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

Volkswagen midsize SUV safety ratings for the Atlas were better than ratings for the Jeep Cherokee. Due to Volkswagen midsize SUVs scoring lower than Jeep midsize SUVs they will generally have higher insurance rates. Volkswagen midsize SUV safety ratings were based on crash tests and child latch safety.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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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...

  • Volkswagen Atlas is one of the largest vehicles that this German brand ever produced
  • Jeep Cherokee is one of the most famous SUVs that the American producer ever assembled
  • Generally, Sports Utility Vehicles are known as the most common auto-choice for modern families
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety test new models to see if drivers will get the necessary protection.

As both Volkswagen and Jeep continue to compete for market share, one could say that Jeep has an upper hand in the area of SUVs.

This assumption could be made because SUVs are the only type of a car that is produced by the American brand whereas the German car maker creates compact vehicles, trucks, minivans, and almost anything on four wheels that comes to mind.

Regardless, when it comes to safety issues that many SUVs encounter, there is a very similar track record between these companies.

Compare car insurance quotes between these makes of vehicle to see if you could get a lower rate with one versus the other. Enter your zip code into our free rate tool above to get started.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

To prevent any exposure to malicious and dangerous environments, this Institute will reassure drivers that vehicles have been tested and showed good, acceptable, marginal, or poor performance.

To get to those results, collision performance will be taken into account as well as crash prevention sensors, child seat latches, headlights power, airbag efficiency, seat belt reliability, and more.

Upon completing the in-depth review, the company will declare if a vehicle is capable of maintaining a good survival space. Consequently, the driver seat is filled with a dummy doll containing many sensors that will track bodily injuries.

Thus, the Institute can predict what are the most common injuries resulting from a crash and how the manufacturer failed to address those areas.

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Volkswagen Atlas 2017 Versus Jeep Cherokee 2017


In the crashworthiness category, the SUVs were tested in multiple areas:

  • Front small/moderate overlap test
  • Side impact and roof’s durability
  • Head and neck restraints

The first test, the small overlap front collision showcased Volkswagen’s good ability to preserve the survival space. Jeep, however, came short and only received a marginal rating.

The most common issue for Cherokee was airbag deployment as the side curtains never got launched, while the front ones failed to protect the driver’s head from hitting the instrument panel. 

Also, the cabin was crashed thus leading to a moderate risk to lower limbs of the driver, especially on the left side.

Roofs compared fairly close as both models had roof strengths around five. This was an entire point above the necessary threshold to get the good rating.

Ultimately, with exception of the small overlap test which Volkswagen won, each car received a good rating for all other crashworthiness sub-tests.

Crash Prevention & Mitigation


As the comparison progressed, the vehicles got evaluated for their abilities to prevent an accident. The crash prevention category was based on few different factors as well:

  • Forward collision warning – one point
  • 12-mph test – two points
  • 25-mph test – three points

Unlike crashworthiness and latch tests, however, the grades achievable here were basic, advanced, or superior.

Jeep Cherokee and Volkswagen Atlas both received five out of six points which granted them a superior rating. 

The area that needed some improvement was the 25-mph test where Jeep achieved 12 miles per hour speed reduction while Volkswagen slowed down by 17 miles per hour. Nonetheless, both models displayed a great ability to detect and prevent an inevitable accident.

As far as headlights are considered, Cherokee took the victory since its performance was evaluated as acceptable. Atlas, whose best ability with only certain trims was capped at marginal, lost.

This category is important since it can make a vehicle ineligible for the Top Safety Pick Plus award given by the Institute.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

To wrap up the comparison, the Insitute evaluated child anchors that are used to connect a child seat. Volkswagen had a slight advantage as there were three full anchor positions in the back, while Jeep only placed two in Cherokee. Regardless, Jeep still came out victorious.

The rating that Atlas SUV obtained was only marginal since there were numerous problems with the location of the latches. The IIHS found them to be too deep in the seat, too hard to attach, and too similar to other hardware that could be mistaken for a latch.

Jeep also had some issues with hardware that looked similar to anchors, but that was the only problem that the American manufacturer faced.

2017 Top Safety Pick and/or 2017 Top Safety Pick+


To be eligible for either of these awards the following criteria must be met:

  • Top Safety Pick – five good scores in crashworthiness and a superior/advanced crash prevention rating.
  • Top Safety Pick Plus – five good scores in crashworthiness, a superior/advanced crash prevention rating, and an acceptable or good headlight rating.

Due to Jeep’s marginal score in the small overlap front crash, it was immediately excluded from both of these achievements. Volkswagen, however, received the Top Safety Pick award as it came short for the Plus category due to weak headlight performance.

Choosing the Right Insurance

Although safety, design, performance, longevity, and other categories are important, one must consider the non-direct implications of buying a car. One of those is the insurance that will be mandatory.

The particular coverage one obtains depends on the laws in their state, how high of a premium they are willing to pay, are they okay with a high deductible, and more. With hundreds of companies around the nation, however, making this choice is even harder than imagined.

This is where online websites that provide in-depth, real-time comparisons between popular insurance offers are useful. One can review quotes, eligibilities, and a lot more all while enjoying the comfort of their home.

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The Winner


As far as Jeep Cherokee and Volkswagen Atlas go, the SUV comparison was very close.

The German producer won the crashworthiness category but lost in both headlights and child latches.

Since headlights fall in the crash prevention category that Volkswagen received a superior rating for, one could neglect that review for the purpose of the overall analysis. Therefore, the only category that Atlas showed concerning issues within was the latch area.

As the vehicle’s ability to entertain child anchors will always come second to the driver’s safety, Volkswagen Atlas can be declared as a small-margin winner. Nonetheless, both models showed a good performance and should be considered by SUV-searching buyers.

Compare car insurance quotes to find the best rate for the coverage you need regardless of which vehicle you decide to buy.

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