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Volkswagen Atlas Sport Promises Big Things

29 March 2018

Volkswagen, over the years, has certainly taken its learnings seriously.

While that's just a show vehicle for now, the big question is whether it signals the automaker's intent on getting back into the truck game for the first time in decades. Based on the Atlas MQB platform, the pickup looks more like it's ready for adventure than hauling hay and tools.

It's not Volkswagen's first pickup, though, with the first-generation Touareg originally previewed in 2000 with the Advanced Activity Vehicle concept. Its crew cab accommodates five passengers.

Ridiculous features: The Atlas Cross Sport stretches the concept of a concept: Nothing is show-car silly beyond maybe the 22-inch wheels that would do nothing for ride quality.

The main departure between the two Volkswagen SUV models is evident at the rear; the Atlas Cross Sport receives a more heavily plunging roofline than the existing Atlas SUV. Meanwhile, the interior caters to the fans of technology and luxury that enjoy the feeling of being pampered after a long day of experiencing the many splendors of the American outdoors.

At 214.1 inches long, 15.8 inches longer than the Atlas, the Atlas Tanoak concept is a large midsize pickup. And it's actually about the same length as the shortest versions of both the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado.

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Ground clearance is 9.8 inches, which is on par or better than a number of traditional body-on-frame pickups. Both vehicles share the same wheelbase because they are riding on Volkswagen's modular MQB platform.

If anything, at least it gives me a nice gallery to run every time I write a story reminding you that, no, Volkswagen will not be bringing a pickup truck to the U.S. anytime soon.

In Europe these days, it's all but de rigeur to fit auto-show concept vehicles with plug-in hybrid powertrains.

The engine is carried over from the Atlas; it's a 276 hp, 266 lb-ft 3.6-liter V6 mated to an eight-speed auto transmission. That lets a driver shift between a variety of different on- and off-road modes. VW claims the Tanoak is capable of a 0-60mph in 8.5 seconds. That means crossovers, SUVs and - trickiest of all to pull off, but potentially a goldmine - pickup trucks. If you want to appeal to truckers, stick with the classics. In fact, the tax is the main reason we don't get VW's Amarok pickup truck here. Some might counter: why wouldn't it. Turns out Volkswagen thinks otherwise, because at this year's New York Auto Show, which opens its doors to the public this Friday, the carmaker plans on unveiling yet another one.

Pickups accounted for about 16 percent of USA auto sales in 2017 and the best-selling vehicle is Ford Motor Co's F-Series pickup trucks.

We knew that Volkswagen design studies usually stay pretty close to the finished project, but there hasn't been one specially made for the American market in a long time.

Volkswagen Atlas Sport Promises Big Things