Volkswagen vs Dodge Midsize SUV Safety Rating Comparison: Who Comes Out On Top?

Volkswagen midsize SUV safety ratings for the Atlas were better than ratings for the Dodge Durango and Journey. Due to Volkswagen midsize SUVs scoring higher than Dodge midsize SUVs they will generally have lower insurance rates. Volkswagen midsize SUV safety ratings earned the Atlas the Top Safety Pick award.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • While the 2017 Volkswagen Atlas was a recipient of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick award, it has lower ratings in two important safety categories
  • The Dodge Durango and Journey both had lower safety scores in three or more of the Insurance Institute for Highway safety tests
  • Finding a safe SUV to buy can play a role in your family’s well-being and on the cost of your insurance premium

Between your goal of trying to find a vehicle that meets your needs for passenger seating and storage space, that is affordable for your budget, and that has a style that you love, you may have narrowed your options down to either the Volkswagen or Dodge midsize SUVs.

The Volkswagen Atlas, Dodge Journey, and Dodge Durango all have fairly similar features. You may have also enjoyed similarly wonderful experiences on the road when you test drive these SUVs at your local dealerships.

Despite numerous similarities between the Dodge and Volkswagen SUVs, you should not make the common assumption that the safety features and ratings are similar between these vehicles.

In fact, while two of the vehicles were rated in the second half of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) safety test results list for midsize vehicles, one of the vehicles received a special honor for its fabulous safety test results.

Compare car insurance rates between these two makes. Use our free quote tool above to get started finding the best rate for the car insurance coverage you need.

Are IIHS safety test ratings for the Dodge and Volkswagen SUVs comparable?

Because of how similar the Journey, Durango, and Atlas seemingly are in numerous ways, you may feel inclined to overlook the important aspect of safety ratings when making a buying decision.

However, when you review the IIHS safety test results in all eight areas that these and other midsize SUVs were analyzed in, you will notice that any assumptions about similar safety test results are simply wrong.

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Categorizing Eight IIHS Safety Tests into Three Groups

Each Midsize SUV has a unique test result for each of the eight IIHS safety tests. It can be confusing to review and compare so many different test results. In order to simplify this process for you, the IIHS has categorized five of the tests into the crashworthiness group.

In addition, two of the tests have been placed in a crash mitigation and avoidance group, and the final LATCH test is grouped on its own.

While each of the test results provides detailed information that can help manufacturers improve safety capabilities in future models, the test results have been consolidated to scores that range from “poor” to “good.”

One of the safety tests uses a different scoring system, and it has rankings from “basic” up to “superior.”

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The Effectiveness of Occupant Safety Features

Occupant safety in the crashworthiness group is analyzed in test areas such as the following:

  • Head Restraints and Seats
  • Front Marginal Overlap
  • Side
  • Roof Strength
  • Front Small Overlap

The 2017 Atlas from Volkswagen had the best rating possible in each of these five important tests. 

Conversely, the Dodge Journey had the lowest rating of “poor” for the Front Small Overlap test, and the Durango had an only slightly better rating of “marginal.” The Journey and the Durango had a “good” score for the remaining four test areas in the crashworthiness group.

The Ability to Prevent Collisions


Headlights is one of the important tests that is grouped into the crash mitigation and avoidance safety area. The Dodge Durango and the Volkswagen Atlas had a dismal Headlights score of “marginal,” and the Journey had an even lower score of “poor.”

However, the Atlas received a “superior” score for Front Crash Prevention. The Durango only was rated “basic” for this test, and the Journey was not tested in this safety area.

LATCH: Securing Car Seats Correctly

While the ability to securely and easily attach child safety seats to the anchors in your backseat is important for drivers with young children, a decent or higher score for the LATCH test is not required in order to receive an honorable recognition for safety by the IIHS.

The Atlas and Journey were given a lower “marginal” mark in this area, and the Durango had a slightly better showing with a test result of “average.”

2017 IIHS Top Safety Pick: Volkswagen Atlas


The LATCH and Headlights scores are not analyzed by the IIHS when determining which vehicles receive the Top Safety Pick award, but vehicles will need better test scores for the Front Crash Prevention test and for all of the crashworthy test areas.

This grading system works in favor for the Volkswagen Atlas, which is a recipient of the Top Safety Pick award for 2017.

Lower ratings or a lack of test results for the Front Small Overlap and Front Crash Prevention categories has prevented the Durango and Journey from receiving special safety awards.

Now that you are aware of the considerable variations in safety scores for some of the IIHS tests, you may be leaning more heavily toward buying one specific midsize SUV model.

As important as safety tests are, remember that price, features, consumer reviews, and even insurance rates for the different vehicles should also be analyzed carefully.

Requesting online SUV insurance quotes today for these three models is a great step to take if you want to make a more educated SUV buying decision. Get quotes right here by entering your zip code below.

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