America has long been denied the Volkswagen pickup sold in other markets, but with the new Atlas Tanoak concept shown at the 2018 New York Auto Show, the German automaker is one step closer to selling a truck on American soil.
Continuing its recent tradition of offering vehicles with incomprehensible names, the tongue-twisting Tanoak is based on an extended-wheelbase Atlas SUV. It measures 214.1-inches long and has very nearly ten full inches of ground clearance. For comparison, the Colorado ZR2 is 212.4 inches from stem to stern and can straddle about nine inches of rocky terra-firma. Wheelbase, you ask? It’s 128.3-inches, only 0.2-inches shorter than the ZR2.
The Atlas Tanoak concept uses Volkswagen’s familiar 3.6-liter V6 engine making 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque hooked to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It should be capable of pushing the truck to 60mph in under nine seconds, according to the company.
Now, before you get too excited, the company says there are currently no production plans for the Atlas Tanoak, but it is keen to gauge the reactions of buyers and media, since pickup trucks are one of the biggest volume segments in the U.S. So if you like what you read about this new truck, leave a comment below and someone from VW might just see it.
VW is touting the flexibility of its MQB platform with the Tanoak, an architecture that was designed to be scaled all the way from subcompact cars to brutish SUVs. That means that this will almost certainly be a unibody pickup. Don’t dismiss it out-of-hand, though, as this VeeDub has a few tricks up its German sleeve.
Designed as a crew-cab five-seater, the Atlas Tanoak pickup has a cargo bed that is 64.1-inches long, 57.1 wide (50.4 inches between the wheel wells) and 20.9-inches high. These measurements will allow righteous surfer dudes to carry their boards to the beach but off-road fans carting ATVs to the trailhead will need to keep the tailgate lowered. There’s a handy movable cargo rail that can extend out of the bed to help carrying long items as well.
One other great detail? The spare wheel is located under the cargo bed where nature intended it to live, making it accessible even when fully loaded. The same cannot be said for the Honda Ridgeline.
VW’s corporate cupboard is rather bare in terms of traditional greasy off-road bits, so the Atlas Tanoak relies on the company’s 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system for traction. Like the Land Rover Discovery and a few other SUVs, the Tanoak deploys a drive-mode tool allowing the driver to select from various on- and off-road modes for optimal grip on different surfaces. This dial and its four different all-wheel-drive modes show up in the Atlas SUV, too.
For gnarlier action, the company says this pickup also has a mode that provides a low-range gear reduction, although the brief was light on further details. The Atlas Tanoak rides on 20-inch wheels wearing 275/55 sized tires that some pencil-necked accountant will surely cost out of production.
While the concept does share styling elements of the Atlas SUV up front, the Tanoak takes a different path than the Atlas SUV from the B-pillars back. The rear doors of the crew cab are tucked into the C-pillars, and its rear fenders are more strongly flared than the SUVs, not to mention the outrageously strong character line whipping in a ‘C’ shape from the bed down to the rear wheel arch. Full-width LED tail lights are a ‘maybe’ for production but sure do look slick on this concept. VW calls the color ‘Red Earth’.
Inside one will find a touchscreen intended to control most of the Tanoak’s functions, including ventilation. VW says they considered “everyday people who are used to driving a pickup while wearing work gloves” when designing the shifter grip and Active Control off-road lever, but I’m not sure how well that’ll work with VW’s Digital Cockpit design. In any event, most buyers of this type of machine will be using it for their ‘active lifestyle’ and not for hauling cattle, so perhaps that’s a moot point.
Speaking of hauling, no mention was made of payload or towing numbers but the Tanoak’s cousin, the Atlas, can handle up to 5000 pounds.
We’ve got two words for you Volkswagen: Build it!