The Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak is an all-American pickup

Posted March 29, 2018

In addition to a seven-passenger Atlas, which went on sale last year, VW unveiled an all-new 2018 Tiguan SUV last year.

The VW Tanoak-yeah, this is a typically inscrutable Volkswagen name, though with an American connection- is based on the Atlas three-row sport/utility vehicle.

The grille and VW badge are luminated by white light and offer an animated lighting display when the auto is unlocked with light running over the grille and into the LED headlight surrounds, while the badge gradually gets brighter.

Also borrowed from the Atlas is the Tanoak's engine choice.

The Tanoak, named after a species of tree that is native to the United States' Pacific Coast, is 214.1 inches long, some 15.8 inches longer than the Atlas, which makes it a large midsize pickup by USA standards.

The Atlas Tanoak sits 9.8 inches above the ground for better off-road performance while the 20-inch wheels are wrapped in 275/55 tires. VW says that it can easily transport things like bikes or surfboards; with the tailgate lowered, it can haul all-terrain vehicles and small motorcycles.

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.

Ridiculous features: The Atlas Cross Sport stretches the concept of a concept: Nothing is show-car silly beyond maybe the 22-inch wheels that would do nothing for ride quality. Using touchscreens for most major functions like climate control looks good on a concept vehicle, but isn't likely to be used if VW makes the Tanoak.

The truck experiments with five individual seats instead of a rear bench, and the dashboard touchscreen and digital cockpit display control the majority of the vehicle's functions. Under the hood is a production-friendly 276hp 3.6L V-6, but on the concept, it's augmented by two electric motors. It makes 276 horsepower and puts the power down through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels, using full-time 4Motion all-wheel drive. The active LED lighting features are replicated at the rear. There's also a low-range gear reduction for when low, controlled speeds are needed. Sadly, we won't be getting that one, because we have the built-in-the-USA Atlas.

The Chicken Tax is still in effect, of course, so it would take a North American Free Trade Agreement assembly plant, or a few exemptions such as Australia, to build the Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak, which made its debut in concept form at the New York International Auto Show Wednesday. But like other imported pickups, it would be saddled with a 25 percent tariff if VW brought it here.