Pecheles Automotive Compares 2018 Volkswagen Atlas VS 2018 Ford Explorer Near New Bern, NC

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2018 Volkswagen Atlas

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2018 Volkswagen Atlas

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2018 Ford Explorer

Safety Comparison

The Atlas (except S) offers optional Autonomous Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Explorer offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

The Atlas has standard post collision braking, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Explorer doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Atlas SEL/SEL Premium has standard Maneuver Braking which use rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Explorer doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Atlas SEL Premium has a standard Overhead View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Explorer only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the Atlas and the Explorer have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Volkswagen Atlas is safer than the Explorer:




Overall Evaluation






Head Neck Evaluation



Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

13 cm

Chest Evaluation



Max Chest Compression

23 cm

23 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation



Femur Force R/L

3.1/0 kN

3.7/2.2 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L



Lower Leg Evaluation



Tibia index R/L



For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Atlas the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 136 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Explorer was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty Comparison

The Atlas comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck. The Explorer’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 3 years and 36,000 miles sooner.

The Atlas’ corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the Explorer’s (10 vs. 5 years).

Reliability Comparison

The Volkswagen Atlas’ engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Explorer’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2016 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 25th in reliability. With 35 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 31st.

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the Atlas gets better fuel mileage than the Explorer:







4 cyl./Auto

22 city/26 hwy

19 city/27 hwy




18 city/25 hwy

17 city/24 hwy




17 city/23 hwy

16 city/22 hwy


In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Atlas’ engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Explorer doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The Atlas’ drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Explorer doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Atlas’ wheelbase is 4.5 inches longer than on the Explorer (117.3 inches vs. 112.8 inches).

The Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion handles at .84 G’s, while the Explorer Sport 4WD pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Atlas’ turning circle is .8 feet tighter than the Explorer Base/XLT/Limited’s (38.1 feet vs. 38.9 feet). The Atlas’ turning circle is 1.9 feet tighter than the Explorer Sport’s (38.1 feet vs. 40 feet).

For greater off-road capability the Atlas has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Explorer (8 vs. 7.8 inches), allowing the Atlas to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis Comparison

As tested by Car and Driver while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion is quieter than the Explorer Sport 4WD (68 vs. 70 dB).

Passenger Space Comparison

The Atlas has 2.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Explorer (153.7 vs. 151.5).

The Atlas has .9 inches more front hip room, 1.2 inches more rear hip room, .5 inches more third row headroom, .4 inches more third row legroom, 4.4 inches more third row hip room and 4.1 inches more third row shoulder room than the Explorer.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The Atlas’ cargo area provides more volume than the Explorer.




Third Seat Folded

55.5 cubic feet

43.9 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

96.8 cubic feet

81.7 cubic feet

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Atlas easier. The Atlas’ cargo hatch lift-over height is 29.7 inches, while the Explorer’s liftover is 31.1 inches.

The Atlas’ cargo area is larger than the Explorer’s in almost every dimension:




Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)



Max Width



Min Width






Ergonomics Comparison

The Atlas’ front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Explorer’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. The driver of the Explorer can only close the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Atlas has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Explorer doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Explorer doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Atlas offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Explorer doesn’t offer cornering lights.

When the Atlas SEL/SEL Premium is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Explorer’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

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