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2021 Toyota Highlander vs Volkswagen Atlas

2021 Toyota Highlander vs Volkswagen Atlas

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.

Throwing in a hybrid powertrain and loaded down with standard features, the 2021 Toyota Highlander sets the pace for competitors. Not only is this model innovative, but it is also owner-centered in its incorporation of attributes. Convenient and comfortable, the 2021 Toyota Highlander is an SUV to keep your eye on. Also gaining popularity for its inherent value and ample cargo space, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is a common consideration among buyers in this class. Developed by a brand that is known for its utility, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas adds a bit of style and character to an otherwise sturdy SUV model.

Each of these SUV models excels in their own categories, but they maintain similar preference among consumers in search of extra space and features. They both keep the customer at the forefront of their design and development, which takes them far beyond the level other SUV competitors can reach. Let us see how they match up in other areas, too.

Price Tip
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The Powertrain

Variety is key when it comes to competing powertrains among SUV options. The 2021 Toyota Highlander and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas each offer two different powertrain variations, although their selections are quite different from one another. The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas relies on one of two gasoline-powered engines. Buyers can choose between a four-cylinder 235-horsepower engine or a V-6 276-horsepower motor. Standard acceleration makes each of these engine styles feel rather ordinary, while the V-6 does offer up a bit more refinement. Each of these engines are paired with front-wheel or all-wheel drive and a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 2021 Toyota Highlander puts in its own take on power with a choice between a conventional gasoline engine or a hybrid configuration. A powerful 3.5-liter V-6 capable of producing 295 horsepower graces the entry-level models of the Toyota Highlander. Its pairing with an eight-speed automatic transmission allows it to acceleration without hesitation, while its accompanied front-wheel or all-wheel drive makes a difference in how it drives in varying weather conditions. However, the 2021 Toyota Highlander puts a spin on things when it introduces a hybrid powertrain layout that consists of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine alongside a duo of electric motors.

Fulfilling consumer expectations, the 2021 Toyota Highlander is renowned for its fuel efficiency. In fact, 35 highway mpg and 36 city mpg are the average fuel economy for this hybrid model. However, even when you compare the gasoline-based models of the 2021 Toyota Highlander and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas, the Highlander still manages to come out on top. With a standard 29 highway mpg fuel economy, the Highlander reigns supreme over the Volkswagen Atlas that only manages 27 highway mpg fuel economy in its best configuration.


The comfort and convenience you feel within the cabin of the vehicle you are driving is indicative of how a brand views these attributes as priorities for their buyers. Toyota and Volkswagen are known for keeping the interests of their dedicated followers in mind in the design of their vehicle interiors, and the Highlander and Atlas are proof of that. In fact, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas keeps it simple on the inside with practical controls and utility in its design. Its uncomplicated approach to family travel is appreciated by buyers, as is its third-row seating that offers up more space for passengers and cargo. The only thing we wish the Volkswagen Atlas improved upon would be its lack of stylish attributes.

In comparison, the 2021 Toyota Highlander boasts much more variety in its interior amenities and design elements. It has seven- or eight-seat arrangements that buyers can select depending on their needs and generous passenger space to help guests feel at home without the cabin of this SUV. Improvements in interior materials from prior generations amplify the style of the Highlander, too, so buyers can expect to see improvement in this area. Of course, the topmost trims of the Toyota Highlander are the most outfitted with convenience features, but even the lower trims boast some level of comfort for enjoyment.

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.


The safety of a vehicle can be measured in many ways. Whether it is through a national agency or the security of passengers involved in a crash, how safe a vehicle is should be seriously considered by a buyer prior to purchase. After all, a vehicle's crashworthiness and driver-assistive safety features are what will help you and your passengers stay safe in the event of a collision. While this is not always guaranteed, vehicles with safety enhancements like these are commended by safety rating agencies and buyers, alike.

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.

Comparatively, the 2021 Toyota Highlander is seen as a more modern and inclusive SUV than the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas. It moves to incorporate a sustainable and value-driven hybrid powertrain, which is the first step this model makes toward appeasing a younger generation of consumers. It throws in a bevy of driver-assistive safety features across all models, which provides buyers with reassurance of the safety this model has naturally. Additionally, as new features are added in, the 2021 Toyota Highlander strives to maintain its affordability.

For these reasons, we enjoy the 2021 Toyota Highlander over the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas. Yet, the choice between these two well-equipped and admirable SUVs is ultimately up to you.

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