2022 Volkswagen Atlas vs Audi Q7
When it comes to larger SUVs, you might find yourself inundated with different options for what you can buy. Should you stick with a five-seater or go for a third-row configuration? Might a luxury vehicle equip more of the features you want, or will a non-luxury brand give you everything you want and need? Trying to figure this out can indeed prove to be quite a challenge, but it does not have to be.
Two SUVs that get brought up a lot in various reviews are the Volkswagen Atlas and the Audi Q7. Don't get me wrong, these are two totally different vehicles, but they do have some similarities that make them worthy of a close comparison.
As a a midsize three-row crossover SUV, the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas is the largest SUV in VW's taut line-up. Built right in the midst of beautiful Tennessee, the Atlas offers a nice road feel, plenty of comfort, a spacious interior design, and a plethora of user-friendly technological features. For this model year, the former base S trim level is no longer available, but you still have plenty to choose from: the SE, SE with Technology, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL R-Line Black, and SEL Premium R-Line. And, with these trim level choices, you get a few powertrain options.
Similarly, the 2022 Audi Q7 is a third-row SUV with a couple of powertrains to choose from. But its trim level list is only composed of three trims: the Premium, Premium Plus, and the Prestige. So, you can probably more quickly make a choice between them, but you do not get as much leeway or versatility in terms of equipment and price. In fact, the luxury-oriented Q7 is priced well above the non-luxury Atlas, which will also be something to consider.
Let's take a closer look at what sets the Atlas and Q7 apart and which of these two third-row SUVs might be the best fit for you this year.
A good powertrain can make your driving experience delightful for years on end. On the flip side, a crummy powertrain will have you wondering why you decided to settle for that vehicle. And, as is especially the case with large SUVs, finding an engine that can haul all that bulk around is essential, as is the power delivery via the transmission to the wheels.
The 2022 Volkswagen Atlas is powered by a standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates a power output of 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. This is what you get on the SE, SE with Technology and SEL trims. A beefier 3.6-liter V6 engine (which puts forth 276 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque) is equipped on the SE with Technology and every single SEL variant. The SE and SE with Technology have standard front-wheel drive (FWD), while all-wheel drive (AWD) is an option. AWD is standard on all of the SEL versions.
Unfortunately, neither of the Atlas' engines are all that stellar. The V6 engine creates reasonable acceleration right off the line but runs out of steam when you go to merge onto the highway, even when the cabin is completely devoid of passengers. The V6-equipped Atlas needs 8.5 seconds to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour, which is slower than most other vehicles in this segment. What's odd is that the base four-cylinder engine accelerates more quickly, cruising from 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds.
Other than the engines not stacking up, the Atlas is easy to maneuver even with its massive bulk. The Atlas remains planted when rounding through all kinds of turns, and the brakes and transmission shifts are smooth enough to make this an enjoyable daily driver, especially if you plan on doing a lot of slower city driving.
Fuel economy could stand to be better from both engines. With AWD equipped, the V6 is EPA rated for 22 miles per gallon in combined driving. Real-world tests show that the AWD-equipped Atlas can get about 23.5 mpg combined, which shows that the EPA estimates hold up. But, of course, this also means that the Atlas still trails its competitors.
The 2022 Audi Q7 has two powertrain options to choose from: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder capable of generating 248 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque in the 45 TFSI models or a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that makes 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque that comes matched up to a 48-volt mild hybrid system and is found in 55 TFSI trims. A eight-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board. All-wheel drive is also standard for all Q7 models.
For not being a performance vehicle, the Q7's ability to get from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds makes it pretty snappy. Acceleration is smooth right off the line, and power builds naturally, and the braking is smooth and efficient too. You won't feel a whole lot in the way of body roll either. With 20 mpg in combined driving, this is actually about 1 mpg better than the Q7's competitors. Real-world tests do reflect that the EPA estimates hold up.
What makes a vehicle a pleasure to drive - or a pain for that matter? Drivability is an umbrella term that we use to talk about various factors that influence a vehicle's overall performance as a daily driver. What is a vehicle like to live with? How comfortable is it? Is the interior spacious enough? Are the tech features functional? Is there enough cargo space? These are just some of the things that need to be considered while deciding which vehicle you want to buy.
The 2022 Volkswagen Atlas is a little hit-and-miss when it comes to the seats. Its front seats are not all that adjustable. Shorter drivers might find that the bottom cushions are too long and flat. Each of the back rows is able to recline, and the second row slides. It also has a middle seat that is slightly firmer than the other two.
The Atlas' ride quality oozes comfort though. The suspension balances shock absorption with planted-ness, never coming off as being too floaty. Sure, you will hear some road noise (which is compounded by the huge side mirrors generating some wind noise at highway speeds), but you just have to turn the volume up a few notches on the sound system to hide it. The Atlas' climate system delivers strong heating or cooling throughout the entire cabin, so everyone should feel cozy.
Inside of the Atlas, there is ample space up front, and the second row is wide enough to seat three full-grown adults side by side. The third row can even fit adults 6' or shorter with relatively little impact on its comfort level. Of course, the sliding second-row seat comes in handy, plus you get a good amount of outward visibility thanks to the slender roof pillars.
The optional digital gauge cluster takes some time to figure out. Once you get used to it, you will likely enjoy how functional it can be. However, the vehicle's touchscreen infotainment system interface forces you to look at it to use it while you drive, which can become a distraction, taking your eyes off the road.
That being said, tech isn't a loss on the Atlas. In fact, its offerings are pretty robust. Along with the infotainment system you get smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The standard stereo system has a nice enough audio quality, but the optional 12-speaker system is downright impressive in terms of quality and bass. Voice control is restricted to some fairly generic commands but is more functional than it was on the previous Atlas generation.
For a mid-size third-row SUV, the Atlas has cargo volume in droves. There are 20.6 cubic feet of space behind the third row of seats, but this maxes out to 96.8 cubic feet when you fold both back rows down. The manually folding seats offer a lot of flexibility for an added bonus. There aren't an abundance of small item storage areas, but what you do get is sizable enough for stashing your valuables.
So, how does the 2022 Audi Q7 compare? There isn't much wind or road noise that makes its way into the cabin, and the optional four-zone climate control system is able to disperse air flow evenly throughout the cabin. While the heating and cooling on the seats aren't particularly powerful, they do work alright. The front seats aren't exactly highly adjustable, but they do offer day-long comfort. Opting for the air suspension makes the ride feel busier than you might like.
Audi's two-touchscreen infotainment interface might be a bit befuddling for those who are not all that tech-savvy. The system is overly busy with things you have to do, and the menus have a complex structure. The first and second rows of seats are spacious enough, but getting into the third row can be somewhat tricky since the passageway is narrow.
Save for the dual touchscreen's tricky nature, the interface responds to your inputs and has crisp graphics. The navigation system comes with a handwriting feature that makes it so you don't have to hunt for each individual letter. It can even read less-than-perfect handwriting. You can get four USB ports throughout the cabin, a 12-volt outlet, and a wireless charging pad. Wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto are standard, but the wireless CarPlay has some glitches. Voice controls are fairly average.
Behind the third row of seats, the Q7 offers 14.2 cubic feet. This can be maxed out to 69.6 cubic feet when you fold both back rows of seats down. This is fairly average, but the optional air suspension can help raise or lower the ride height to make loading and unloading cargo easier. There are also some pretty big door pockets for stashing your stuff. Parents, take note: you do get three sets of child safety seat anchors throughout the second row and two in the third row, which is a rarity in this segment.
Safety is quite obviously a major component on any vehicle, and you should be aware of what comes on any vehicle you decide to buy. Volkswagen gives the Atlas standard frontal collision mitigation, rear cross-traffic alert, and a blind spot monitoring system. You can upgrade to the SE with Technology to get front and rear parking sensors and adaptive cruise control. Blind spot intervention, adaptive headlights, and a lane keeping system get added to the SEL. The line-topping SEL Premium R-Line tacks on a surround-view camera system and automated parking system.
On the 2022 Audi Q7, you get frontal collision mitigation, parking sensors for the front and rear a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, and a lane departure warning. The Convenience package nabs you a surround-view camera system, which is standard on the Premium Plus - a trim level that adds lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control. On the line-topping Prestige, you get a helpful head-up display.
Which Has the Best Value?
How much bang can you get for your buck? On the Atlas, you get some. Sure, it is a bit more expensive than its direct competitors, but you get a lot of safety and tech features and an easy to use layout. However, the hard plastics and lack of horsepower on either of the engine options is what really lets buyers down. Warranty coverage is merely average, falling well behind leaders like Kia and Hyundai.
When it comes to the Q7, you do get a good amount of value for it being a luxury SUV. On the lower end of the spectrum, you can spend about $60K and get a decent base trim. But if you go for the Prestige, prepare to pay a lot more than you might like. You do get the classy Audi interior design, but warranty coverage is completely average for this segment.
Which is Better?
When it comes to the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas and the 2022 Audi Q7, you really have to understand that these are two different vehicle classes. The former is not a luxury vehicle while the latter absolutely is. Sure, they have some of the same features, but the Q7 clearly makes more things standard and utilizes a lot of upscale materials in its design. If that is what matters most to you, then the Q7 will be a more pleasant experience. You definitely get what you pay for on this vehicle.
However, while the Atlas could do with some stronger powertrain options, it is otherwise a decent vehicle. It isn't meant to be a luxury SUV, so that sets it apart from the Q7. But, for a non-luxury vehicle, it is a decent performer with an abundance of space all throughout.