It’s a battle of the Europeans in this 2022 Volkswagen Atlas vs 2022 Volvo XC90 comparison of three-row mainstream and three-row luxury SUVs.
In a deep sea of three-row SUVs, a comparison of the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2022 Volvo XC90 pits a mainstream option stretching into luxury territory against a uniquely Swedish vehicle that is 100% high-end. Both offer a range of powertrains, AWD capability, and the latest technology. VW’s Atlas is bigger, but the Swede can be had with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The XC90 will also require a deeper wallet. Is it worth it? Let’s find out.
Volkswagen’s Atlas is a substantial six inches longer than the Volvo XC90 and it looks it with a less upright design. Under hood, base VW’s come with a 2.0L turbocharged inline-4 making 235 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. You’ll find the same engine sizing with Volvo’s base T5 powertrain that makes the same amount of torque and 15 more horsepower.
The upgraded Atlas mill is a 3.6L naturally aspirated V6 putting down 276 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, which you can learn more about in our deep dive review here. Volvo sticks with the inline-4 on their more potent option but adds a supercharger – along with the turbo – to juice things up, making 316 hp and 295 torques in T6 configuration.
But Volvo goes a step further by offering a plug-in hybrid powertrain that adds a battery pack, electric motor, and charging port. Known as T8 Recharge, this setup really steps up the output with ratings of 400 horses and 472 lb-ft of twist. Halfway through 2022, the T8 Recharge Extended Range was released. Along with having a comically long name, this variant sports a larger battery to make 455 hp and a whopping 523 torques.
Regardless of your favorite SUV in this 2022 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2022 Volvo XC90 matchup, you’ll find an 8-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels on entry models, with AWD tacked on as you move through the trim hierarchy. Both trucklets run on pricey 91-octane with nearly 19-gallon tanks, both have earned NHTSA 5-star crash ratings and in both cases, there is complimentary maintenance as part of the warranty. On that final note, VW’s free service is good for a 2-year/20,000-mile term, whereas Volvo gives you three years or 36,000 miles of coverage.
As both of these mid-sizers tip the scales at well over two tons, if you can swing the bigger motors, you’ll find highway driving more enjoyable. On that topic, Volvo’s T8 Recharge Extended Range is in a league of its own within this comparison as it’ll zip to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. Not enough to match the Audi SQ7, which we compare it against here, but certainly the hot rod option versus the Atlas.
Perhaps not surprising given its luxury trappings – and price – the XC90 offers a four-corner air suspension, something you won’t find on the Atlas. While the Volvo does technically offer more advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), on the whole, VW keeps up. Every 2022 Atlas comes fitted with blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and automated emergency braking with the option for adaptive cruise control. Volvo also includes these systems on the XC90, but it has eight standard systems, most of which can be found on the Atlas, just not the entry-level model. You can learn more about how these active safety nets work in our explainer article here.
On the fuel efficiency front, a 2022 Atlas is rated for 21 mpg in city driving and 25 on the highway when fitted with the four-cylinder or 18/24 mpg in city/highway driving using the V6. In both cases, adding all-wheel-drive reduces each figure by one mpg. Base XC90s with the T5 are rated for 21 mpg around town and 30 on the highway, or 20/28, respectively with AWD. The AWD-only T6 is estimated to achieve 19/27 mpg in city/highway driving, so on the gas-powered comparison, Volvo certainly is better, if only incrementally. However, in Recharge form, city/highway mpg figures jump to 26/28, not bad for 455 horsepower and AWD.
Remember that note on the Atlas being 6-inches longer than the XC90? This really comes into play on the cabin discussion. Both SUVs come standard with three rows of seating and seven positions with the option for middle-row captain’s thrones. But fold all those seats down and a 2022 Atlas can swallow 97 cubic feet of cargo to the 86 in an XC90. With the third row upright, you’ll find 21 cubes of space in the VW, five more than in the Volvo. Leg room in the second and third row only ranges by one to two inches in this 2022 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2022 Volvo XC90 comparison, but like most three-row midsize SUVs, that wayback section is best for kids.
If you’re after maximum creature comfort, the Volvo is for you, which is unsurprising given its luxury roots. VW offers leather, Volvo offers Nappa. You can enjoy heated and ventilated front seats in the Atlas. With the XC90, front thrones can be fitting with massaging functionality on top of that. Triple-zoned automatic climate control not enough in the Volkswagen? Never fear, the Swede sports quad-zoned controls. Along with the layers of additional luxury, the 2022 Volvo XC90 can outfitted with touches like a genuine crystal shifter from Orrefors and hand-stitched steering wheel. These are the type of features that elevate the interior on an XC90 past that of the Atlas.
Pricing on a 2022 VW Atlas ranges from $35,630 for a base SE up to $52,800 for a loaded SEL Premium. Across the board, LED exterior lighting, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and the company’s suite of four advanced driver assistance system – IQ. DRIVE – is included. A hands-free liftgate shows up on SE Technology trim and above, which is also a highlight of our Favorite Family Car Features write-up. Base models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto controlled via 6.5-inch touchscreen, but every other Atlas features an 8-inch screen with wireless smartphone integration.
Other reasons to look one step above base Atlas trim is that you’ll find a fully digital instrument panel, wireless phone charger, ACC, and remote engine start. A panoramic sunroof and navigation comes with the $45,400 Atlas SEL and the top-line SEL Premium has trim-exclusive features like 21-inch wheels, a heated second row and two-tone leather upholstery. This model also boasts an upgraded Fender stereo system, 360° Exterior Camera and semi-automated parking assistance.
Volvo breaks out their trim hierarchy by levels of content that takes a minute to wrap your head around. Momentum – which can be fitted with the T5, T6, or T8 Recharge powertrain – comes with 19-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive LED headlights, and hands-free liftgate. Volvo matches VW’s four standard ADAS and piles on with a lane keeping system and Rear Automatic Braking.
Like all 2022 XC90s, a 9-inch infotainment touchscreen from the automakers’ 90 Range Sensus lineup is fitted, one that we include on this list of Best Vehicle Infotainment Systems. It controls Apple and Android smartphone mirroring, a 10-speaker stereo, and navigation. Wireless charging, a digital gauge cluster are also part of the Momentum series, which starts at $51,995 on up to $66,895 for the T8 Recharge Extended Range model.
Volvos’ R-Design level of content is only available with the PHEV powertrain that stickers at $71,595 – add $1,000 for the extended range battery pack. This model sports 22-inch rims shod with performance rubber, four-corner air suspension and Volvo’s automated parking system. All the best bits are reserved for the XC90 Inscription, which can be had in T6 form for $65,695 or T8 Recharge for up to $73,195. Chrome exterior trim, illuminated doorsills, and a 14-speaker Harman-Kardon stereo set this model apart. It also offers access to the Lounge package, which comes with massaging front seats and stand-alone options like a thumping Bower & Wilkins audio system with 19 speakers and fancy wool-blend upholstery.
2022 Volkswagen Atlas – vw.com | Shop 2022 Volkswagen Atlas on Carsforsale.com
Picking a clear winner in this 2022 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2022 Volvo XC90 is difficult. The Atlas ranges between $35,000 and $53,000, while the XC90 starts at $52,000 and can approach $75,000. If, for example, your budget stops at 50 grand, VW is the obvious choice. And a rather good one with loads of family hauling and cargo space, up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity and no shortage of excellent bells and whistles.
2022 Volvo XC90 – media.volvocars.com | Shop 2022 Volvo XC90 on Carsforsale.com
However, if you set aside price and choose solely on vehicle merits, I would go with the Volvo and not simply because it offers a higher level of luxury. While that is nice, the XC90 is also a somewhat unique SUV. Sticking to its Swedish roots lends the XC90 a hard-to-define aura that is not quite a German ‘bahn burning SUV nor an American big and brash land yacht. It also offers significantly better fuel economy in Recharge guise. On the whole, the Volvo is a Volvo, which is good enough for me.