Volkswagen Atlas vs. Honda Pilot

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - July 18, 2017

One of the first crossovers to show that this segment could grow to handle large families while still delivering great ride quality and sedan-like driving characteristics was the Honda Pilot, which debuted in 2003. Now, two years after a full redesign, the Honda Pilot remains one of the best in its class.

Volkswagen hopes to knock Honda down a few pegs with its new-for-2018 Atlas, which is the brand’s first crack at a volume-focused, three-row crossover.

Does the newcomer from Germany have what it takes to overtake the popular Pilot? Read on to find out.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Pilot & Atlas »

What the Atlas Gets Right

The Atlas’ starting price of $31,425 (including $925 destination fee) makes it $260 cheaper than the base Pilot’s $31,685 price (including a $940 destination fee). While this doesn’t leave much room to add more features, it does leave a little cash in the buyer’s pocket.

While the third row is never the ideal spot to sit, the Atlas does offer a bit more leg room, at 33.7 inches to the Honda’s 31.9 inches. The Atlas is also one of the roomier three-row crossovers in terms of cargo space, hauling 20.6 cubic feet with all three rows up, 55.5 cubic feet with the third row folded, and a cavernous 96.8 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded. Respectively, the Pilot offers just 16.5 cubic feet, 46.8 cubic feet, and 83.9 cubic feet.

For buyers who like powertrain options, the Atlas is the better choice, as it not only offers a V6 engine, but its standard powerplant is a 235-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder from Volkswagen's popular 2.0-liter family. There are no EPA ratings on the four-pot yet, but logic says they should beat the Pilot’s respectable 20 miles per gallon city, 27 highway, and 23 combined.

What the Pilot Gets Right

The Pilot immediately pulls in buyers just with its name: Honda is legendary for quality, which is an important selling point for families.

Inside, the Pilot may lose the cargo and third-row-space race, but it takes out the Atlas in overall passenger capacity, thanks to its eight-person seating layout versus the Atlas’ seven seats, and its 38.4 inches of leg room in the second row to the Atlas’ 37.6 inches.

The Pilot also rides amazingly well. It feels like a comfortable sedan, even on the roughest of roads. On top of being comfortable, the Pilot’s cabin is perfectly laid out with plenty of standard features and lots of desirable options, including navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an available Blu-Ray entertainment package, and more.

Despite being more powerful than the Atlas V6 at 280 horsepower, the Pilot’s fuel economy tops out at 20 miles per gallon city, 27 highway, and 23 combined, easily bettering the Atlas’ 18 mpg city, 25 highway, and 20 combined.

Need Tons of Cargo Room? Go German!

The Atlas just can’t hang with the Pilot, thanks to the Honda’s great interior, unmatched ride in its class, powerful engine, good handling, and plentiful option list. But for those who need the extra cargo room, the Atlas is top dog.

Verdict: Honda Pilot

The Pilot is hard to match. The Atlas gives the Pilot a run for its money, but the Honda ultimately pulls away in the end.

Take a closer look at the Honda Pilot »

Take a closer look at the Volkswagen Atlas »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website