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2021 Toyota Highlander vs Volkswagen Atlas

2021 Toyota Highlander vs Volkswagen Atlas
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

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

At one point in time, family wagons were all the rage. Throwing it back to the good old days, the 2021 Toyota Highlander and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas have put a modern spin on a traditional favorite. Who says you must be frumpy and conventional to get your family where they need to go? The VW Atlas and the Toyota Highlander make it easy to transport your family and friends in style. Improving upon the attributes of the wagon configuration we have all come to know and love, these two contemporary models offer their own take on what fun family style can look like.

The 2021 Toyota Highlander is setting the standard for SUVs in its class with a hybrid powertrain and an expansive list of features. Not only does this model provide convenient comfort, but it also comes tailored to meet owner needs. Additionally appreciated for its high value and generous storage space, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas adds personality to traditional SUV styling crafted by a reputable brand known for their dependability. With both models leading head-to-head as top contenders on today’s market - there's something here sure to make buyers feel at home no matter which they choose.

The Powertrain

In 2021, SUV shoppers have a wide range of powertrain options to choose from. The Toyota Highlander and Volkswagen Atlas offer thrilling diversity - while the latter's two engines are both gasoline-powered (a four cylinder 235 hp motor or V6 276 hp one), buyers also get their pick between front wheel drive and all wheel drive as well as an eight speed automatic transmission for smoother acceleration than ever before.

The 2021 Toyota Highlander delivers an unbeatable driving experience no matter the weather. With two powertrain options, drivers can choose between a traditional gasoline engine or hybrid system to suit their needs. For those wanting maximum performance and efficiency, models featuring the innovative 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid provide 295 horsepower along with effortless acceleration courtesy of its eight-speed automatic transmission - taking your road trips and daily commutes to next level.

With its remarkable fuel efficiency, the 2021 Toyota Highlander is firmly established as a leader in automotive excellence. The hybrid model offers incredible performance with an average of 35 highway mpg and 36 city mpg to satisfy even the most discerning driver's expectations. In comparison to other competitors like Volkswagen Atlas, which only manages 27 highway mpg at best, it’s easy to see why this iconic SUV remains unrivaled.


For those who prioritize comfort and convenience, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is an ideal choice. It caters to practical family travel with its uncomplicated interior design and abundant third-row seating for passengers or cargo space - truly embodying what it means to be 'user friendly'. While perfect for functionality, one can't help but wish that a bit more style had been incorporated into this model's cabin. Fortunately though, brands like Toyota never fail us in regard appreciation of prioritizing modern aesthetics within their vehicle interiors.

The 2021 Toyota Highlander is a perfect example of progress in interior design; with seven- or eight-seat arrangements, generous passenger space and improved materials making it an indisputable choice for guest comfort. Even the base models boast convenience features to keep everyone feeling at home no matter where they go! For those wanting even more luxury, higher trims offer maximum enjoyment without compromising style or function.

The cargo space in each of these models are what consumers are widely curious about. Do they have enough space to fit all the belongings of passengers? Can they comfortably accommodate multiple suitcases? The 2021 Toyota Highlander and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas are both spacious without being too large to easily navigate. For the Toyota Highlander, this means four suitcases can fit behind the third row without hindering passenger space in the back seat. The Volkswagen Atlas also fit four suitcases behind the third row with ease. However, when the second and third row seats are stowed away, the VW Atlas creates much more cargo room than the Toyota Highlander. The Atlas features nearly 97 cubic feet of cargo space compared to the Highlander's 84 cubic feet.

Another point to consider when comparing the 2021 Toyota Highlander and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is how entertaining the ride is for passengers. To improve this facet, each of these model incorporates touchscreen infotainment systems, but access to various apps depends on the SUV you select. While the Toyota Highlander offers a standard 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, this is upgraded to a 12.3-layout in higher trims. The Volkswagen Atlas' touchscreen starts out at 6.5-inches, and an upgrade to an 8.0-inch screen is optional. Additionally, the Highlander offers Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio across all trims, while the Atlas reserves these amenities for its most inclusive top trims.

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.


Accidents happen. While it's not always possible to prevent them, choosing the right vehicle can make all the difference when safety is of utmost importance. Buyers should seriously consider a car's crashworthiness and driver-assistive features before investing in it - they are essential components in helping keep you and your passengers secure during an unfortunate incident on the road. It pays off to invest wisely: Vehicles with these enhancements have been commended by expert rating agencies as well consumers alike for their reliable protection capabilities.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration scores the 2021 Toyota Highlander and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas similarly in their evaluation of safety attributes. Each of these SUV's scores a five-star safety rating from the prestigious NHTSA. The Highlander's incorporation of a wide array of driver assistive safety features across all models plays into this accolade, as does the mixture of safety and available features offered by the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas. Yet, these two models differ in their crash-testing results released by the IIHS. While the 2021 Toyota Highlander is named as a Top Safety Pick, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas missed out on this designation.

The inclusion of driver-assistive safety features is evaluated by modern buyers to help them determine the ultimate value of a new model. Toyota makes a big deal out of its driver-assistive safety suite of features, commonly referred to as Toyota Safety Sense. It is this package that spreads automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and more across all models. The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas also integrates safety features throughout its trims, but it does so in a way that is not as comprehensive as the Highlander. Also, some features, like adaptive cruise control, are not standard but available as upgrades.

Which Has the Best Value?

A vehicle's value is relevant to the buyer because they want to ensure they are getting the most for their money. Aspects of cost in relation to the amenities an SUV provides plays a big role in the evaluation of a vehicle's innate value. Trim level options and the features incorporated within each trim should also be considered. Between the 2021 Toyota Highlander and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas, which model offers the better value for buyers? Let's look at how they compare.

The 2021 Toyota Highlander starts off at a higher MSRP than the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas. Yet, as we work our way up the trim levels the VW Atlas begins to overtake the Highlander in terms of cost. In the end, the top trim of the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is priced higher than the similar trim for the 2021 Toyota Highlander. One might assume this is because the trims of the Volkswagen Atlas improve significantly over those of the Toyota Highlander, but it does not appear this is the case.

Within its models, the Toyota Highlander edges over the Volkswagen Atlas with its hybrid powertrain option, more progressive tech attributes, and abundance of safety features.

Since the 2021 Toyota Highlander is outfitted with a better array of features across the board at a similar price, we view this SUV to be the better value over the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas. It simply has more to offer without being significantly more costly, and that is what we enjoy about the Toyota Highlander.

Which is Better?

Despite considering which model is a better value, some buyers simply prefer the look and feel of one vehicle over another. Taking value out of the equation for a minute, we can envision which of these models would cater the needs of a certain type of buyer better than the other.

Buyers who desire a simple and straightforward SUV will enjoy the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas without a doubt. Its practical interior, easy-to-use design, and limited powertrain options show buyers that what you see is what you get in this model. There are no surprises along the way or complicated choices to make. Buyers are provided with a specific set of trims with concrete options, and some consumers love that about the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas. It provides family transportation that is abundance in space and confident in what it has to offer.

The 2021 Toyota Highlander is making waves in the SUV market, offering an innovative hybrid powertrain and a range of driver-assistive safety features for buyers looking for maximum value. With sustainability, affordability and technology all rolled into one package, it's no surprise that many are choosing this contemporary vehicle over its competition - yet at the end of the day you're always going to get what matters most to you out of whichever model fits your lifestyle best.

Used 2021 Toyota Highlander: