Volkswagen Chattanooga Produces First Midsize SUV Test Body
Future VW Family Hauler Will Hit Market Next Year
Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, assembly plant built its first midsize SUV test body today in preparation for when it hits series production later this year. The body was built to check calibration of the company’s body shop equipment, and it will be passed along through VW’s cadre of tests and research to further develop it for production.
The unnamed SUV will be Volkswagen’s first purpose-built seven-seater, slotting in above the Tiguan crossover in the company’s lineup. Competing with the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot, the unnamed VW will be aimed at the same Teutonophile families that adopted the brand over its Japanese, Korean, and American competitors. Volkswagen says that production will begin late this year, with the first deliveries of the new SUV happening in 2017.
We’ve seen a few of these midsizers before, each wearing camouflage to hide their identities. We don’t know too much about them under the skin, except that they will be of a unibody crossover design. We’d anticipate powertrain choices and architecture to mirror those of the Passat midsize sedan. That means a 3.6L V-6 engine with 280 hp, with potential freeway fuel economy in the mid-20s and optional all-wheel drive. Another likely energy source would be a plug-in hybrid incorporating one of the company’s turbocharged, direct-injected I-4 engines, like the powertrain in the Tiguan Active GTE concept.
If you squint at the above image, which features company executives and Chattanooga body shop employees in front of their new baby, the new Volkswagen SUV will look a lot like the CrossBlue concept from a few years ago. We look forward to seeing its smart new design in suburban garages within the next year, and hopefully its hybrid powertrain can polish Volkswagen’s tarnished reputation.