VW's Tanoak bakkie concept is nothing like an Amarok

VW's Tanoak bakkie concept is nothing like an Amarok

VW's Tanoak bakkie concept is nothing like an Amarok

Foreign automakers have failed to make inroads into pickup segment in the United States due to the dominance of the domestics, but given the strong consumer shift to SUVs and pickups a vehicle like the Atlas Tanoak might still be a good idea.

Having hinted for years at bringing a pickup to the USA market, Volkswagen took a step closer to doing exactly that as it unveiled the Atlas Tanoak at the New York International Auto Show today.

The headlamps themselves are different from the seven-seat Atlas, and the daytime running lights match up neatly with the illuminated slats on the grille. The Tanoak has a stretched 128.3-inch wheelbase - 11 inches longer than the Atlas.

The Atlas Tanoak is derived from VW's Atlas SUV albeit with a pickup bed fender flares and higher ground clearance among other changes
The Atlas Tanoak is derived from VW's Atlas SUV albeit with a pickup bed fender flares and higher ground clearance among other changes

A handful of gearheads might now be piping up, "Wait, Volkswagen does build a pickup already", and it's true, it did launch a model in some overseas market, dubbed the Amarok, through its Commercial Vehicles unit back in 2010. Its body is almost two inches higher, providing 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. Its cargo bed, which offers 50.4 inches of width between the wheel wells and 57.1 inches of width overall, is 64.1 inches long (dropping the tailgate lengthens the cargo area by 26.1 inches).

Like the Atlas Cross Sport Concept that debuted on Tuesday, the Atlas Tanoak is part of Volkswagen's vision to build a family of large Atlas vehicles.

VW says that there are no current plans to put the Atlas Tanoak in production, but it is instead using the concept to gauge reactions from buyers.

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The Atlas Cross Sport's dashboard is dominated by three big displays: the 12.3-inch Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, 10.1-inch central touchscreen with proximity sensors and gesture control, and a smaller touchscreen for the climate control settings. The concept is powered by VW's 3.6-liter V-6 with 276 horsepower that flows through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

A second and more powerful electric motor-85 kw (114 hp) and 199 lb-ft-is added between the rear wheels, to provide on-demand all-wheel drive. There's also a selector for the 4Motion Active Control, which offers a number of modes - On-road (Comfort and Eco), Off-road (Rocks, Sludge & Sand and Gravel), Sport and Snow. It's also got taller suspension emphasized by 20-inch wheels wrapped in off-road tires.

Especially if that pickup is built in the U.S., where pickups roam unchallenged at the top end of the sales leader boards.

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The interior is also based on the Atlas but highly digitized in this concept truck. But like other imported pickups, it would be saddled with a 25 percent tariff if VW brought it here.

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