2021 VW Atlas vs Toyota Highlander


Are you searching for a 3-row SUV built for daily adventures around Parker, Littleton, or Castle Rock? If so, you have plenty of options to consider. Two of the most popular choices are the Volkswagen Atlas and the Toyota Highlander. These models are both known for being reliable and stylish and having an extensive lineup of advanced technology features.To see which of these titans meets your family’s needs, the team at McDonald Volkswagen has created this VW Atlas vs. Highlander comparison.

Continue reading and please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions!

VW Atlas vs Toyota Highlander – Performance Specs

Volkswagen Atlas vs. Toyota Highlander VW Atlas vs Toyota Highlander Engine Specs

What do you have on the docket for this weekend? Running a few errands? Catching the big game downtown? Perhaps it’s packing up for a big ski trip in the mountains. Whatever it is, each SUV supplies plenty of power and comfort to get you there and back.

Drivers who choose the VW Atlas S or SE trim will enjoy having 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque on command. Equipped with a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, it suits a wide variety of driving styles. Also, you’ll receive an EPA estimated 21 city/24 highway MPG.*

If a heaping side of rev is what you crave, VW also supplies a 3.6L V6 engine. Able to produce 276 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, it’s expertly managed via an 8-speed automatic transmission and available 4MOTION® all-wheel drive (AWD).

When comparing the standard powertrain on the Toyota Highlander, you’ll notice some similarities to the VW Atlas. The Toyota comes standard with a 3.5L V6 engine and 8-speed automatic transmission, which produces over 230 horsepower, too. This powertrain also receives the same city fuel rating as the VW Atlas: an EPA-estimated 21 city MPG.

The biggest difference between these two SUVs in terms of performance is that the base trim of the Highlander relies on front-wheel drive, requiring you to make a special upgrade if you want an AWD system. If you plan on driving in harsh weather conditions or off the beaten path, the Volkswagen Atlas might be the better choice for you.

VW Atlas vs Highlander: Exterior Design

2021 Volkswagen Atlas exterior designWhile some of the top features you’re looking for in your next SUV might be related to performance or advanced technology, there’s no denying style is a huge factor to consider. Most drivers want a vehicle they feel confident in and that’s thanks to exterior style. There’s no denying the VW Atlas and the Toyota Highlander are both attractive models, but which one suits you and your taste?

The exterior of the Volkswagen Atlas is bold and modern and comes with a vast selection of features to amplify its overall design and add convenience to your travels. The VW Atlas comes standard with:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Black roof rails
  • Fog lights with low-speed corner-illuminating feature
  • LED taillights and LED headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights
  • Power-operated, heated side mirrors, and more

Additionally, the Volkswagen Atlas offers a wide selection of exterior color options so you can design your vehicle just how you like it. Express your personal style through the following color choices:

  • Deep Black Pearl
  • Platinum Gray Metallic
  • Pyrite Silver Metallic
  • Tourmaline Blue Metallic
  • Pure White

On the other hand, we have the Toyota Highlander, an utterly stylish ride, too. The Highlander offers a great selection of exterior colors, plus some similar features to the VW Atlas, like standard 18-inch wheels and LED Daytime Running Lights/taillights.

However, the black roof rails and the fog lights with low-speed corner-illuminating feature are not found on the Highlander.

Exterior Dimensions

If you’re choosing your next SUV based on size, then you’ll want the inside scoop on the exterior dimensions of the 2021 VW Atlas and the Toyota Highlander. If you’re looking for a larger vehicle, you might be more interested in the VW Atlas.

The Volkswagen Atlas measures 200.7 inches long, 78.4 inches wide, and 70.1 inches high. Plus, it has a wheelbase that measures 117.3 inches and a ground clearance of eight inches.

The Highlander and the VW Atlas share one common measurement: The Highlander also offers a ground clearance of eight inches. However, the rest of its exterior dimensions are a bit smaller than what the Volkswagen delivers.

The Toyota Highlander is 194.9 inches long, 76 inches wide, 68.1 inches high, and has a wheelbase that measures 112.2 inches.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas exterior dimensions

VW Atlas vs Toyota Highlander: Interior Space and Comfort

There’s no two ways about it: The cabins of the VW Atlas and the Highlander are downright cavernous. This is great news, both for active families on the go and for drivers who have lots of gear to haul.

Front to back, each SUV supplies plenty of head- and legroom to go around. Drivers will find slightly more headroom in the VW Atlas along with more shoulder room. In total, the Volkswagen offers a larger passenger volume of 154 cubic feet, while the Highlander only provides 141.3 cubic feet.

Furthermore, with 96.8 cubic feet of available cargo space, it makes moving your eldest into their first apartment a breeze.

VW Atlas vs Toyota Highlander | McDonald VW

Meanwhile, the Highlander again falls short, providing 84.3 cubic feet of available cargo. While 12.5 cubic feet might not seem like much, it can mean the difference between fitting in that new entertainment center or leaving it at the store.

VW Atlas vs Toyota Highlander: Connectivity

To keep you in touch with everything you love back home, the VW Atlas features App-Connect. Through the available 8-inch touchscreen, you and your crew can pair multiple devices to enjoy a wide range of tech, including:

  • Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™
  • Fender® Premium Audio System
  • Bluetooth® wireless technology
  • Overhead View Camera

As for the Toyota Highlander, you’ll notice some similar standard features, like Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ as well as Bluetooth®. While the Highlander also offers a premium speaker system, the Fender® system is exclusive to the VW Atlas. The Toyota also lacks a dedicated smartphone app, which gives the Volkswagen Atlas the upper hand in this regard.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas technology

Volkswagen Atlas vs Toyota Highlander – The Final Say

Delivering a stronger performance, a more flexible interior, and plenty of cutting-edge tech, the VW Atlas easily out-muscles the competition.

To see for yourself, visit McDonald Volkswagen or go online to schedule a test drive around Parker, Littleton, and Castle Rock today!

* 21 city/24 highway mpg (2021 Atlas 2.0L, 8-speed automatic transmission). EPA estimates. Your mileage will vary and depends on several factors, including your driving habits and vehicle condition.

Contact Us

We would love to hear from you! Please fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Saved Vehicles


You don't have any saved vehicles!

Look for this link on your favorites:


Once you've saved some vehicles, you can view them here at any time.

Contact Us


Call Now

6000 S Broadway • Littleton, CO 80121

Get Directions

Today's Hours:

Open Today! Sales: 9am-7pm

Open Today! Service: 8am-5pm

Open Today! Parts: 8am-5pm

McDonald Volkswagen 39.6084375, 104.9897234.