Volkswagen and Chevrolet go head to head in this XXL crossover mashup.
The three-row Chevrolet Traverse has been redesigned for 2018, featuring more power and technology than ever before. Volkswagen has launched the all-new Atlas specifically for the U.S., replacing the aging Touareg as their top crossover. Both cars feature fresh designs, similar drivetrains and are loaded with technology. But what are the differences between the two? Which one is better? In this TFLcar review, Nathan and Andre take the Traverse and Atlas on the road to find out.
On paper, there’s not too much to separate these two mid-size competitors. They’re both roughly the same size, both have three rows of seats, and both are priced about the same (if you take the AWD Premier Traverse). Even their popularity is almost equal, according to search trends on Google:
While both compete directly against each other and offer owners similar equipment, let’s focus on a few items that split these two family crossovers apart.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas: Squared-off Presence
If you’d like your three-row crossover to hark back to old-school SUVs on looks, you’ll like the Atlas. Volkswagen designed this car specifically for the American market, and they know we like square-jawed good looks in our family haulers. We want something that has presence – something that looks and feels big on the road. The Atlas certainly exudes some presence on the road.
And with a 276 horsepower 3.6-liter VR6 engine, it has enough grunt to match its blocky exterior build. At just over 4,500 pounds, the Atlas is a bit portlier than the new Traverse. It’s also down on power compared to the 3.6-liter engine you get in the Chevy (310 horsepower). As a result, it doesn’t match the Chevy tit-for-tat in terms of performance. However, some buyers may be swayed by how the VW’s interior feels as well as its looks.
For a better sense of how the Atlas stacks up, check out Roman’s trip to Yellowstone in the Atlas (and it’s smaller cousin, the redesigned Tiguan).
2018 Chevrolet Traverse: Second-generation Family Hauler
While the Atlas is all-new to America’s crossover-loving market, the Traverse is now in its second generation. A new, crisp exterior design, new technology, and a new heart bring the Traverse bang up to date for waging battle in the crossover wars. If the Atlas is about rugged good looks and more truck-like boldness, Chevy’s newest family hauler is about comfort and space.
The new Chevrolet Traverse does have more usable interior space than the Atlas, although they’re roughly the same size. Third row leg room and head room swing in the Traverse’s favor. The seats are also more comfortable, and fuel economy (at least in the FWD models) is a bit better than the Atlas. The 3.6-liter engine in the Traverse also makes 310 horsepower – 34 more than the Atlas. Torque for both cars is identical, at 266 lbs.ft. Adding to comfort, Chevy’s three-row crossover also has a 9-speed automatic transmission mated to its V6, compared to the VW’s 8-speed ‘box.
Which One to Buy?
Since these cars are so similar, whether you choose the Atlas or Traverse mainly comes down to personal preference. They’re competitive on price, features, warranties, and towing capacity. The Chevy is more powerful, but the Atlas has a rugged stance and a more distinctive presence. The Traverse offers more usable interior space, but the Atlas’ interior is arguably better laid out.