Volkswagen unveils Atlas Tanoak concept pickup with AWD

Updated Apr 7, 2018

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One year after launching the seven-seat SUV in the U.S., Volkswagen is hoping to turn the successful Atlas platform into a whole family of vehicles. The German automaker thinks one of those new vehicles could be a midsize pickup.

At the recent New York Auto Show, VW unveiled the Atlas Tanoak. At 18 feet long and 73 inches tall, the concept pickup is nearly 16 inches longer and 2 inches taller than the Atlas SUV. Though this truck would fall into the midsize pickup category, it would be one of the larger models (thus its namesake, a Pacific Coast tree that can grow to heights up to 135 feet). The bed is 5 ft., 4 in. long with more than 4 feet of space between the wheel wells. As Jalopnik noted, that places the size of the Tanoak’s bed at “just three inches shorter and 0.2 inches narrower than a short-bed Ford F-150.”

The truck would be powered by a 3.6-liter V6 delivering 276 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque. In addition to being able to reach 60 miles per hour in 8.5 seconds, the Tanoak will offer an eight-speed transmission and VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. Beyond being able to select between on- and off-road conditions for dry, wet, slick or unpaved surfaces, VW says the Tanoak would also feature a low-range gear reduction.



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VW says though the truck would be based on the production Atlas and built on the automaker’s MQB architecture, which it employs to build vehicles of all shapes and sizes, it would be a completely separate design from the SUV.

The automaker says that from the front end up to the B-pillar (the pillar in the frame situated between the front and rear windows) “there are similarities” between the Atlas and Tanoak. However, the Tanoak’s front end, VW says, “is more rugged” and has added unerbody protection. Plus, the Tanoak has new front end styling with redesigned headlights that illuminate the whole grille, and a new front bumper using round LED daytime running lights that extend into the side of the truck.

Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Pickup Truck Concept 8065 2Those headlights are special in another way: they’re animated and tied into the VW logo in the center of the grille.

VW says that when the truck is opened, the VW logo lights up gradually before “white light runs over the two crossbars of the grille and into the headlight surrounds.” But that’s not all! “As soon as activation of the lighting strips has reached the headlights, the LEDs of the two strips in front briefly ‘swipe’ out from the logo and back until the LED headlights and distinctive, narrow, six-sided LED DRLs in the bumper activate.”

Some of these animated lighting tricks can be found on the rear end of the truck as well. The tailgate features an illuminated VW logo and bold red tail lamp strips that cross the grille and wrap around a portion of the back fender toward the front of the truck. Even the cargo bed is illuminated with one of these wrap-around LED strips.

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Adding to the Tanoak’s more truck-like look is a “significantly raised” hood, a center-mounted winch and larger arches above the 20-inch wheels wearing 275/55 tires.

From the B-pillar and back, VW says “the Tanoak takes an entirely different path than the Atlas SUV.” Handles of the rear doors are integrated into the C-pillar and are “barely visible,” while the rear fenders have “more strongly flared surfaces” than the SUV.

To their credit, the Tanoak definitely looks more pickup than SUV, with exterior styling that effectively avoids the confused look of prior SUV/pickup hybrids like the Chevy Avalanche or the Honda Ridgeline. To be frank, the styling alone here is something worth getting excited about. It looks like a Euro truck, sure, but a Euro truck from the future that might just be fun to drive.



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VW says the truck offers spacious seating for five, noting that passengers in the rear have individual seats “that match the ergonomic and design quality” of the front row’s “contoured” seats.

The cab is full of technology as most functions are operated through a touchscreen rather than physical buttons and knobs. However, the 4Motion controls are done via a metallic slider while a shifter grip controls the transmission.

VW says there are no current plans to bring the Tanoak to market, but that it is paying attention to the reception of the concept and is interested in getting customer feedback. Don’t be shocked if this is the VW pickup the U.S. gets after years of rumors.

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