As far as the auto market is concerned, looks can kill. With so many competitors in almost all possible segments the one thing that matters above all else is offering the right first impression. That can’t happen with poor designs.

Within the industry, the most cut-throat segment at the moment is SUVs and crossovers. Get your looks wrong and it’s all over before it starts.

So it’s worth taking a gander at the all-new Volkswagen Atlas, and how it would compete among three-row SUVs with its styling. Two prime examples of rivals would be the Mazda CX-9 and Honda Pilot.

Volkswagen believes that in order to stand out from the crowd, the best way would be to cut down on details that pop and to be upright instead of sporty. That makes sense, given that sporty looks have become the new bandwagon.

The Atlas stands poised and boxy, with an unassuming front fascia and modestly accented wheel arches. Its only standout feature being its deeply carved shoulder line which impresses upon its profile a demeanor not unlike its more premium counterparts.

Mazda CX-9

And speaking of premium counterparts, the recently transformed Mazda CX-9 is now one of them. The flagship Mazda SUV is hard to argue with, as its Kodo design language flaunts an elegance that is almost impossible to parallel at the mass market level.

The CX-9 is perfectly toned and doesn’t employ any loud features to catch the eye, save for perhaps its deep-set lower front bumpers. The same can’t be said of the Honda Pilot, though that’s not to say that the Pilot is ugly.

Honda Pilot

Plain would be the better word to describe the Ridgeline’s bedless twin. While it is technically minimal on the canvas like the CX-9, the Pilot is a lot softer, more casual akin well-fitted sneakers-and-jeans that contrasts to the suit-and-tie manner of the CX-9.

The brawniest of the three is surely the Atlas, and as its name implies the new VW ride would be the most suited for dirt trails in this comparison. Overall, we’re tempted to say that the CX-9 is the undisputed winner, but at the end of the day it’s all a matter of taste, and of course how deep one’s budget goes.

Staff Reporter

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