Shortly after its introduction in 2017, Volkswagen began exploring the possibilities of the new Atlas SUV, with one of the results the Tanoak dual-cab, short-bed pickup concept introduced at the 2018 New York International Auto Show.
Named after an evergreen tree species indigenous to the Pacific coast between southern Oregon and mid-California, the pickup concept is based on an extended wheelbase version of the Atlas, uses the 276-hp 3.6-litre V-6 linked to an 8-speed automatic to send power to all four wheels using VW’s 4Motion system, and features about 250 mm of ground clearance.
The modular transverse matrix architecture (MQB) is currently used by Volkswagen for products from the sub-compact Polo to the full-sized Atlas, and now goes even larger with the Tanoak concept, which VW has no production plans but wants to gauge public reaction.
The full-sized truck is 5,438 mm long (more than 400 mm longer than Atlas), with most of that manifesting itself in a wheelbase that stretches about 280 mm longer. That’s meant to accommodate a 5-seat cabin and adding on a 5-foot bed.
An innovative feature is a rail “hoop” that is stored behind the cabin and can be slid out to the tailgate to aid in carrying oversized items such as kayaks or extension ladders, and features an integrated LED strip to illuminate the bed as necessary. A full-size spare is placed under the bed for easy access, even when the truck is loaded with bikes, surfboards or ATVs (the latter requiring a dropped tailgate).
The concept features modified styling from Atlas, including a more robust front-end treatment with modified grille and headlights, raised hood, and a new bumper that adds a centrally-located winch and carabiner. Of interest, and strictly a concept “look what we can do” thing, is an animated LED array that encompasses the VW grille-badge and surrounding slats. When a door is opened the badge starts to brighten, spreading out to the headlights and then down to daytime running light “boxes.”
Around the side, rear-door handles are integrated into the door panel just ahead of the cabin/bed gap, presenting the illusion of an extended-cab pickup, side marker lights are integrated into the plastic wheel-arch extensions surrounding the newly designed high-gloss 20-inch wheels.
The sporty presentation is carried on inside with sport seats all around (the rear 3-position bench features individual seats), fully digitalized instrumentation and controls, a robust centre console shifter grip, and ambient lighting that switches between yellow and blue depending on whether the truck is being used in the city or the wilderness.