The Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak truck concept made its world debut Wednesday at the New York International Auto Show. Powered by a 276-horsepower V-6 FSI gasoline engine, the Atlas Tanoak uses an efficient eight-speed automatic transmission and the 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system.
Although there are currently no production plans for the Atlas Tanoak, Volkswagen is keen to gauge the reactions of buyers and media, since pickup trucks are one of the biggest volume segments in the U.S., according to the company.
The Atlas Tanoak is built using the MQB architecture. The concept is 214.1-inches long, some 15.8 inches longer than the Atlas, which makes it a large midsize pickup by U.S. standards. The concept vehicle is 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 2 inches compared to the Atlas SUV, yielding ground clearance of 9.8 inches. Designed as a dual-cab, five-seater, the Atlas Tanoak pickup has a cargo bed that is 64.1 inches long, 57.1 wide (50.4 inches between the wheel wells) and 20.9 inches high. This allows for easy transport of cargo such as bikes or surfboards with the tailgate in place, and ATVs and dirt bikes with the tailgate down. The spare wheel is located under the cargo bed, making it accessible even when fully loaded.
A unique feature of this pickup is a rail that is mounted on the pickup bed. Normally, the rail is fixed by the back of the cab, but it can slide the length of the bed and thus doubles as a carrier for things like canoes and ladders.
The Atlas Tanoak concept uses Volkswagen’s 3.6-liter V-6 engine that produces 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. The engine provides power to the wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission and the 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system with Active Control. This lets the driver select from various on- and off-road modes within seconds for optimal grip on dry, wet, slick or unpaved surfaces.
For 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 sprint from zero to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds.
Although the Atlas Tanoak is based on the production SUV, the pickup is completely redesigned. Up to the B-pillar, there are similarities, but the frontal treatment is more rugged, in keeping with a pickup truck’s mission, according to VW.
The headlights and front bumper, using round LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), were redesigned and extend into the side profile.
Additional redesigned elements include the engine hood that is significantly raised in middle; the entire grille unit including LED headlights; and the bumper. Rugged underbody protection that integrates a centrally mounted winch and carabiner are also featured.
Other special design features for the pickup include wheelarch extensions, made from rugged 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 departure from the SUV are the rear fenders, which have more strongly flared surfaces. The cab and bed are painted in ‘Red Earth’.
Typical for a pickup, the back of the Tanoak is defined by its low-hinged tailgate. When opened, the 64.1-inch cargo bed is lengthened by an additional 26.1 inches, effectively extending it to 90.2 inches.
The Atlas Tanoak concept is designed as a spacious five-seater. Sporty, contoured seats are used in front, which offer very good lateral support during tough off-road duty, according to VW. 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, according to VW. Both these screens and the controls for the air conditioning merge to form a digitalized cockpit environment.
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. It was intentionally designed to be very sturdy, so that it can be operated everyday by people who are used to driving a pickup, even while wearing work gloves.
Named after a species of tree that is native to the Pacific Coast in the U.S., the Atlas Tanoak is the first pickup based on Volkswagen’s MQB or modular transverse matrix architecture.