but the Ford Explorer does so in a more modern way while the Volkswagen Atlas eases into it.

Each of these SUV models boasts their own strengths and downfall that potential buyers should consider. In the content below, we will look at each and point out where each one excels and where they also are at a disadvantage. Every buyer must decide as to which vehicle is the best choice for their circumstance. We hope these highlights will help each of you do just that.

Price Tip
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The Powertrain

Although SUV shoppers are not necessarily interested as much in power as they are space and convenience, the powertrain each model entails certainly makes a difference to those who may find themselves occasionally towing objects, like boats, trailers, or campers. Ironically, the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas each offer multiple engine options to choose from. The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas casually offers its duo of engines across all models. In fact, the 235-horsepower four-cylinder comes as standard, while the 276-horsepower V6 is offered as an upgrade. Each of these options is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Buyers also have a choice between rear-wheel and all-wheel drive. Offering acceleration that is quick enough to appease, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is a steady option.

If you are in search of something a bit bolder, the 2021 Ford Explorer offers a more adventurous outlook. The base model comes in with a standard 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that leads the way for power. A few models up are when potential buyers are introduced to a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that can produce up to 365 horsepower. Sitting at the top of the engine lineup for the 2021 Ford Explorer is a V6 version of the same engine that increases its horsepower to 400hp. Not only does the 2021 Ford Explorer offer all these options, but it also tops things off with an inclusive hybrid model that relies on a 3.3-liter V6 engine that is paired with an electric motor for an impressive 318 horsepower production.

Regardless of how much you drive, fuel economy is always a concern in any new or used vehicle purchase. Being able to estimate how much you will pay at the pump can help you budget for your new addition. The 2021 Ford Explorer performs much as you would assume, attaining up to 29 highway mpg in its hybrid layout and up to 27 highway mpg in its mid-level trim with a gasoline engine. Fuel efficiency for Explorer all-wheel drive models is also somewhat reduced. The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas falls short of what the Ford Explorer has to offer. The VW Atlas averages 24 highway mpg in its rear-wheel drive models and 22 highway mpg in front-wheel drive options. We always assume SUV models will not be friendly on fuel, but the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is even less fuel efficient than we would think.


How do these vehicles match up in the ride quality they offer to passengers within? To start off, the 2021 Ford Explorer is agreeable enough and composed. Yet, this SUV falls short of what we would consider to be entertaining. The ST trim level raises the bar a bit with a sportier style of handling, and its additional power and stiff steering wheel response is appreciated. The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas does not offer much more to look forward to, either. Oftentimes, it avoids a clumsy feel but replaces it with obedience to driver commands. Absorbing bumps well and adjusting to city streets and highway roads easily, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is a chameleon that plays into whatever environment you put it in.

Each of these models is quite accommodating for those who frequently travel with large groups of people. Third-row seating is offered in each, and this layout is complimented by plenty of cargo space for everyone within. Just four carry-on suitcases can be stowed behind the Explorer's third row with the seats folded up, which is quite depressing. Yet, when the third-row seat is folded down, a space large enough to carry 31 carry-on suitcases is showcased. Similarly, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas can hold just four carry-on suitcases with the third-row seat folded up, but upon laying it down 38 suitcases in total fit comfortably in this area. With way more space than we could ever imagine, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is quite impressive in its inclusive cargo area.

The tech elements of each of these models undoubtedly plays into their desirability. The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is straightforward with a 6.5-inch infotainment screen in the base model that can be upgraded to an 8.0-inch screen in higher trims. Modern smartphone integration and SiriusXM satellite radio are the highlights of this model. Yet, the 2021 Ford Explorer offers a more sophisticated and flexible tech system configuration. An 8.0-inch touchscreen comes standard in this model, which can be replaced with a vertical-oriented 10.1-inch touchscreen. Voice-activated navigation is included in every model, as well as a cohesive entertainment system in the rear seat.

Buying Tip:

To avoid overpaying on a new car, shop prices online first. Get up front pricing before you walk into a dealership. We recommend the following free services; Car Clearance Deals, NADAguides, CarsDirect & & Motortrend.
These free services will offer you the lowest prices and supply you with multiple competing price quotes. You will know the best price before you visit the dealer.


The 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas are more similar in their safety offerings than they are in any other facet. Both models achieved a five-star safety ranking from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but both also missed out on being named as a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS. Each of these SUV's offer a variety of driver assistive safety features, some of which are standard and others that are considered optional.

Features like forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and automated emergency braking are standard for the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas. Yet, the 2021 Ford Explorer adds in a few more amenities for buyers to take advantage of. Self-parking assist is a highlight of the Explorer SUV, which makes parking in tight spaces easier than ever before. Not to mention, lane-keeping assist is a feature that makes its way into the standard offerings of the 2021 Ford Explorer. Additionally, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas adds in standard adaptive cruise control that is paired with stop-and-go technology.

Which Has the Best Value?

Out of the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas, which one is considered to incorporate the best value? This question is something that must be evaluated by each buyer. Some of the attributes of each model may be more valuable to one buyer than they are to another. Yet, we can introduce a general theory of the SUV model that most would find to be of better value. In our mind, the 2021 Ford Explorer is the model to go with, and we will tell you why.

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is substandard to the 2021 Ford Explorer in many ways. It is less attractive, more basic, and has fewer powertrain options than the 2021 Ford Explorer does. While this may result in a higher cost of ownership for the Ford Explorer, buyers also gain access to more options in this SUV model. In general, the cost of each trim compared between the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is measured evenly across the board. Also, the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas are equally reliable. Produced by reputable automotive brands, the Explorer and the Atlas are known for their durability and resistance to the effects of high mileage. These are some of the reasons the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas are at the top of their class and renowned as top options by consumers.

Which is Better?

For the most part, the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas cater to an entirely different variety of buyers. The Ford Explorer appeases those interested in an athletic appearance, sporty performance, and bold tech integration. It shows off its finest attributes through its incorporation of modern technology within the cabin and spreads its bold design elements from the cabin to the exterior. Making a statement in every way possible, the 2021 Ford Explorer was made to stand out. Affordable to most middle-class consumers, the Ford Explorer is also affordable without compromising quality. In its highest trims it reaches an unexpected level of luxury, as well.

In contrast, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas does not quite meet the same height as the 2021 Ford Explorer. The Atlas is more than sufficient for buyers, but it does not quite offer the same level of bold styling the Ford Explorer does. In fact, the VW Atlas is rather conventional and simplistic. This works well for those craving a minimalist style. Its price reflects this compromise, as each trim level comes in a few thousand dollars less than the equivalent trim level of the Ford Explorer. Yet, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas offers a bit more storage space in the rear with the back seat folded down. Fitting a few more carry-on suitcases than the 2021 Ford Explorer, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is more accommodating in this area.

If we had to make a choice between the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas, the flexibility and diversity of the Ford Explorer would appeal to our senses. It is good-looking, powerful, safe, and affordability. Therefore, it meets all the key tenants desired in a new vehicle purchase. The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas gives the 2021 Ford Explorer a run for its money, but it just cannot surpass the charisma laid out by the legendary 2021 Ford Explorer.

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