NY auto show: Volkswagen reveals Atlas pickup truck

Ruben Fields
March 31, 2018

Inside the Tanoak pickup concept.

Catch up on what we know so far via PickupTrucks.com, and check back in with us frequently this week as our team of automotive experts brings you coverage of all the action straight from the floor of the NY auto show.

The German automaker's US unit unveiled its Atlas Tanoak Concept at the 2018 New York International Auto Show on Wednesday. The Tanoak is the first pickup truck to be fitted to the MQB.

If there's an oddity in the mix, it's that VW - for all its recent talk of being on the accelerating train toward widespread electrification - opted to make the Atlas Tanoak a pure gasoline truck.

The company was careful to say it has "no production plans" for a pickup. While the Atlas Cross Sport concept previews a new five-passenger Atlas, the Atlas Tanoak concept could be an early look at a future VW pickup.

Drury said the Tanoak concept has a unibody construction, such as in the lower-selling Honda Ridgeline pickup.

Volkswagen design head Klaus Bischoff said the five-seat Tanoak is "a deep dive into the heart of the American dream". That makes it similar to the Honda Pilot-based Ridgeline pickup, and means it has a car-like ride, a V6 engine and all-wheel-drive. And it's actually about the same length as the shortest versions of both the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado.

Volkswagen automobile graveyard for recalled cars. Phoyo source- Reuters
Volkswagen automobile graveyard for recalled cars. Phoyo source – Reuters

It's also 2030mm wide and 1844mm high, making it 45mm taller than the Atlas (mostly through a lift in its ground clearance). Volkswagen hasn't just made a compelling pickup in the VW Atlas Tanoak, it's demonstrated that - should it decide to give its utility the green-light - domestic automakers in the U.S. would be right to be apprehensive. Anyway, Volkswagen is probably hinting at the modular MQB platform that underpins this concept. It might seem hard to believe, once you see the Tanoak, but it shares the same underlying architecture as such VW classics as the Golf and Jetta, never mind the bigger Passat.

The Atlas is now VW's second best-selling model. Power is transmitted through an 8-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels via Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive system. There's some off-road tech built into the drivetrain, including an "Active Control" system that lets the driver select from various on- and off-road modes.

With that drivetrain, Volkswagen estimates the Atlas Cross Sport would be able to accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 130 miles per hour.

A novel feature of this pickup is a rail that is mounted on the pickup bed.

Pickups represent about 16 percent of USA auto sales in past year and the best-selling vehicle is Ford Motor's F-Series pickup trucks.

And it would seemingly fit into the German automaker's strategy, shown by the arrival of the Atlas which was very specifically designed with the American market as its top priority. "We want to definitely be a full-line automaker", stated Hinrich Woebcken, one of the Volkswagen executive, informed reporters Tuesday in NY.

China is VW's biggest market; the manufacturer sold over three million vehicles in the country past year alone.

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