Five-seat VW Atlas Cross Sport concept takes on NYIAS 2018

VW Atlas Cross Sport Concept teases 2019’s 5-seat SUV hybrid

Having hinted for years at bringing a pickup to the USA market, Volkswagen took a step closer to doing exactly that as it unveiled the Atlas Tanoak at the New York International Auto Show today. The company says that 54 percent of its US sales already are being generated by the new-for-2018 Tiguan compact SUV and the current three-row Atlas mid-size family SUV.

The automaker stated the dual-cab, short-bed concept Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak pickup truck could be constructed off the same platform at its Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant, where it constructs the Atlas SUV and Passat auto. Further, it's on a platform that is built here (which helps VW avoid Chicken Tax complications and any forthcoming Trump administration tariffs) and will not require any special hoop-jumping for parts and service considerations.

VW hasn't said exactly what drivetrain will be found inside the production 5-seat Atlas next year, but it's dropping some heavy hints now. Behind the spacious five-passenger interior, the bed is 64 inches long and 57 inches wide. Its dimensions and unibody platform, as opposed to the traditional body-on-frame for pickup trucks, positions the Atlas Tanoak Concept as a midsize pickup akin to the Honda Ridgeline. But VW has struggled for 48 years now to reach new levels of US sales, and with an MQB-based Atlas family in the works in Chattanooga, it might finally be ready to answer President Johnson's Chicken Tax. Combined with a steeper rake to the C-pillars, narrower windows, shorter overhangs, and a Cross Sport-exclusive two-bar grille, the concept looks distinctly sporty.

Officially Volkswagen has no plans for the Atlas Tanoak to make production, but they are keen the gauge the reaction of both buyers and the media. The headlights and front bumper, using round LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), were redesigned and extend into the side profile. Meanwhile, the Atlas Tanoak pickup - with its cargo system - is an ideal choice for driving across America's expansive landscapes.

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The Atlas Cross Sport's dashboard is dominated by three big displays: the 12.3-inch Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, 10.1-inch central touchscreen with proximity sensors and gesture control, and a smaller touchscreen for the climate control settings. The navigation system includes a new three-dimensional view in which the user can set up multiple layers with different information in each view.

The Atlas Tanoak Concept is designed as a dual cab, five-seat configuration with a short bed.

The Atlas Tanoak concept is powered by a 3.6L V6 that generates 276 horsepower and 266 lb-ft. of torque. Shifting for the concept's six-speed automatic is via an electronic toggle shifter. Of course, power is distributed to all four wheels through 4MOTION all-wheel drive. The net output of 355 hp lets the Atlas Cross Sport run to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds, VW claims, and pushes it to a top speed of 130 miles per hour.

Alternatively, the Atlas Cross Sport Concept could also features a mild hybrid powertrain that uses the same setup as before, but with a smaller 2 kWh battery. The pickup concept bears a noticeable resemblance to its three-row Atlas sibling and boasts the model's logo on its rear tailgate.

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