Could Volkswagen be on the verge of bringing the U.S. Market only Atlas based Tanoak pickup truck to production? They’ve debuted it, dropped not-so-subtle hints that they could produce it, and then, at this weekend’s Monterey Car Week festivities, they tossed the keys to their one-of-one concept to our AutoBlog.com colleagues.
The hotly contested truck segment has been haunting Volkswagen’s dreams. The pickup segment is a strong one, with 2.8 million pickup trucks finding new owners in 2017 in the U.S.
Despite its slick LED external lighting scheme and neato features like an integrated winch and carabiner, the Tanoak concept is rooted in reality — specifically, the Atlas’s MQB platform upon which it’s based. The truck shares essentially the same structure as the SUV from the B-pillar forward.
The Tanoak’s seamless ornamental front and rear lights scream “concept truck,” but the interior combines typical show car cues with some rather terrestrial lower plastic panels plucked directly from an Atlas: Those anchor points are real and could easily be brought to serial production.
Climbing behind the wheel of the Tanoak concept imparts many of the same impressions you get from the driver seat of an Atlas. Sure, the custom displays and controls are miles ahead of what you’d find in any production Volkswagen, with cool-to-the-touch metal switchgear and impossibly buttery leather with a novel braided leather pattern that carries from the dashboard and the seats to the floormats.
But there’s also a familiarity to the greenhouse proportion and palpable similarities to the Atlas that makes this pickup seem entirely attainable, most prominent of which is its sense of heft.
Don’t let its “large midsize” classification fool you: This is a positively massive vehicle with a breadth that seemingly occupies a full freeway lane and an elevated body that sits 2 inches higher than an Atlas, for a total ground clearance of 9.8 inches.
The dual-cab five-seater, with its short-bed configuration, comes in 11 inches longer than the Atlas; not surprising, since Tanoak was named after a species of tree that grows to 135 feet high.
Cargo capacity is a claimed 1,000 kg (or around 2,200 pounds), and towing capacity is estimated at 7,000 pounds. Pull the mechanical gearshift into “D,” and the Tanoak concept’s 276 horsepower VR6 powerplant — same as found in the Atlas — pulls ahead smoothly until it meets its electronically limited speed of 30 mph.
This pricey one-off’s driving dynamics are difficult to gauge at these piddling speeds, especially when constrained to the traffic-clogged 17 Mile Drive. But a few things are readily apparent: The Tanoak feels big from the driver’s seat, and its steering is extremely light, an over-boosted tune that’s likely intended to compensate for the friction created by the high-profile 275/55 tires.
VW’s estimated 0-to-60 mph time of 8.5 seconds seems entirely feasible given the powerplant’s reasonably torquey 266 pound-feet.
Though we didn’t have the opportunity to try them out, the concept also features a pass-through from the payload bay to the passenger compartment and a movable cargo rail that slides across the length of the bed.
Does the World need another pickup truck? Our time with the Tanoak concept wasn’t necessarily about answering that question, though one incident did shed some light about what could make or break the success of this theoretical truck.
When pulled over for some photos, a Tacoma driver stopped and hopped out of his well-worn truck, excitedly asking questions about my borrowed steed. What was it, what was under the hood, and when is it coming? VW spokesperson Martin Hube suggests that, if given the green light, the Tanoak could be produced in as little as two years. But more crucial than the feasibility question is whether Volkswagen’s theoretical production truck will look as dazzling as the concept; the world might not need another truck, but it certainly will want one if it’s as visually striking as this tantalizingly tangible concept.
Source: Autoblog.com, Volkswagen.