Finding a 3-row SUV with seating for at least seven people, advanced driver assistance technology, and modern creature comforts isn’t that difficult. However, getting the one that suits you and your particular needs can sometimes be a larger task than expected. But there are some excellent choices out there, including the 2024 Subaru Ascent and 2024 Volkswagen Atlas.

These 3-row SUVs are appealing in different ways with different sets of strengths. Let’s compare them and find the right family SUV for you.

2024 Subaru Ascent

One of the reasons people are looking for a big SUV is safety, and few vehicle brands conjure up safety the way Subaru does. The Ascent, the company’s biggest SUV, doesn’t miss the mark here.

With eight trim levels, finding one of these family haulers in the setup you prefer should be relatively easy. As is the case with nearly every Subaru, you won’t have to worry about whether or not all-wheel drive is part of the package, as it’s standard on every trim level of the Ascent. It also secured a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), just like the Atlas.

The Ascent is powered by a 2.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, putting out 260 horsepower. It can tow up to 5,000 pounds. It seats a total of eight or seven passengers, depending on configuration. Pricing for the Ascent starts at $35,740, including the destination charge.

Subaru Ascent Highlights

Standard AWD: Slippery roads and rough terrain are no match for Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, which comes standard on every trim of the Ascent. X-Mode off-road drive modes also come standard. The combination makes it a competent off-roader for a 3-row family SUV.

No sounds of silence: The cabin of the Ascent is a nice place to be. It’s comfortable and roomy, with plenty of technology to make your drive better. This further enables the available Harman Kardon sound system, and its 13 speakers and subwoofer pumps out 792 watts of clear, crisp sound.

Room for eight: Whereas the Atlas can seat a total of seven people, the Ascent does one better, literally. When configured with a second-row bench, the Subaru can accommodate up to eight people.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Ascent models for sale near you.

2024 Volkswagen Atlas

2024 Volkswagen Atlas SEL in red near a green ivy wall.

The 2024 Volkswagen Atlas is VW’s flagship SUV and one built especially for the needs and tastes of the American market. It is a well-mannered, tech-laden, spacious SUV with looks to match. VW has learned a lot about the 3-row SUV market during its short time in the business, and the Atlas has benefited from smart updates since debuting for the 2018 model year — just a year prior to the Ascent.

The 2024 Atlas got some exterior and interior tweaks to make it look more like it should be outside, perhaps even driving in the mud — or at least be mud-adjacent. The Atlas is an attractive-looking 7-seater with cabin updates that include a bigger screen, 3-zone climate control, wireless charging, and more. Pricing starts at $39,420, including the destination charge.

Volkswagen Atlas Highlights

Class-leading passenger space: Atlas owners know there’s plenty of room for both people and their gear. This SUV has the most third-row legroom in its class — 33.7 inches — which your passengers will appreciate. Perhaps just as importantly, when you lower the second and third rows, there’s plenty of space for stuff. It’s a real hauler.

Strong engine: This current generation of the Atlas gets an all-new and more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 269 horsepower. One of the significant drawbacks of the previous models was an anemic 4-cylinder, and even the more powerful V6 wasn’t anything to write home about. 2024 is a new year with a much better powertrain.

Plenty of tech: The interior tech makes the cabin a pleasant and safe place, starting with its all-new ID.Drive with several new driver assistance technologies and simple convenience features like wireless charging, ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. The VW’s extensive list of standard comfort and tech features is partly why the Atlas has a higher starting price than the Ascent.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Atlas models for sale near you.


They’ll seat seven passengers easily and are not always the first things on many shoppers’ lists — but for some shoppers, they should be. They also both have turbocharged 4-cylinder engines delivering similar performance and efficiency.


Sometimes, getting a vehicle that’s like everybody else’s is a real drag. It’s almost a uniform that you have to wear. However, these two options stand apart in a crowded segment.

The Ascent makes a strong case as the value choice, and if you need seating for eight. It has one of the lowest starting prices in its class, and you don’t have to pay extra for all-wheel drive. However, the upscale Atlas has almost minivan-like interior space and a generous list of standard features. The right SUV for your family depends on your needs and your budget.

2024 Subaru Ascent 2024 Volkswagen Atlas
Starting Price $35,740 $39,420
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder Boxer 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower 260 hp @ 5,600 rpm 269 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque 277 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm 273 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission CVT 8-speed automatic
Fuel Economy 20 city/26 highway/22 combined 20 city/27 highway/23 combined
Also Available AWD
Basic Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 5 stars 5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 8 7
Wheelbase 113.8 inches 117.3 inches
Overall Length 196.8 inches 200.7 inches
Width 76.0 inches 78.3 inches
Height 71.6 inches 70.4 inches
Turning Diameter 38.0 feet 41.0 feet
Headroom, Front 41.2 inches 41.3 inches
Headroom, 2nd Row 40.0 inches 40.4 inches
Headroom, 3rd Row 36.2 inches 38.3 inches
Legroom, Front 42.2 inches 41.7 inches
Legroom, 2nd Row 38.6 inches 37.6 inches
Legroom, 3rd Row 31.7 inches 33.7 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 61.1 inches 61.5 inches
Shoulder Room, 2nd Row 60.3 inches 60.8 inches
Shoulder Room, 3rd Row 57 inches 54.9 inches
Cargo Volume 17.8/75.6 cubic feet 20.6/96.6 cubic feet

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