New Atlas Tanoak Pickup Concept Is VW's Love Letter To America

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

The pickup, a derivative of the Atlas large crossover, is expected to be introduced on Wednesday at the NY auto show as a surprise concept alongside a new coupe-styled variant of the Atlas already scheduled for production.

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

Chance of being mass-produced: Done deal.

The five-passenger crossover concept that Volkswagen showed at the NY auto show is called the Atlas Cross Sport.

A production version of the concept already has been confirmed for 2019, and it's part of what Volkswagen calls its "global SUV strategy" to transform its lineup.

Last week, VW said it would invest $340 million to bring the new SUV to market. Another Atlas concept will be unveiled on Wednesday at the NY auto show; in 2020, VW plans to sell a battery-electric SUV patterned after its I.D. Crozz concept. A more mainstream Atlas Cross Sport is seen as a better fit as a sportier two-row SUV for the US than the departed Touareg. The Cross Sport will be the model which will bridge the gap between the standard three-row seating Atlas and the Tiguan. Its crew cab accommodates five passengers.

Most of the Volkswagen SUV concepts that previewed what is now the Volkswagen Atlas seven-seat crossover, on sale today, sported plugs-though no such version emerged into production. Still, VW's keen to make it clear that it's serious about SUVs - and about the potential of its MQB platform to accommodate multiple drivetrain options, among other things - and has made tough EV commitments for the next few years.

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Volkswagen is now presenting - at the New York International Auto Show - two new versions of the Atlas developed for the U.S.: the Atlas Cross Sport1 and the Atlas Tanoak1.

The streamlined body of this auto is linked with a sloping D-pillar and roofline spoiler. Volkswagen said it doesn't yet have plans to put the concept into production, but is using it to gauge potential consumer interest, given the brand's volume aspirations of reaching 5 percent of the USA light-vehicle market within 10 years.

But perhaps the most prominent feature on the Atlas are its LED headlights and daytime running lights that have been integrated on the illuminated front grill.

Ahead of the B-pillar, the Tanoak looks like a ruggedized Atlas - something that, as the giant block "ATLAS" below the grille suggests - VW is making no attempts to hide. There's a touchscreen infotainment system and "Volkswagen Digital Cockpit" screen as well as yellow or blue lighting built into the instrument panel and headliner. 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 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.

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. Shifting for the concept's six-speed automatic is via an electronic toggle shifter.

The 18-kwh battery takes up space in the center tunnel, and supplies 26 miles of all-electric driving range when fully charged. Internal combustion power is routed to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission, and Volkswagen quotes a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds. Alternatively, a mild hybrid version - with a smaller, 2.0 kWh battery - could muster 310 HP and do 0-60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds.

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