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If you’re in the market for a new SUV, don’t overlook Volkswagen's current lineup. The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas ranks among the top large crossovers on the market. Families will enjoy its supreme comfort and recently updated styling. For car shoppers that need a smaller and more affordable model, VW offers the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan. In this head-to-head comparison, we’ll examine each vehicle’s key attributes.
Size and Styling
The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is a bigger, heavier SUV. It’s more than 15 inches longer than the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan. Car shoppers will also notice that the Atlas is a few inches taller. While the Atlas weighs around 4,400 pounds, the Tiguan checks in at 3,750 pounds.
Because of the Tiguan’s smaller size, it’s a better option for city dwellers. Drivers will have a more difficult time fitting the Atlas into tight spaces. The Atlas will also take up more room in the garage.
For 2021, the Atlas receives a styling refresh. Its front fascia now looks a bit bolder, which features new headlights and a wider grille. Updated rear-end styling also helps the Atlas to stand out more. Drivers seeking a sportier look will be interested in the Atlas R-line trims. They feature black alloy wheels and racier exterior treatments.
Although the Tiguan doesn’t look as bold as the new Atlas, its upper trim levels will turn some heads. This is especially true for the more aggressive Tiguan R-Line models. All trims feature a sophisticated set of LED taillights on the rear. LED headlights with cool LED running lights are available as well.
While the standard Tiguan seats up to five people, a third row is on the SUV’s list of options. This is a plus for drivers who need to accommodate a couple more children. Meanwhile, all versions of the Atlas provide three rows of seats.
Despite being smaller than the Atlas, the Tiguan still proves to be a great choice for families. When its second-row seats are slid back, passengers will have 38.7 inches of legroom. By comparison, people sitting in the second row of the Atlas will have 37.6 inches of legroom. In regard to third-row legroom, Atlas occupants will have an adiditonal 5.8 inches of legroom. This means even adults can comfortably fit in the back of the Atlas.
The larger Atlas provides a decent 20.6 feet of cargo space in the rear. However, folding its rear seat increases storage room to a whopping 55.5 cubic feet. Meanwhile, there’s a generous 37.6 cubic feet of luggage space behind the Tiguan’s second row. At the end of the day, both SUVs can carry a lot of extra stuff.
According to most car reviewers, the Tiguan provides very good outward visibility. Drivers will have clear sight lines. Relatively tall side windows help reduce rear blind spots. A car-like dash and wide windshield also enable the Atlas to provide great forward visibility. The view out of the SUV’s rear glass is fairly good.
The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas has two available engines. Most buyers choose the base turbo four-cylinder engine, which returns the best fuel economy. VW rates this engine to crank out 235 horsepower and a useful 258 lb-ft of torque. A brawny V6 engine with 276 horsepower is optional. All trims feature an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
There’s only one powertrain available for the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan. Its turbo four-cylinder engine pushes out 184 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. This engine’s low-end torque makes the Tiguan feel quite responsive. Like the larger Atlas, the Tiguan feeds power to the wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
When equipped with its base powertrain, the Atlas clocks a 0-60 mph time of roughly 7.3 seconds. Most drivers will be pleased with the SUV’s acceleration. While performance doesn’t increase with the optional V6 engine, drivers will benefit from the extra muscle when towing. Both engines provide good passing power.
Don’t expect the Tiguan to feel as muscular. This SUV is not built to offer rapid acceleration. It posted a 0-60 mph time of 8.8 seconds. While the Tiguan packs enough performance for daily commuting, many of today’s competitors are quicker.
Unsurprisingly, the lighter and less powerful Tiguan returns the best fuel economy. According to the EPA’s calculations, it will deliver up to 23 mpg town/27 mpg freeway. AWD-equipped trims return 21 mpg town/27 mpg freeway. Regular unleaded gasoline is the suggested fuel type.
Fuel economy ratings for the full-size Atlas are lower. Owners can anticipating getting up to 21 mpg town/24 mpg freeway. Meanwhile, the V6-powered Atlas delivers up to 17 mpg town/23 mpg freeway. Luckily, premium gasoline is not needed for optimum performance.
Drivers who need a vehicle that can tow will want the Atlas. VW lists the SUV with a 5,000-pound towing capacity. A towing package, which includes a trailer hitch and upgraded alternator, is optional on the Atlas. Rated to tow only 1,500 pounds, the Tiguan is not able to haul a lot of weight.
On the road, the Volkswagen Tiguan impresses with its silky smooth driving dynamics. Test drivers praise the Tiguan for its superior steering feel and predictable handling. A tighter turning radius also makes this crossover easier to maneuver in confined areas.
Despite being a heavier vehicle, the Atlas also handles well. It remains stable when taking curves. On the downside, parking the Atlas will be more of a challenge. This is especially true for city dwellers.
Both vehicles offer a good ride. Their European-tuned suspensions enable you to enjoy good body control without giving up any comfort. With that said, the Tiguan’s highway ride is just a bit firmer. In terms of interior quietness, these crossover SUVs are evenly matched. Next to no road noise is heard on most surfaces. Wind noise is also kept at bay.
Regardless of which one of these SUVs a person chooses, they will have access to VW’s excellent 4MOTION AWD system. Snow and off-road driving modes are included. Although these SUVs are not engineered for the roughest of terrain, you can confidently take them down a muddy dirt trail. Both offer around 8.0 inches of ground clearance.
From a standpoint of reliability, the Tiguan receives an above-average rating. Meanwhile, expect the Atlas to offer average long-term reliability. VW covers both of these models with a 50,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Comfort, Options, and Performance
The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas stands among the most comfy SUVs in its class. Its seats are supportive and cushy. This is a fine vehicle for traveling. These same attributes are shared with the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan.
Automotive journalists praise the Atlas for its impressive interior quality. It feels like a luxury vehicle. While cloth upholstery comes standard, buyers can upgrade to either VW’s V-Tex material or leather. Despite being thousands of dollars less expensive, the Tiguan doesn’t sacrifice much quality. Every aspect of its cabin is well-built.
When checking out the new Tiguan, potential buyers will have access to some nice creature comforts. Dual-zone temperature control and front-seat heating are offered on the higher trim levels. A panoramic sunroof is also on the Tiguan’s list of options. Remember, ventilated front seats and heated second-row seats are only offered on the Atlas.
The Tiguan boasts modern in-vehicle technology. A 6.5-inch touch display comes standard. Drivers will be able to quickly link their smartphone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Buyers can upgrade to a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen with GPS navigation. Another highly recommended upgrade is VW’s Digital Cockpit gauge cluster, which can display colorful road maps. Other notable options consists of a wireless smartphone charger, a Fender premium sound system, and a motion-activated liftgate. In regard to technology, the Atlas offers a similar list of features.
With a starting MSRP of $25,245, the Tiguan will better satisfy drivers who are on a budget. Prices for the new Atlas start at a steeper $31,545. Drivers who want the range-topping Tiguan SEL Premium R-Line 4Motion can expect to shell a tad more than $39,000. Meanwhile, VW lists the top-of-the-line Atlas with an MSRP of over $50,000.
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NHTSA crash scores are not available for the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan. However, this crossover was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick. It received good marks in every impact test. While the Tiguan’s standard headlights performed poorly, the available adaptive LED headlights provide better visibility at night.
The NHTSA gives the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas a five-star overall safety rating. Although the Atlas was not chosen as an IIHS Top Safety Pick, it did receive good crash scores.
These SUVs are equipped with virtually the same safety technologies. Blind-spot warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection come standard. Options include smart cruise control, parking sensors, and lane-keep assist. Drivers can also replace the standard backup camera with a surround-view camera system.
Only the Atlas offers hands-free parallel park assist. This system helps make the big crossover easier to manage in tight spots. It’s an especially great option for drivers who live in urban areas.
Which Model to Choose?
Which model should you choose? Both of these crossover SUVs deserve some serious consideration. However, there are pros and cons to each vehicle.
The Tiguan is a less expensive option. It costs thousands of dollars less than the Atlas. Keep in mind that these SUVs have a similar list of standard feature.
When it comes to overall performance, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas edges out the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan. It offers quicker acceleration and packs more muscle for towing. On the other hand, drivers seeking the best fuel economy will lean more towards the Tiguan. Both SUVs offer good ride comfort on the open highway.
In terms of off-road prowess, neither vehicle has a distinct advantage over the other. While owners shouldn’t attempt to tackle hardcore terrain, they will have no issues taking these SUVs on most camping expeditions. VW’s 4MOTION AWD system does a great job of enhancing grip in the mud and snow.
A roomier third row makes the Atlas a better fit for large families. With that said, the Tiguan will comfortably accommodate a family of five. There’s also ample cargo space inside the Tiguan. However, ventilated front seats and heated second-row seats are exclusively offered on the Atlas. Like the Atlas, the Tiguan provides a competitive number of standard features.
Some people will like the Tiguan’s refined styling. However, only the Atlas receives an updated exterior for 2021. It now looks a bit more striking than before.
When choosing between these SUVs, buyers simply need to pick the one that works best for their lifestyle. The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is recommended for drivers who need an accommodating third row and enhanced towing capabilities. On the other hand, there are many people who will prefer the Tiguan’s lower MSRP.