Volkswagen Stuns New York With Atlas Tanoak Pickup Concept

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Looks like: A big, butch, mid-size pickup

Defining characteristics: Chunky wheels and fenders, all-digital interior, fancy lighting, unique bedrail system

Ridiculous features: The light show when you start it up

Chance of being mass-produced: We'd be surprised if it isn't

Volkswagen's MQB platform forms the basis of a dozen cars around the world — it's an amazingly flexible chassis that underpins everything from the tiny Polo subcompact to the great big seven-seat Atlas SUV. Well, VW is keen to show just how flexible this architecture is, and has done so by pulling the wraps off a stunning surprise concept vehicle at the 2018 New York International Auto Show. This is the Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak concept, a large, five-passenger mid-size pickup truck based on the Atlas, and while VW says that it's not necessarily intended for production, the company will carefully gauge public reaction to the concept to see whether it might be a good idea.

Exterior

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The Atlas Tanoak shares some structure and front styling with the Atlas SUV, but the Tanoak features a different look to the front end, with a taller grille, round LED running lights, LED headlights and an integrated winch in the bumper. Everything aft of the front doors is new: The rear doors feature handles that are integrated into the C-pillars to disguise them, while beefier fenders are fitted over the rear wheels, culminating in a tailgate with a stamped Atlas logo.

The Tanoak is bigger than the Atlas, too. This is the biggest vehicle yet built on the MQB platform, as it's been stretched even longer than the Atlas SUV. The overall length is 15.8 inches longer than the Atlas, for a total of 214.1 inches, while its wheelbase also has been extended by 11 inches to 128.3 inches. It sits higher too, thanks to a 2-inch lift, giving it 9.8 inches of ground clearance. VW calls it a "dual-cab seater-seater" setup, but four full-size doors would technically classify it as a crew cab in pickup parlance.

The bed is 64.1 inches long and 57.1 inches wide, with 50.4 inches between the wheel wells. VW says that it can easily transport things like bikes or surfboards; with the tailgate lowered, it can haul all-terrain vehicles and small motorcycles. It features a unique bedrail system that VW says improves flexibility for the cargo area.

Interior

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The Atlas Tanoak's interior is significantly redesigned from the Atlas SUV, but features a lot of concept-style electronica that is unlikely to make it to production. Using touchscreens for most major functions like climate control looks good on a concept car, but isn't likely to be used if VW makes the Tanoak. Neither is the nifty interior ambient mood lighting that shifts from yellow to blue light at night, depending on whether the vehicle's mode selector is in Off-Road or City mode. The reconfigurable Volkswagen Digital Cockpit instrument display for the gauge cluster is a much better bet to make production, however.

Under the Hood

Powering this beast is VW's excellent 3.6-liter V-6 engine that can be found in both the Atlas SUV and Passat sedan. It makes 276 horsepower and puts the power down through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels, using full-time 4Motion all-wheel drive. The Tanoak AWD features something called Active Control, which VW says allows the driver to switch between various on- and off-road modes depending on the terrain and environment. The transmission also features a low-range gear reduction for off-road crawling over more serious terrain. While that may suggest more serious off-road capability, the 20-inch wheels suggest otherwise.

While VW is mum on whether it will build the Atlas Tanoak, it wouldn't be hard to envision the automaker doing so. It has a big platform that could easily go up against a Honda Ridgeline, a plant in Tennessee where the Atlas SUV is built that has plenty of capacity to fill, a market in the U.S. clamoring for more pickups and a mandate from the VW corporate office in Germany to give its various global regions more autonomy to make product decisions. And while VW already makes a perfectly good mid-size pickup globally with the Amarok, that truck isn't coming here and can't be imported due to the tariff situation. Given all these conditions, the Tanoak seems like a much more likely idea.

Manufacturer images

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VW Tanoak 1

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Comments

It looks like Tron took a dump all over that thing, inside and out. Also you lost me and every other red-blooded American when you described something as “butch”.

Nice, like the Sierra wantabe fog lights

Not bad. Could you imagine hitting something or damaging the front grill or back tailgate and have to replace the whole thing bc its one solid piece of lights....WOW!!! PRICEY!!!


Unibody?

No thanks! Not a truck, more of a car with a bed!

Overall I like this design (surprisingly). My only beef with the exterior is the matte black style line between the cab and bed... It's a uni-body truck, so let's not pretend to style it otherwise. I think it would actually look good without visually trying to separate the cab from the bed.... The interior is simply stunning as is. WELL DONE, VW.... well done!

Just not a fan of mid-sized trucks without a long bed. Even for outdoor enthusiasts like myself, I want a bed that I can put mountain bikes in and close the tailgate so I can still use a receiver hitch for other things.

Cute. It will be toned down for the production model, otherwise it'd be hella expensive. I do hope they really consider making it. Truck fans are sick of the nice concepts only for them to be shut down and forgotten.

This is wider than a Ram 1500 and the same width as a Ford F150. This is a full sized truck competing in the higher trim of a full sized truck market but with a V6. This is not a midsize truck competitor. Its one of those vehicles that has no home, it will never be built. Tires are also ridiculous on these concepts all the time.

I like it. I also like the Ridgeline. These are 'pickups' that dont need exgaggerated statistics or power numbers. These types of trucks are the unsung heros of desk-jockeys everywhere that need to commute in their khakis, but remodel a bathroom on the weekend.

Keep the styling, and tone down the LED accents. Carry over the interior from the Atlas. Make it capable of hauling 1500 lbs, and towing 5000+. Basically, make it just like a Ridgeline, but without the dopey front end. Give it more 'truck' like utility like higher bed rails, locking tailgate, and a sliding rear window.

Also, keep the price down so it gives me a reason to pick it over a comparable full-size. But, so far, so good.

The future is unibody.

Looks like you would need to be a contortionist to get into the back seat.
My back gets sore just looking at it.

Cool looking truck, but those rear lights gotta be expensive.

-CT

You like the Ridgeline, you will love rhis.
It is a cheap Pickup made for the NA market by VW

Let me take my measuring tape to it. I bet it's not 64.1" long bed with tailgate up. Just like the Ridgeline (too short). Let the beds grow another foot (or give them a longer bed option). 214" +12" =226" so still would fit in a 234" garage.
So tired of these midsizers, not to mention full-sizers, still not being forward enough cab design to allow the longer beds without increasing the overall length.

Wonder if its going to sell in the market it will go against Honda Ridgeline selling 3000 per month. I prefer this one but unibody pick up is not accepted as a mainstream pick up. Anyway good luck to VW.

Frustrating how that 90's VW truck picture shows a very long bed. Now no small pickups exist at all, and they come back with a concept with a 5' bed. A blogger at TFLtruck said:
nearly full size truck short bed. Not only do we not have 7' small trucks anymore, much of the market is accepting of a 5.5" bed in a full size. It's like the pendulum has swung from almost too long in a small pickup, to not long enough in a full-size unless one goes full size and 6.5' bed, which then equates to ginormous. As Chingon is good at saying over and over again. JUNK! :-)

I say VW should produce it would I buy it over a Ridgeline NO
Would I buy it over Tacoma, or GM Twins, Ranger YES
The much better Driving Dynamics of the Uni-Body over the conventional Body On Frame Trucks.

Millennial's will eat this up

Not bad. Could you imagine hitting something or damaging the front grill or back tailgate and have to replace the whole thing bc its one solid piece of lights....WOW!!! PRICEY!!!


Posted by: TNTGMC | Mar 28, 2018 10:55:44 AM

Who care's about replacement cost, is that not the reason you carry insurance?

Not bad. Could you imagine hitting something or damaging the front grill or back tailgate and have to replace the whole thing bc its one solid piece of lights....WOW!!! PRICEY!!!


Posted by: TNTGMC | Mar 28, 2018 10:55:44 AM

Who care's about replacement cost, is that not the reason you carry insurance?

I like it
(but I am one of the few regulars here that also likes the F-150 Eco-Boost, I am a minority)
but I wouldn't own one cause I only buy American Made and everybody knows the F-150 is the most American Made truck

@ dale milner I am a Baby boomer and I like it but you are probably correct.

much better Driving Dynamics of the Uni-Body over the conventional Body On Frame Trucks...Posted by: RIDGELINE OWNER 2007 | Mar 28, 2018

There is a magazine you'd enjoy. Cosmopolitan

I like it...modern style...more like Ram and GM are going to...not blocky...new sign of the times. Regular drive around 1/2 ton truck will shrink in 5 years...electric is coming...sleeker designs without all the gadgets in them, drive themselves.

At opinion

BC every time u have a claim your insurance can go up...duh!!!
And I was just stating a point they would be pricey!

@papajim please read Car & Driver, Car & Motor Trend, Pickuptrucks.com read the pros & cons of Body On Frame vs Uni-Body must be reason it's only a handful of vehicles still using Body On Frame Pickup Trucks and large SUVs like Escalade Tahoe Expedition. Explorer switched to Uni-Body from Body On Frame

I think its neat. I guessing it will have sales similar to the Ridgeline. Not a huge dealer net work to sell them from.

Like ke the Nissan/ Renault/ Mitsubishi Group the US is not a major market for VW. So you get cheap Pickups based on a crossover. The 3.6 V6 should be suitable for this if VW gives the go ahead

The old chicken tax impacts what foreign pickups can be sold in the US for a reasonable price. So they try to cut corners by using auto platforms.

It's tough to isolate noise generated by towing trailers with unibodies. The entire vehicle unibody acts like loudspeaker.

Junk junk and more junk just like Angelo.

RIDGELINE OWNER 2007,
You are correct about the BOF vs unibody. pretty much most of what papajim spews forth on PUTC is just nonsense and fake news. Even the prestige European marques use unibody for their SUVs. Unibody also offers greater strength vs vehicle weight. Look at the Grand Cherokee, it has a 7 700lb tow limit. This is fantastic for a small vehicle.

Unibody offers superior on road performance.

In Australia most who own pickups never carry much more than air and tow even less. This is very similar to the US.

Pickups are becoming a new age fashion statement.

Since pickup have become more common than doggy doo they are losing the façade that a pickup driving dude is a tough a*s, rugged individual.

Look at the new and soft Ram, it's something a hairdresser could be seen in. Yup, pickups are so mainstream the style has changed to suit people who are "more normal".

This is great!

I like this VW, but it's a pity you have the Chicken Tax and you don't get the midsize V6 Amarok with a 3 litre V6 diesel with more grunt than the Ram VM V6 diesel.

Robert Ryan,
The VW V6 petrol engine is quite a performer. I don't know how it will go with FE.

The ideal engine would be the 3 litre V6 VW diesel.

I don't mind the external style of this as it is quite nice. I wonder if the next Amarok will have similar design ques.

Of late I don't mind the new look front end on the large VWs.

According to how you decipher the data VW (VAG) is the largest vehicle manufacturer in the world, or the Nissan Renault Mitsubishi team. Both these companies are proving they can operate anywhere in the world and profitably.

I think it's a pity the major US manufacturers like Ford, FCA and GM struggle outside of the US market. Maybe they are used to doing business in the "old" world. Now they must change and adapt, or like GM shrink globally.

Ford has actually lost 30% of it's Chinese sales. This doesn't bode well for a business to lose business in the World's largest vehicle market.

Talking pickup design.

Ford had better learn how to shape aluminium and sculpt the next F-150 into something better looking than a shopping cart.

I do know it's easier and far cheaper for Ford to bend straight line and this also makes it easier to glue two pieces of aluminium together, sort of like gluing paper.

I do think the new Ram is a good looking as this VW, better suited to us, the real pickup owners, not the façade tough a*s, rough ones, trying to be a real man.

Unibody makes sense for little "trucks" since almost none of them are ever doing any real body on frame required work.

BIG LED lighting packages will be the next who can put more cameras where faster type item.

Big Fail from Oz: Last time I checked the F-Series is the best selling truck brand on the planet.

@Big Al--I like this truck but I prefer it in an extended cab. Having said that it would sell. The Colorado/Canyon, the Frontier, and the yet to be release Ranger would be my pick if I were buying and an extended cab would be my choice. If I were buying now I would want an extended cab with a 5 or 6 speed manual and an I-4 which would narrow the choice considerably and would limit my choices to more stripped down models. I enjoy driving a manual more than an automatic, but I do see that the manual is a dying breed. I still prefer the manual.

And once again PUTC is behind the times. What do you mean "VW stuns with surprise concept"?? There has been talk of VW showing a pickup concept at the New York show for over 4 months now and there have been rumors of a VW pickup for almost 2 years.

You would think a site like PUTC would already know about this ....

They would need to slap a turbo or supercharger on that 3.6 to please us power-hungry truck buyers.

"And once again PUTC is behind the times. What do you mean "VW stuns with surprise concept"?? There has been talk of VW showing a pickup concept at the New York show for over 4 months now and there have been rumors of a VW pickup for almost 2 years. You would think a site like PUTC would already know about this ...." ---- Posted by: sk

The rumors all suggested it would be the Amarok or maybe an updated version, not an all-new model.

Now personally, I like the looks but I honestly think it's too big; they're playing to the American idea that bigger is always better. Honestly, as a CUV competitor, it should be 25% smaller, based on the Tiguan, not the Atlas. Then it would be more tempting to all the mid-sized and smaller CUV owners out there and wouldn't be competing with the full-sized BoF models which the Ridgeline has already proven is a tough market to crack.

Interesting idea in the unibody segment.
I was hoping for the Amarok to be the story.
I see VW going for a market niche for which there is little competition other than Ridgeline.
The Amarok unfortunately while quite capable would be at a distint disadvantage against the entrenched loyalty of Ford,GM, Toyota buyers.
The marketing efforts would be quite huge for a very small piece of the pie.

test

@ridgeline owner

I've been reading the other auto mags since before you were born. You don't realize how you sound evidently. Please don't even bring the unibody Explorer into this discussion. It's a recycled Volvo from 20 years ago.

At least VW is dealing in new designs.

Does it have a hidden lockable waterproof "trunk" like the Ridgeline? If not, then big advantage Ridgeline. If Honda hadn't hit it with an ugly stick they could sell more of them. Not sure who is going to buy this VW thing.

Every angle of that truck makes me cringe. Who'd want to be driving behind that back end and get blinded by the tailgate (literally entire tailgate) light?

The sliding rack w/brake light encapsulated in the rear roof pocket looks like they want to be taken seriously as a lumber hauler. My slider is much stockier with bracing, bench-dog stops and rated at 500lb. max load. Theirs looks too flimsy for anything over 100lbs. Not much use in the work-a-day universe.
Their bed bulkhead pass-thru seems more useful (If you don't have leather seats).

The Neon-esque exterior lighting is over the top, and embodies a "look at me" billboard. I had a vacation rental car with a light band through the dash that was invisible in daylight and subtle at night. It had a pleasing effect that I liked. It didn't change colors like these. Less is more.(IMO)
They want a concept to scream like a billboard but do you want to drive around in one? In Vegas sure, but those guy's get paid to drive up and down the strip.
Tone it down VW. Your up to 11!

@papajim you just have a problem with midsized uni-body pickup trucks.

@Red blinded by tailgate light.
You must have never driven behind the Retro Dodge Chargers their taillights go all the way across. You sure know what it is at night.

@Ridgeline Owner

Jeep made a great unibody pickup back in the 1980s, the Commanche

RIDGELINE OWNER 2007,
I really liked the Commanche, especially the inline 4 litre six. I bought a new XJ Sport in 95 and it was a disappointment due to breakdowns. I got rid of it after 15 months.

RIDGELINE OWNER 2007,
I really liked the Commanche, especially the inline 4 litre six. I bought a new XJ Sport in 95 and it was a disappointment due to breakdowns. I got rid of it after 15 months.

As Big Al has noted, the 4.0L Jeep/Chrysler/AMC engine was a popular six cylinder with quite a few applications.

Like many of the US engines during the 60s, 70s, 80s, the emissions and FE demands, and the multitude of changes that compliance with the EPA required can be confusing for those who want to update or modify a 4.0L

There is a lot of very detailed information about the 4.0 online. It was a very well suited gas engine for mid-size and base model half ton trucks, but Chrysler dropped it and replaced it with the very ordinary 3.8 V6 about 10 years ago.



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