NYIAS 2018 – Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept Offers Pickup Flavor in Unibody Form
Midsizer Could Presage a Production Rival to the Honda Ridgeline
Volkswagen surprised the 2018 New York International Auto Show crowd with the Atlas Tanoak concept, a pickup version of the midsize family SUV. Based on the same MQB platform as the Atlas but with a longer wheelbase, the Tanoak concept is 214.1 inches long and boasts about 10 inches of ground clearance for improved off-road capability and cargo capacity.
The Tanoak borrows much of its running gear from the production Atlas, starting with a 3.6L V-6 producing 276 hp and an eight-speed automatic transmission with 4MOTION all-wheel drive. Driver-selectable terrain modes customize throttle, traction control, and suspension settings for a variety of surfaces, and surprisingly, the all-wheel-drive system incorporates a selectable low-range gear reducer for better traction in slick conditions. At 15.8 inches longer than the Atlas SUV and with a 128.3-inch wheelbase, the Tanoak is the largest vehicle ever to be based on the MQB architecture, proving its versatility.
Exterior styling is similar to the Atlas SUV from the B-pillar forward, although the Tanoak does get a more rugged front design in keeping with its mission as an off-road–friendly pickup. New headlights with round LED accent lamps extend into the side profile for pickup-unique styling. The hood gets a muscular power dome, and there’s underbody protection and a front-mounted winch for off-road adventures. The front end graphic is much more aggressive, befitting the truck's concept-vehicle status. But still, we hope a possible production version retains the Tanoak concept's distinctive styling.
Totally new rear doors get handles hidden cleverly in the C-pillar. The bed’s wheel arches also get aggressive new flares that set the truck apart from its SUV base. A wide tailgate opens up to a surprisingly large cargo box.
The cargo box is 64.1 inches long, eclipsing that of the Chevrolet Colorado crew cab short box, Toyota Tacoma Double Cab, Nissan Frontier crew cab, and Honda Ridgeline. The Atlas Tanoak’s box is 20.9 inches deep and 50.4 inches wide between the wheel arches, comparing favorably with those pickups.
Interior space for the crew cab pickup is impressive, with five comfortable, individual seats for passengers. Like the Atlas Cross Sport concept, the interior design takes much of its inspiration from the production Atlas SUV, but there’s loads of concept-spec technology, such as touchscreen HVAC operation and the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit instrument cluster.
Volkswagen says the Tanoak concept is meant to gauge the market’s interest in a unibody pickup, although the company currently has no plans to put the concept into production. Obviously, that might change if the public’s reaction to the Tanoak is enthusiastically positive, and given the midsize truck market’s robustness and profitability, we definitely see a future for an Atlas-based pickup.