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Volkswagen Atlas Gets More Personal With Smaller, Sportier Concept

29 March 2018

The design of the Atlas Tanoak is separate from the Atlas SUV on which it's based, with only slight similarities between the two cars. The Ford F-150, in particular, was not only the best-selling truck in the American market, but the top-selling vehicle, period, with volume coming to almost double that of the leading SUV, the Toyota RAV-4.

For what is billed as a midsize pickup, the Atlas Tanoak concept is not small - 214.1 inches long, 79.9 inches wide and 72.6 inches tall.

VW has outfitted the concept plug-in hybrid with a choice between E-Mode, Hybrid, GTE, Off-road and Battery Hold/Battery charge modes.

But offering a pickup based on the Atlas platform is the only feasible way VW could attack the pickup truck market in the U.S. The company sells the Amarok overseas.

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The Tanoak concept is 214.1 inches long, making it 15.8 inches longer than the Atlas SUV, placing it in the midsize pickup truck segment according to USA standards.

But there's a big bed in the back, and almost ten inches of ground clearance underneath. The fenders flare atop deeply knurled 20-inch off-road wheels like a lunar rover, while the air vents in the swollen lower bumper gape greedily.

The same exaggerated proportions continue at the rear, with the bed clearly distinct from the double-cab by virtue of a sweeping trim line. Even better, just like cars have offered "ski hatches" that allow pass-through from the trunk to the cabin, the Atlas Tanoak has a hatch behind the cab which allows even longer cargo to run right through. Just like in a Honda Ridgeline, the experience behind the wheel is more auto than utility; where the Honda is stolidly earnest, though, the Atlas Tanoak can take greater liberties.

Beside the V6 hybrid motor, the Cross Sport Concept also features 4Motion Active Control that offers seven different driving profiles: Comfort, Eco, Rocks, Sludge & Sand, Gravel, Sport and Snow.

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A number of thoughtful pickup truck touches are found inside, including a redesigned shifter that's easier to handle while wearing work gloves.

Our biggest frustration, of course, is that VW is insisting that right now it has no production plans for the truck.

The "Sport" in the model's name is justified by the presence of a 355-hp plug-in hybrid powertrain that combines the Atlas' 276-hp 3.6-liter V6 with two electric motors: a front-mounted one that develops 54 hp and 162 lb-ft, and a rear unit that makes 114 hp and 199 lb-ft. You've got the digital cockpit and a 10-inch infotainment system.

It's called the Atlas Cross Sport concept, and it previews a production model that will arrive in the United States in 2019. It might seem hard to believe, once you see the Tanoak, but it shares the same underlying architecture as such VW classics as the Golf and Jetta, never mind the bigger Passat.

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Volkswagen Atlas Gets More Personal With Smaller, Sportier Concept