Comparison
Comparison

2021 Honda Pilot vs. 2021 Volkswagen Atlas

2021 Honda Pilot vs Volkswagen Atlas

With so many models on the market, ranking and choosing the best three-row SUVs doesn’t come easy. Critics and shoppers must take into consideration myriad criteria: cubic feet, inches, horsepower, miles per gallon—and these are just the numbers on the spec sheet.

To help you make the right decision, we pitted the beloved 2021 Honda Passport against the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas. Now, let’s see which one ends up earning its stripes.

Space & Interior

Seating

Honda, party of eight. In all but the range-topping Pilot Elite model, you get 8 glorious seats for you and 7 of your glorious passengers. That means more family, more friends, and more fun than the 7-seat VW Atlas offers.

Best of all, only the Honda Pilot comes with a convenient one-touch 2nd-row seat. To enter or exit the rear row, simply press a button on the middle seats and your access is granted. With the Volkswagen Atlas, riders must fight their way in and out of the back.

2021 Pilot 2021 Atlas
Available Seating 7-8 7
Space and Interior

Passenger Comfort

Numbers tell a story—not the whole story, but enough of one—and it’s safe to say that Honda Pilot’s numbers spin a heroic tale of victory. That’s because the specs show that Pilot is, pun intended, head-and-shoulders more comfortable for riders in the third-row. Due to the Pilot’s wider stance, it offers riders more room for shoulders and heads in the very back, as well as more 2nd-row legroom.

2021 Pilot LX 2021 Atlas S
Shoulder Room (3rd Row) 57.6 in 54.9 in
Shoulder Room (2nd Row) 62.0 in 60.2 in
Shoulder Room (1st Row) 62.0 in 61.5 in
Headroom (3rd Row) 38.9 in 38.3 in
Legroom (2nd Row) 38.4 in 37.6 in

Cargo Volume

There’s no denying it: Volkswagen Atlas is one of the largest full-size SUVs in its class. It offers 55.5 cubic feet of cargo volume to the second row, which expands to 96.8 cubic feet with the mid-row seats folded down. That’s more storage space than rivals like the Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Palisade, and Subaru Ascent—but Honda Pilot beats it on the spec sheet.

The 2021 Honda Pilot provides ample room for all your gear. In the very back, you get 18.5 cubic feet of space. Fold the rear seats down for 55.9 cubic feet, 0.4 cubes more than the Atlas. With the middle seats flat, Pilot becomes a 109.2-cubic-foot pasture in which your bags can roam free.

2021 Pilot EX-L 2021 Atlas SEL
Cargo Room (2nd Row) 55.9 cu. ft.* 55.5 cu. ft.
Cargo Room (Maximum) 109.2 cu. ft.* 96.8 cu. ft.
Cargo Volume

CabinTalk

Parents needn’t shout and battle with laryngitis inside the Honda Pilot. That’s because, unlike the VW Atlas, Pilot comes with an available CabinTalk feature, which acts like an in-vehicle PA system. Front-row occupants can simply tap a button on Pilot’s touchscreen to activate CabinTalk, then broadcast their voice throughout the cabin or through any headphones that are plugged into the SUV’s Rear Entertainment System.

CabinTalk

Rear Entertainment System

Honda Pilot’s Advanced Rear Entertainment System is yet another feature that Atlas doesn’t offer. Every Pilot Touring and Elite comes standard with RES, which includes a 10.2-inch hi-res screen, built-in streaming apps and games, Blu-Ray™ and DVD player, and HDMI connections.

Rear Entertainment System

Safety

Adaptive Cruise Control

Every Honda Pilot, starting with the base Pilot LX, comes standard with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). To get a comparable safety feature in the Atlas, you’d have to pay up for the optional Atlas SE Tech package.

Automatic High-Beams

Another Pilot standard feature are Honda’s Auto High-Beam Headlights, which automatically toggle on when there are no other vehicles on the road and toggle off when a car is detected. Volkswagen’s High Beam Control (Light Assist) feature is only standard on the Atlas SEL models and up.

Lane Keeping Assist & Road Departure Mitigation

The base VW Atlas S comes with forward collision warning, pedestrian monitoring, blind-spot monitoring, and rear traffic alert. It’s a pedestrian showing for an SUV priced over $30,000.

The Honda Pilot, on the other hand, comes well-equipped with the full Honda Sensing safety suite. This includes exclusive features that aren’t found in the Atlas, like Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning, and Honda’s patented Road Departure Mitigation System. These excellent driver-assist features are but one reason why the previous Pilot model was an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Honda Sensing

Performance

Engine

You get your pick between two VW Atlas engines: a standard 2.0L 235-hp 4-cylinder that makes 258 lb-ft of torque or an available 3.6L V6 that makes 276 horsepower. Both are fine when compared to air, but set up side by side with the Pilot, and the differences are quite apparent.

With great power comes great capability. All Honda Pilot trims come equipped with a 3.5L V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s more horsepower than either Atlas powerplant and more torque than the Subaru SUV’s base 2.0-liter.

2021 Pilot 3.5L V6 2021 Atlas 2.0L 4-Cyl 2021 Atlas 3.6L V6
Horsepower 280 235 276

Fuel Economy

You get your pick between two VW Atlas engines: a standard 2.0L 235-hp 4-cylinder that makes 258 lb-ft of torque or an available 3.6L V6 that makes 276 horsepower. Both are fine when compared to air, but set up side by side with the Pilot, and the differences are quite apparent.

With great power comes great capability. All Honda Pilot trims come equipped with a 3.5L V6 that makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s more horsepower than either Atlas powerplant and more torque than the Subaru SUV’s base 2.0-liter.

2021 Pilot 2WD 2021 Pilot AWD 2021 Atlas S
Highway MPG 27* 26* 24

Disclaimers:

Cargo volume based on SAE J1100 cargo volume measurement standard plus, where applicable, floor space between seating rows and seats in their forward-most and upright position.

20 city/27 highway/23 combined mpg rating for 2WD trims. 19 city/26 highway/22 combined mpg rating for AWD trims. Based on 2021 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions and other factors.