Volkswagen unveils concept pickup & is eager to hear what you think


Volkswagen unveiled a midsize concept pickup today at the New York International Auto Show.

The Atlas Tanoak (pronounced tan-oak), named after a tree native to the U.S. Pacific Coast, is a dual-cab short-bed based on VW’s SUV Atlas.

Atlas Tanoak is the first pickup based on VW’s MQB or modular transverse matrix architecture. A 276-hp 3.6-liter V6 FSI gas engine is matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission and the 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system.

While there are no current plans for production, VW is eager for feedback.

2018 VW Atlas2018 VW Atlas

The Tanoak concept is 214.1 inches long, some 15.8 inches longer than its SUV counterpart, which makes it a large midsize pickup by U.S. standards. It’s 79.9 inches wide and 72.6 inches tall, with a wheelbase of 128.3 inches, 11 inches longer than the Atlas seven-seater.

The body of the concept vehicle has been raised nearly two inches higher than the Atlas SUV, providing ground clearance of 9.8 inches. Designed as a five-seater, the Atlas Tanoak has a cargo bed that is 64.1 inches long, 57.1 inches wide (50.4 inches between the wheel wells) and 20.9 inches high.

A unique feature of the pickup is an elevated rail mounted on the bed. Normally, the rail is fixed by the back of the cab, but it can slide the length of the bed and double as a carrier for things like canoes and ladders.

The 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system with Active Control lets the driver select from various on- and off-road modes within seconds for optimal grip on dry, wet, slick or unpaved surfaces. For tougher off-road use, the pickup also has a mode that provides a low-range gear reduction. Either on- or off-road, the Atlas Tanoak rides on newly designed 20-inch wheels that wear 275/55 tires. The vehicle will go from zero to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds.


Although the Atlas Tanoak is based on the Atlas SUV, the pickup is completely redesigned.  Up to the B-pillar, there are similarities, but the frontal treatment is intended to be more rugged. The headlights and front bumper, using round LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), were redesigned and extend into the side profile.

Additional redesigned components include: the engine hood that is significantly raised in middle; the entire grille unit including LED headlights; and the bumper. Underbody protection integrates a centrally mounted winch and carabiner.

The designers worked the Atlas logo into the front end, and integrated an animated lighting display.  When the Atlas Tanoak is opened, the white VW logo gradually brightens. From there, the white light runs over the two crossbars of the grille and into the headlight surrounds. 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.

Other special design features for the pickup include wheelarch extensions, made from plastic that incorporate integrated side marker lights, and high-gloss 20-inch wheels that use contrasting aluminum and black coloring.

The Tanoak takes an entirely different path than the Atlas SUV from the B-pillars back. The rear doors of the dual cab are not very noticeable at first glance, because the handles are integrated into the C-pillars and are barely visible. The dual cab and its window surfaces emphasize the vehicle’s length. Another conspicuous departure from the SUV are the rear fenders, which have more strongly flared surfaces. The cab and bed are painted in ‘Red Earth’.

The Atlas logo is integrated into the tailgate, which also features distinctive wrap-around, animated lighting. Red LED strips on the upper and lower areas of the tailgate transition into three-dimensional LED taillights on the sides. The VW logo is illuminated in white, and there is a white LED stripe in the cargo bed rail, which, when activated, illuminates the cargo bed. The lower part of the rear body is designed both as an underbody shield and a diffuser. Above each exhaust tailpipe sits a rugged towhook.


The Atlas Tanoak concept is designed as a spacious five-seater. Sporty, contoured seats are used in front, which are designed to offer very good lateral support during off-road use. The same applies to the rear seating, with the passengers in the second row sitting on individual seats that match the ergonomic and design quality of the front row.

The instruments, center console, and multifunction steering wheel are heavily redesigned from the Atlas SUV. The majority of functions, including the air conditioning, are operated digitally in the Tanoak. The touchscreen infotainment system is positioned high up for easy operation, almost alongside the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit. Both these screens and the controls for the air conditioning merge to form a digitalized cockpit. Ambient lighting integrated into the instrument panel and the roofline console immerse the interior in yellow or blue light at night, depending on whether the vehicle is in off-road or city mode.

Arranged on the center console between the driver and front passenger are the newly designed shifter grip for the eight-speed automatic transmission and the redesigned 4MOTION with Active Control, with mode selection via a metallic slider.

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