Automotive

Volkswagen drops the van and chases adventure with a different breed of camper

Volkswagen drops the van and c...
The Atlas Basecamp wears Platinum Gray and Black Uni paint with a matte finish and orange accents
The Atlas Basecamp wears Platinum Gray and Black Uni paint with a matte finish and orange accents
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The Basecamp Concept is based on an Atlas SEL Premium with 276-hp V6 and 4Motion all-wheel drive
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The Basecamp Concept is based on an Atlas SEL Premium with 276-hp V6 and 4Motion all-wheel drive
The Atlas Basecamp brings some extra toughness and capability to the VW road trip
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The Atlas Basecamp brings some extra toughness and capability to the VW road trip
Volkswagen splits camper from base vehicle with a Hive EX off-road trailer toting a pair of mountain bikes
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Volkswagen splits camper from base vehicle with a Hive EX off-road trailer toting a pair of mountain bikes
Volkswagen opens up adventure for its Atlas SUV
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Volkswagen opens up adventure for its Atlas SUV
At camp, the EX trailer expands with a slide-out kitchen and deployable awning
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At camp, the EX trailer expands with a slide-out kitchen and deployable awning
The Atlas Basecamp looks quite at home here, but it'll look a bit less natural in Manhattan
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The Atlas Basecamp looks quite at home here, but it'll look a bit less natural in Manhattan
The Atlas Basecamp was conceptualized as a trail-finding bike camping rig
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The Atlas Basecamp was conceptualized as a trail-finding bike camping rig
The fifteen52 concept wheels should go into production later this year
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The fifteen52 concept wheels should go into production later this year
Hive builds camping trailers to order, customizing them around each buyer's needs and wants
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Hive builds camping trailers to order, customizing them around each buyer's needs and wants
When a full camping rig is a little too large, you can unhitch the trailer and navigate with the Atlas alone and/or pull down the bikes and proceed on two wheels
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When a full camping rig is a little too large, you can unhitch the trailer and navigate with the Atlas alone and/or pull down the bikes and proceed on two wheels
VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
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VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
Volkswagen will debut the Atlas Basecamp at this week's New York Auto Show, displaying it again at SEMA 2019 later this year
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Volkswagen will debut the Atlas Basecamp at this week's New York Auto Show, displaying it again at SEMA 2019 later this year
The Atlas Basecamp includes all-terrain tires and a suspension lift
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The Atlas Basecamp includes all-terrain tires and a suspension lift
Basecamp badging
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Basecamp badging
The Atlas Basecamp wears Platinum Gray and Black Uni paint with a matte finish and orange accents
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The Atlas Basecamp wears Platinum Gray and Black Uni paint with a matte finish and orange accents
VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
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VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
The front and rear LED light bars add extra off-road lighting capability
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The front and rear LED light bars add extra off-road lighting capability
When dusk swoops down quickly, the Atlas Basecamp finishes the journey with the help of off-road lighting
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When dusk swoops down quickly, the Atlas Basecamp finishes the journey with the help of off-road lighting
VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
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VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
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VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
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VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
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VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
The Atlas Basecamp gets a custom body kit for a tougher look
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The Atlas Basecamp gets a custom body kit for a tougher look
VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
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VW Atlas Basecamp Concept

The Volkswagen badge is inextricably linked to #vanlife and the very concept of open road freedom and adventure. That'll only keep rolling with all-new camper vans that are every bit as compelling as the classics. In a slight departure, VW is parking the van in the garage and journeying out in a very different style of adventure rig. A combination of ruggedized VW Atlas and mountain bike-topped off-road expedition trailer, the all-new Atlas Basecamp Concept pulls the road trip off-road, unearthing tracks and trailheads less traveled.

As popular as the concept of camper van travel is right now, there's definitely something to be said about ditching the van for an SUV + trailer. You can start off with a utility vehicle more capable than any van and gain some towable storage rather than sacrificing passenger/cargo capacity to camper equipment. Upon arrival, you can quickly decouple car from home, leaving the trailer behind for lighter, nimbler day trips.

The Basecamp capitalizes on those advantages to chase adventure wherever it's lurking. The brainchild of Alex Earle, the exterior design manager at VW's California design center and an avid cyclist himself, the Basecamp design was specifically driven by the world of endurance mountain biking. It's optimized for reaching distant trailheads, where it serves as a comfy shelter to loop back to after leaving tens or hundreds of miles of mountain bike tire track in the dirt.

"The Basecamp Concept brings a go-anywhere attitude to the brand that is already synonymous with road-trip culture," Earle says.

VW Atlas Basecamp Concept
VW Atlas Basecamp Concept

Volkswagen of America started off with an Atlas SEL Premium with 276-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine and 4Motion all-wheel drive, optimizing the large SUV for off-pavement bike-shuttling duties. An H&R lift kit with coil-over springs increases ride height by 1.5 in (3.8 cm) to help clear obstacles, while 265/70R17 all-terrain tires provide stabilizing bite on shifty ground. Fifteen52 Traverse MX concept wheels make their debut on the Basecamp, previewing a design expected to hit the market later this year. The concept rig also wears a custom body kit, Front Runner roof rack with bike holders, and front and rear LED off-road light bars.

The real highlight of the Basecamp build rides behind the Atlas' rear bumper – an EX off-road expedition trailer built by Salt Lake City's Hive Campers. The burly, little squaredrop keeps a legit 60 x 80-in (152 x 203-cm) queen-size bed on hand wherever the road and dirt take you, also bringing along a slide-out kitchen, portable toilet, retractable awning and hot shower. The trailer's wheels and tires are matched to the Atlas.

The Atlas Basecamp was conceptualized as a trail-finding bike camping rig
The Atlas Basecamp was conceptualized as a trail-finding bike camping rig

The Atlas Basecamp will start life like a fish out of water when it debuts at this week's New York International Auto Show, given that the traffic-choked thoroughfares of Manhattan are hardly its natural habitat. It'll eventually find its way to more fitting environs at SEMA 2019 in November.

Source: Volkswagen

2 comments
guzmanchinky
Cool idea, but... If you really go off road regularly, those low hanging plastic parts in front will be shredded. And if you've ever been off road you know that sometimes you need to turn around, or approach obstacles in a strange way that would make towing a trailer sweat inducing to say the least. This setup looks cool for wide open spaces.
david403
VW hasn't actually dropped the van and the Atlas Basecamp isn't really a suitable camper. For some insane reason, VW just doesn't sell the camper van that they sell to the rest of the world to us.