2018 Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept
A spur-of-the-moment debut could lead to a production pickupby Kirby Garlitos, on LISTEN 07:58
The Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept wasn’t supposed to appear at the2018 New York Auto Show. But as the story goes, VW execs liked the design study so much it made an 11th-hour decision and brought the Tanoak Concept as a surprise debut. Now that we’ve seen it, we’re glad Volkswagen made the audible because the prototype pickup received such a favorable response that there’s a groundswell of support building on turning the concept car into a full-blown production vehicle. It’s too early to tell if Volkswagen is going to give the people what they want, but don’t be surprised if that light bulb turns on soon.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept
Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept Exterior
Considering that pickups are appreciated as much for their functionality as they are for their design, the Atlas Tanoak Concept checks a lot of backs as far as a functional pickup is concerned.
From a size standpoint, the Atlas Tanoak Concept is big. It measures 214.1 inches long, making it 115.8 inches longer than the Atlas SUV. It’s also around four inches longer than a Honda Ridgeline. Combine that length with a width of 79.9 inches and a height of 72.6 inches and you have a full-fledged mid-size pickup. It also has a 128.3-inch wheelbase, which is 11 inches longer than the Atlas SUV. As far as physicality goes, the Atlas Tanoak Concept isn’t messing around.
Just as important in that equation is the MQB modular platform from which the concept sits on. The versatility of the platform — it’s used on everything between the Volkswagen Polo and the Atlas SUV — allowed Volkswagen to make the most of its size. That’s one of the reasons why the concept has a crew cab, short-bed design that also features 50.4 inches of room between the bed’s wheel wells and a 64.1-inch carbo bed that can extend to 90.2 inches when fully opened. Considering that pickups are appreciated as much for their functionality as they are for their design, the Atlas Tanoak Concept checks a lot of backs as far as a functional pickup is concerned.
Aesthetically, we see a lot of styling cues from the Atlas SUV and the Atlas Cross Sport Concept.
Aesthetically, we see a lot of styling cues from the Atlas SUV and the Atlas Cross Sport Concept. That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that the Tanoak Concept also carries the “Atlas” name. The extended headlights and illuminated VW logo are taken straight out the Cross Sport and overall rugged appearance is accentuated by the bespoke wheel arch extensions that are made from rugged plastic. The wheel arch extensions also incorporate integrated side marker lights, while a rail slides the length of the bed to carry items like ladders and canoes. The concept also rides on a set of 20-inch, high-gloss wheels finished in aluminum.
The rear section of the Atlas Tanoak Concept also provides an example of how top-class visual styling can be integrated into a utility vehicle. The wrap-around, animated taillights provide design consistency with the front section, while the red LED strips on the upper and lower areas of the tailgate create a stunning three-dimensional detail. Don’t expect to see that kind of style transition to a possible production model, but it’s still a great feature in the concept.
Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept Interior
Volkswagen designed this lighting effect to emit either yellow or blue light at night, depending on whether the pickup is driving in City or Off-road mode.
The interior of the Atlas Tanoak Concept is closely related to the Atlas Cross Sport Concept for reasons that are easy to understand. An illuminated bar runs across the length of the dashboard, giving the cabin an ambient feel to it. Volkswagen designed this lighting effect to emit either yellow or blue light at night, depending on whether the pickup is driving in City or Off-road mode.
The layout of the console and center tunnel also draws heavily from the Cross Sport. The infotainment system, for example, sits high up for easy operation, where it’s joined Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit, creating a futuristic digitalized environment you rarely see in production pick-ups today.
Don’t be fooled, though, by the tech savviness of the Atlas Tanoak Concept’s interior. It’s also dripping with premium materials, most notably the fine leather that covers a large surface area in the cabin. The dashboard, steering wheel, and armrest are all dressed up in leather. The fine material also makes an appearance on the seats. Speaking of seats, the interior also has enough space to accommodate five passengers.
Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept Drivetrain
The Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept gets its juices from a 3.6-liter V-6 engine that produces 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque
The Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept gets its juices from a 3.6-liter V-6 engine that produces 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. It’s the same figures the production Atlas SUV has at its disposal so you can guess that the similarities don’t end in the exterior and interior of the concept. All that power is channeled through an eight-speed automatic transmission, which then sends it to all four wheels courtesy of Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.
Seeing as this is a pickup, the Tanoak Concept also comes with a number of off-road modes depending on the road conditions the pickup finds itself in, including one that provides low-range gear reduction. in ideal road conditions, the Tanoak Concept is capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in just 8.5 seconds. The pickup’s top speed wasn’t made available, but we’re pretty sure that it’s not going to beat any supercars anytime soon.
Like a bunt that turned into a home run — ok, that’s technically impossible — the Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept rose from an idea into an actual concept because somebody liked it enough to make that decision.
Fortunately, Volkswagen went with that move because we wouldn’t have seen the Altas Tanoak Concept. By all accounts, the German automaker has not made a decision on the pickup’s production potential. If you’re waiting for one, don’t expect it to happen soon because even Volkswagen of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken isn’t as bullish on the idea as some of you are hoping.
"If you look at this big, very patriotic segment in America, this (large pickup) segment, that is something very difficult if you tried to jump into that business model," he said. "We would never be able to get the business economics together, at least with the volume expectations that we have in mind."
Hopefully, a case can be made for the Atlas Tanoak Concept to get the production green light. It happened before, albeit in different circumstances, so don’t sleep on the thought just yet.
Read our full review on the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas Pickup.
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