2022 Volkswagen Atlas vs Kia Telluride
When you are in the market for a spacious mid-size third-row SUV, you might be shocked by just how many of those vehicles are on the market right now. In this highly competitive segment, third-row SUVs seem to always be trying to best one another when it comes to things like space in the back two rows, powerful engines, and standard technological features and driver aids. The 2022 Volkswagen Atlas and 2022 Kia Telluride are two such rivals that butt heads quite a bit, and boy, do they compete well.
The 2022 VW Atlas offers its owners a spaciously designed cabin with more than enough room in all three rows - something that other third-row SUVs struggle to do. The Atlas is also thoughtfully laid out in terms of its controls, making everything easy to understand and access. Its daily comfort is expertly blended with the handling's utter precision.
On the downside, though, the Atlas has several engine options, and none of them are all that awe-inspiring. Even the optional V6 engine has a sluggish acceleration to it. Also, you won't get a good fuel economy on even the base engine, so prepare to pay more at the pump, which, given the rising cost of fuel, might not be something you want to deal with right now.
Meanwhile, the 2022 Kia Telluride shows up with some serious style. Inside and out, the Telluride looks chic and almost as if it could fit into the luxury segment, especially once you reach the highest trim levels. Big families can enjoy the amount of space that is available in all three rows, and there is a huge list of standard features that add to the vehicle's overall value (which is aided by exceedingly generous warranty coverage).
The one pitfall of owning the Telluride is that there are not too many storage areas inside of the cabin for your small, valuable items. Other vehicles in this segment offer more of these small item storage areas.
Which of these two mid-size third-row SUVs is best able to meet your family's unique needs? Does one pack in more overall value than the other? Which vehicle has more power and better features? Read through this comparison review to find out.
When you break it down to power output, a good powertrain can make the ownership experience a fantastic one. You won't be sweating it over how to merge onto or pass another vehicle on the highway. But - especially on a large third-row SUV like these two - an under-powered engine or sluggish transmission can leave you feeling like you're just getting left in the dust. And, really, who wants that type of frustration after spending thousands of dollars on a new vehicle?
The 2022 VW Atlas is powered by a standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine on the SE, SE with Technology and SEL trim levels. It is able to generate a power output of 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The SE with Technology and all the SEL variants come with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that is good for 276 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard while all-wheel drive (AWD) is an option with the base engine. The SEL and above have AWD as standard issue.
Even on the optional V6, you won't feel like the Atlas is getting enough get-up-and-go power. It can accelerate just fine on the V6 but quickly runs out of steam at higher rates of speed. It does take the Atlas 8.5 seconds to get from 0 to 60 miles per hour, which is somewhat slow for a mid-size third-row SUV. The base engine is actually a little quicker, coming in at about 8.1 seconds, which is something of a surprise since it has a lot smaller of a power output. At least this vehicle remains planted while rounding through turns and offers smooth brake modulations and shifting between gears on the transmission.
Fuel economy could be much better. On the V6 with AWD, the EPA estimate for combined city and highway driving is 22 miles per gallon. This seems to be accurate as real-world tests put combined mpg at about 23.5. This isn't bad, but it trails behind what you get on rivals like the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot.
Meanwhile, the 2022 Kia Telluride receives its power from a standard 3.8-liter V6 that is good for 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. This sole engine option is matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Although AWD is optional on any of the Telluride's four trim levels (the LX, S, EX, and SX), front-wheel drive is standard issue.
The Telluride is able to zip from 0 to 60 mph in just 7.5 seconds, taking an entire second off of the V6 Atlas's time. This puts it on par with the likes of the Honda Pilot and Hyundai Palisade, and its grounded handling keeps it feeling nice and secure. The brakes are easy to modulate and can bring the Telluride to a firm stop in almost no time at all. The engine start-stop feature works seamlessly and does seem to help conserve a little bit of fuel.
Unfortunately, the EPA estimates put the Telluride below industry average for fuel efficiency. The AWD Telluride is supposed to get just 21 mpg combined. However, real-world tests show that this Telluride can get about 23 mpg combined. And - of course - the FWD models fare slightly better. Also, you don't need to use premium fuel for the Telluride; regular works just fine.
Drivability is a bit of an umbrella term that we use to talk about how well a vehicle functions as a daily driver. How comfortable is a particular vehicle to ride around in? Is the ride quality smooth or a little too bumpy? Are the interior materials high enough quality, or is there too many hard plastic adorning the cabin? Is everything inside the cabin logically set up and within the driver's reach? Are the tech features functional and helpful? How much cargo space will you get, and how easy is it to take down both rows of rear seats in a third-row SUV? These are some of the biggest factors we consider when we discuss a vehicle's drivability.
When it comes to comfort, the 2022 VW Atlas does well enough. The front seats are lacking in some supportive structuring on the bottoms and do not offer as much adjustability as they could. The back two rows are able to recline, and the second row has a sliding function. Unfortunately, its middle seat is pretty firm. Its ride quality is smooth enough with barely any bumps making their way into the cabin from the surface of the road. The large side mirrors do generate a fair bit of wind noise while cruising along at higher speeds, but at least the speakers from the sound system can easily conceal it. Also, you will get some strong heating and cooling capabilities from the Atlas's climate control system.
The Atlas's interior is indeed spacious in all three rows. Even those who are over 6 feet tall can easily fit into the third row, which is remarkable for a mid-size third-row SUV - most of them feel way more cramped than this. Kids won't be fighting for space in the back since there isn't really a bad seat in the house. The sliding second row really helps with creating space as needed. You even get a good bit of rear visibility, which, again, is something uncharacteristic of vehicles in this segment. The available digital gauge cluster takes some getting used to, but once you do, you will likely appreciate how much info it is able to provide. The touchscreen infotainment system is really the only downside, as it requires you to look at it to use it, rendering it a distraction while driving.
That being said, the Atlas's technology is extensive and functional. Smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard, as is WIFI hot-spot connectivity and a six-speaker sound system. The SE with technology gives you USB ports for both the second and third rows, which means no one needs to fight over a charging port. This trim also has wireless smartphone app integration, a wireless charging pad, and voice controls. If you want integrated navigation, the SEL trim has it as standard. An absolutely impressive 12-speaker Fender premium audio system is equipped on the line-topping SEL Premium R-Line trim level. The sound quality is produces is nothing short of crisp and clear - no distortion to be heard.
This third-row SUV gives you 20.6 cubic feet of space behind the third row and a maximum capacity of 96.8 cubic feet, which is a segment-leading amount. The manually folding seats go completely flat and add a lot of versatility. There aren't a whole lot of cubby areas for things like sunglasses, but you get a decent smattering of storage spaces for bigger items. The LATCH system for child safety seats has easy-to-access anchors, and you can certainly fit a rear-facing car seat in the second row given how much space is available there.
The 2022 Kia Telluride strives hard to be a top competitor in the third-row SUV segment. The Telluride offers comfort in droves. The headrests feel more like pillows, and the seats are sculpted with plenty of support. Even on the highway, the cabin remains muted from exterior noise. Uneven road surfaces can result in a few bumps getting into the cabin, but the ride quality is smooth for the most part. Climate control is user-friendly and works well for all three rows. Heating and ventilation on the seats aren't super strong, but they are available for the first two rows - a rarity outside of the luxury segment.
Space is abundant in all three rows, and the massive windows help create that sense of space. Knee room is slightly tight in the first row but is nothing worth complaining about. Controls are all grouped together by function and are easy to figure out. The one drawback is that you will have to reach forward to access the infotainment touchscreen display. The available cameras and parking sensors help give you a clear view around the vehicle, but you can see well enough with the naked eye.
The Telluride is outfitted with Kia's latest technology. There are plenty of USB ports situated throughout the cabin, and smartphone app integration is standard. The optional 10-speaker sound system produces clear audio quality, and the available wider infotainment screen gives you some sharp graphics.
As far as cargo space goes, the Telluride offers you 21 cubic feet behind the third row and 87 cubes when you fold both rows down. The underfloor compartment gives you more versatility, and the hatch opens nice and wide. There aren't a lot of small item storage areas available, but you can easily use the LATCH system for child car seats.
Safety is a major concern for most drivers, especially those with small children in tow. Auto makers are certainly aware of the high demand for advanced safety features and designs and do what they can to meet this demand.
Volkswagen outfits the 2022 Atlas with a bundle of standard driver aids geared toward keeping you safe on the road. This bundle includes a blind spot monitor, forward collision mitigation, and a rear cross-traffic alert. Upgrading to the SE with Technology adds on parking sensors for the front and rear as well as adaptive cruise control. Blind spot intervention, lane keep assist, and adaptive headlights come starting on the SEL. Meanwhile, the SEL Premium R-Line tacks on a 360-degree surround-view camera system and automated parking. Everything seems to work as expected, and the rear-view camera alone gives you a sharp view of what is behind the Atlas.
Similarly, Kia equips the 2022 Telluride with a suite of driver aids. This gives the base trim lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and a blind-spot monitoring system with a rear cross-traffic alert. The line-topping SX adds on a surround-view camera system and blind-spot view monitor.
Which Has the Best Value?
Value is an overarching factor that buyers ought to consider before they make their final purchasing decision. Which third-row SUV will give them the most bang for their buck? Test-driving a vehicle will only tell you so much about how it operates. That's why you should always look into thigs like pricing, warranty coverage, and how owners are rating these vehicles in their online reviews.
Value is something that the 2022 VW Atlas packs in as best it can. Sure, it is a little bit pricier than the competition, but it packs a lot of standard features in. The included tech and driver aids are all easy to use and work as they're meant to. The engine is the only buzzkill here. You won't get as much power as you'd probably like, and both engines sip heavily on the fuel.
The 2022 Kia Telluride is dense with value. Of course, Kia's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is downright impressive. It lends a lot of value to the Telluride. And, with all of the features that get included, power output, and fuel economy, you do get a fair deal on the Telluride. In fact, it might be best-in-class as far as value goes.
Which is Better?
While the 2022 VW Atlas is a strong competitor in the mid-size third-row SUV segment, its powertrain options hold it back from greatness. You just don't get the best blend of power and efficiency. The 2022 Kia Telluride, however, delivers on all fronts. That is why we pick the Telluride over the Atlas for the best overall performance.