We drove a $42,000 Toyota Highlander and a $40,000 Volkswagen Atlas to see which one is the better family SUV — here's the verdict

Volkswagen Atlas  4

  • The Toyota Highlander is one of the best selling midsize crossover SUVs in the US while the Volkswagen Atlas is a popular newcomer to the segment. 
  • The base 2018 Toyota Highlander starts $31,230 while the top-of-the-line Hybrid Limited Platinum model starts at $48,480.
  • The base 2018 Volkswagen Atlas starts at $30,750 while the top-spec SEL Premium with 4Motion starts at $48,740.
  • The Toyota Highlander’s superior refinement, build quality, and usability edges out the Volkswagen’s superior driving dynamics, size, and infotainment systems.

It’s official. The crossover SUV is now the undisputed vehicle of choice for American families. It’s role once filled by the minivan and before that the good ol’fashioned station wagon. 

But as far as the family crossover go, there are few more popular than the Toyota Highlander. Last year, Toyota sold nearly 216,000 Highlanders in the US, making it the third best selling mid-size SUV behind only the Ford Explorer and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Through June, sales up are up 14.3% with more than 114,000 Highlanders found homes in the US. 

However, the Highlander’s popularity has not gone unchallenged. In 2017, Volkswagen launched its all-new Atlas crossover SUV to positive reviews and strong sales. We came away from our time with the Atlas impressed by its size, comfort, infotainment, and driving dynamics. In fact, the big VW was one of the five runners-up for Business Insider’s 2017 Car of the Year

While growing in popularity, Atlas sales are a mere fraction of the Highlanders. Through the first six months of 2018, VW has sold just 28,000 of its big crossover. However, there’s cause for optimism. In June, the 3,699 Atlases sold represents a 53.3% increase over the same period last year. 

Over the past year, we’ve had the chance to sample two Highlanders; one in high-spec Hybrid Limited Platinum trim and another in mid-grade SE trim. We also tried out a pair of Atlas vehicles; one in high-grade SEL trim and the other in mid-grade SE trim. 

On paper, the VW and the Toyota match up pretty well. Both are roomy three-row, midsize, US-built crossover SUVs. Both offer four and six-cylinder engine options hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission. 

So, which is better? The stalwart Toyota or the upstart Volkswagen? Let’s find out. 

Note: This comparison is based on our impression of the two mid-grade models as they are more likely to reflect the vehicles purchased by actual consumers. 

First up is the Toyota Highlander.

Toyota lent us a pair of new Highlanders for evaluation in mid-grade SE V6 AWD and top-spec Hybrid Limited Platinum V6 AWD trim. Our grey SE carried an as-tested price of $42,545 while the brown Hybrid Limited Platinum stickered for $49,499.

The base four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive Highlander LE starts at $31,230.

Aesthetically, the Highlander is rather unexceptional. While I think it looks decently attractive, it’s far from pretty. In 2016, Toyota updated the Highlander’s large chrome front grille to mixed reviews.

The Highlander’s side profile is traditional crossover utility — boxy with rounded edges. It straddles the line between tall wagon and traditional SUV looks.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Read the full article from it’s original source: http://uk.businessinsider.com/toyota-highlander-and-vw-atlas-suv-comparison-which-is-better-2018-8

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