Goldmine Hill Mall-Crawler Meyhem: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas vs 2017 Nissan Pathfinder [Video]

2017 Nissan Pathfinder 2018 VW Atlas
AWD and adequate ground clearance? TFL will take it off-roading. [photo: TFL]
Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we film videos like the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas vs 2017 Nissan Pathfinder – which is truly apples to apples. Both of these vehicles compete for the same type of consumer and for the same demographic. Both vehicles compete against the best sellers like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango – to name a few. They are both family haulers, they are utilitarian and they both have V6 engines.

After that, things look different between these two vehicles.

The Volkswagen Atlas looks and feels much wider than the Nissan Pathfinder. It has three rows of seats that can hold seven adults fairly comfortably and it has eight inches of ground clearance. The Nissan Pathfinder feels more car-like with lower ground clearance (7-inches) and a slightly smaller interior. It can hold five adults and two children comfortably.

The biggest difference between the two is how they put power down and how their off-road systems work.

The Volkswagen Atlas: “A Driving Mode Selection feature, equipped on all Atlas models with 4Motion all-wheel drive, enables the driver to select specific vehicle profiles based on driving conditions. It has four settings: Onroad, Snow, Offroad, and Custom Offroad. Within the “Onroad” setting, additional options are offered: Normal, Sport, Comfort and Individual. These alter operating parameters for drive systems like the engine, transmission, steering and Adaptive Cruise Control, as well as traction-assistance systems such as Hill Descent Assist and Hill Start Assist. The singular user interface is highly intuitive, utilizing both a rotary knob and a push-button. Turning the knob engages the various drive modes, while pushing the button triggers a pop-up menu on the screen of the infotainment system, allowing the driver to fine tune the Onroad mode.” –

They may not be purpose-built off-roader, but the Pathfinder and Atlas will do more than you think they would. [photo: TFL]

The Nissan Pathfinder: The All-Mode 4×4-i four-wheel drive system allows you to switch from fuel-efficient 2WD to Auto mode, which will send power to the rear is slippage is detected. The final mode is 4WD Lock mode, which will keep power heading to the rear wheels at all times.

“No other SUV * in this class gives you the choice of 2WD, 4WD, and Auto Modes. Turn the available All-Mode® 4×4-i dial, located just behind the gearshift, to lock into 4WD on rough terrain and in varying weather. Turn it again to switch into 2WD for better mileage. The intuitive Auto Mode senses slippery roads or rough terrain and automatically adjusts power to each wheel. When things smooth out, it switches back to 2WD.” –

In this video, we take both vehicles up Goldmine Hill.

Only one makes it all the way.