Volkswagen has thrown a little more weight behind its move into the utility vehicle space, following up yesterday's reveal of the Atlas Cross Sport concept with a new pickup truck concept at the New York Auto Show. While based on the mid-sized production Atlas SUV from last year, the dual-cab, five-seat Tanoak concept has a few notable differences designed to help it withstand off-road adventuring.
The full-size pickup is still king in the US, but the midsize has been gaining some steam. It's why Ford reintroduced the Ranger this year, and it's almost certainly why Volkswagen is testing the waters with the Atlas Tanoak Concept. Based on the automaker's MQB platform, the new concept pickup shows what a US-market Volkswagen could do in the dirt and on the job site.
Powered by VW's 3.6-liter V6 engine pumping out 276 hp (206 kW) and 266 lb-ft (361 Nm) of torque, the Tanoak pickup can complete the 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) sprint in 8.5 seconds. Demonstrating the versatility and scalability of the MQB platform, the Tanoak is 16 inches (40 cm) longer than the standard Atlas which is built on the same architecture.
It is also higher with a ground clearance of 9.8 in, while the cargo bed measures 64.1 in long, 57.1 in wide and 20.9 in high (163 x 145 x 53 cm). This cargo bed stretches out a further 26.1 in (66 cm) when the low-hinged tailgate is opened.
In creating a pickup concept, Volkswagen has skirted the edge of modern, digital and strong, traditional designs. The bright white of the LED front lighting signature brings the face to life with a bang, while the tailgate-wrapping rear lighting is reminiscent of Mercedes' original X-Class concept truck, albeit thicker and complemented by a set of quad rounds.
It seems a little odd that the pickup truck is the brighter and more LED-packed of the two Atlas concepts being debuted side by side in New York, given that a broad animated lighting signature seems likely to appeal more to the typical adventurous urbanite crossover driver than the hardworking, hard-playing midsize pickup owner. However, the Atlas Cross Sport is also much closer to production so has the more conservative styling.
The rest of the Atlas Tanoak design leans toward the rugged side, a muscular hood with raised midsection rising into an upright cabin that drops straight down into a rectangular bed box. A front winch and underbody protection add toughness and a touch of adventure, and the flared arches over top the 20-in wheels emphasize the 4Motion driving. A white LED strip integrated in the cargo rail serves to illuminate the bed at night.
Volkswagen modernizes things inside its ruggedized shell, relying heavily on digital control. The digital instrument cluster, high-set central infotainment touchscreen and electronic climate controls combine to create a digital cockpit. Ambient interior lighting glows yellow or blue depending on whether the truck is set to "off-road" or "city" drive mode.
"Although there are currently no production plans for the Atlas Tanoak, Volkswagen is keen to gauge the reactions of buyers and media, since pickup trucks are one of the biggest volume segments in the U.S."
It can, however, be seen at the New York Auto Show, which runs up until April 8.
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