By on August 23, 2011

When I was still working for Volkswagen, I blatantly picked up the delegations from Wolfsburg in my Eddie Bauer Expedition when they arrived at JFK. The higher paygrades were already used to it. The lower paygrades inevitably asked: “Why don’t you drive a Touareg?” While bouncing down the Van Wyck, I inevitably shouted “Silence in the third row! The Touareg doesn’t even have a third row. If I had a Touareg, you’d be sitting in a taxi.”

Soon I’d run out of excuses: If Germany’s AUTO BILD and the DetN are correctly informed, then Volkswagen will get a big SUV – big enough for Americans, even for those with a smaller wallet.  

“Volkswagen, which is outpacing the U.S. auto market after launching new cars designed for American drivers, is studying the possibility of adding to its lineup a sport utility vehicle that seats seven,” writes the DetN. Their Christine Tierney heard it from VWoA’s CEO Jonathan Browning, who promised that the bigger SUVW “would cost more than the Tiguan SUV but less than the Touareg, which starts at $44,000.” Thierney thought she had a scoop. But Browning didn’t divulge big secrets.

Two weeks ago, Germany’s usually well informed AUTO BILD said that the new Passat generation, due in 2014, will not just get the usual sedan and wagon. It also will get a coupe, a convertible, and “an SUV – made in USA.” Says AUTO BILD:

“They are thinking about an SUV for 2016. It is supposed to be produced in Chattanooga, based on the US-Passat. On paper, the seven-seater is 5 meters long, longer than the Touareg.”

More room for less money: Even export to Germany would make financial sense, says AUTO BILD. And showed a photoshopped picture of what the bigger truck could look like.

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36 Comments on “VW Is Working On An American-Sized SUV...”


  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Doesn’t the footprint calculation in the new CAFE rules promote making “light” trucks much larger? Our government’s “helping” hand in action!

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      VW clearly needs to nudge itself into the ’75 sq ft or bigger’ footprint bracket for their SUVs if it wants to stay competitive in the US. This is after, not a month ago, VW vehemently opposed the new CAFE regulations.

      I’m sure a lot of non-domestic car companies with smaller SUVs are having discussions about their vehicle’s size footprint right now. A lot of SUVs will probably be made larger to fit into the largest bracket.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      Nothing says “sports” better than a vehicle that seats seven!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    So, I guess you stopped working for VW by the time the Routan showed up?

    • 0 avatar
      Mr Butterfly

      I’m almost willing to bet that Routan may have been the very reason Herr Schmitt stopped working for VW.
      As in “am I working for Chrysler now? No thanks”. Amiright?

      And personally I’d prefer to ride in Touareg’s trunk than in Routan.
      North American VW’s increasing distancing from its Euro-mothership is sad.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I will give the Routan this: it has nice seats. Much nicer seats than any SUV, at any rate.

      • 0 avatar
        TCragg

        I own a Routan, and as much as it offends the VW purist in me (owner of 7 Jettas, 4 Passats, 2 Golfs, 2 cabrios, 1 Eos, and 1 Eurovan over my driving career), it gets the job done. I know it’s a Chrysler, but it drives nicely, is built well, and is the most Volkswagon-ey van out there until they make a real one again. I don’t regret buying it, but then again, I knew what I was getting.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        My boss has a Touareg and I am willing to bet that the trunk is nearly as comfortable as the seats in the thing. Marble and granite are great for counters, not so much for seat cushions.

  • avatar

    I wonder what strange name they’ll call it: The Volkswagen Foofen. Or how about the New Thing?

    John

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    Bertel,
    Your first paragraph is the funniest thing that I have read here for a long time, excellent work (and subtle way to get a message across to the higher-ups)!

  • avatar
    mpresley

    “If I had a Touareg, you’d be sitting in a taxi.”

    That must have really confused the boys from Wolfsburg, as they tried to figure out why they’d be sitting in a C-class if you had been driving a Touareg.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    Will it come with working electric windows as standard? Or will that be a dealer-installed option, one that you can’t get until 1 month past the warranty?

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    I have yet to see a 3-row SUV that didn’t take gymnastics to get to the back. If you really need to seat 7, accept reality & buy a minivan.

    If VW is looking for an unmet consumer demand to fill, they should start with all the people wishing for a TDI Tiguan.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I found the Traverse to be OK to get into the third row but agree that a minivan is the only way to go if you need to fit adults in the third row on a regular basis.

      It makes sense for VW to have a Traverse/Acadia/Explorer competitor since even with higher gas prices that segment has held up well (over 20,000 lambda units for GM alone).

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      I don’t understand why they don’t make 3-row SUV’s and offer 3 doors on each side…is it that difficult? Does it add a ton of weight? Is it too expensive due to nothing sharing a “3 doors on each side”-platform? Will it no pass crash standards?

      Someone must know…

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        It would be pretty complex to engineer, would complicate crash structure and would look kind of strange.

        A better solution might be to make a really big second-row door that would allow nominal access to the third row. Now, that might be an issue in parking lots and such, so you could make the door slide back and forth on a track instead of swing on hinges.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        Imho, not just in parking lots, one LARGE door would be terrible in my 2 car garage…. I don’t think a single, extra-large door is the answer.

      • 0 avatar
        Mr Butterfly

        “you could make the door slide back and forth”
        And that’s how you make a minivan, more or less. Which wouldn’t satisfy those who do actually buy SUVs with 3rd row seats and want something different from minivans. They might be thinking that they are getting something.. ahem.. “sporty” with off-road capabilities, which of course is not normally the case.

        Anyway, as a matter of fact VW already have (or used to have at least) a vehicle that ticks the boxes for comfort, room, some off-road pretense, and doesn’t require contortionist acrobatics to get in the back. The vehicle is (ta-da!) Multivan 4Motion.
        And of course it’s only sold in Europe…
        However I’m not suggesting that north american housewifes would actually be willing to buy one.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    My first thought after looking at the picture was “how do you say blimp in German”…

  • avatar
    Dorian666

    Luftschiff ? as a Zeppelin is too zoomy looking..

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    My guess is that it will be underpowered with the 2.5 l Iron Duke.

    • 0 avatar
      acuraandy

      If by ‘Iron Duke’ (boat-anchor) you mean 2.5L I5, yes, im sure.

      VW is a decade late and a Euro short on this one; at best they will design it, build it, and be shot down by the EPA. Unless of course, they bring the Touareg TDI powertrain into the mix.

      I really don’t see how this makes any business sense with the impending CAFE standards.

  • avatar
    dwight

    Yep, bring on another tank to fill out wonderful roads. I’m tired of these things, nothing but road clutter. And they keep getting uglier and uglier.

  • avatar
    MikeInCanada

    “Silence in the third row!”

    From the people that invented Kindergarten…..

    Just perfect.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    Maybe VW will be giving us what we need (a large format high-top station wagon ala Passat All-Road) instead of what marketing types say we want. (Honda Crosstour) I despise VW with a passion after the way they’ve treated me in the past, but a little genre-bending is not outside the VW skillset, and IF they can push out a competant large format wagony thing and IF they can get a real, workable 3rd row of seating and IF they can get the EPA jojers to poke it with a stick and call it an SUV for mpg purposes, then they MIGHT have a real winner on thier hands.

    Or they may just give us a bigger version of the Honda Crosstour and we can all face-palm another VW boffo move again.

    From my point of view, this is win-win for me.

  • avatar

    Just returned from Germany. I didn’t see many big trucks. In two weeks ONE Q7, maybe 5 X-5, one X3, one Toureg (yes one), one ML Mercedes. All appeared to be diesels.

    The SUV is not a significant market segment in Germany.

    Germans buy turbo-diesel station wagons, as fuel is 6 Euros ($10) per gallon (weak dollar). They don’t buy the huge vehicles we see here.

    Build it in the US and save the shipping costs. Just make sure the GVWR is rated over 6000 lbs so this pig can be tax deducted….

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I’m sure your advice was golden during the SUV crazy 2000’s, Bertel, but are they still good advice today? Is it possible VW would be crashing a party that’s already over? Right now big three-row SUVs are a dying breed. the likes of Ford Expedition and Chevy Suburban. They used to sell like crazy a few years ago, sure, but that party’s apparently over. If a three row SUVs today is going to succeed, they probably have to be like Chevy Traverse, car-based and offering pretty good fuel economy. Something like a Traverse that’s built off the new Passat chassis and offered with VW’s diesel engine might just hit a note. Maybe the 3.0l V6 diesel? That ought to tickle the fancy of those Jetta TDI sportwagon buyers who desire for something bigger. Of course it can’t be priced like a Touareg either. But VW seem to have got it that keen pricing is key in North America.

    • 0 avatar
      hachee

      Isn’t that exactly how he described the future car? This would be a “crossover” SUV in the Highlander/Traverse/etc. vein.

      As much as I hate seeing VW watering everything down, I do see the reason why they’d want to compete in this market. We all know minivans are better at carrying people in 3 rows, but the fact is that there are a lot of people who’d rather have a 3 row “crossover”. We have one, and only use the third row maybe a few times a week, and only for very short drives. I imagine that anyone who really uses the 3 row a lot would buy a minivan.

      Now if they can just make this thing with driving dynamics closer to an old-school VW rather than a nice Camry, I’d get one.

  • avatar
    bigmiles70

    This is better looking than the SUV from VW’s luxury brand.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    If they can out-Traverse the Traverse (no other large wagon has quite the same magic combo of car-like manners, 8 seats and tons of space), I think they’ll be sittin’ pretty.

    They should name it after an obscure wind, like Tehuano (southern Mexico) or Sundowner (Calfornia coast), naturally offer a TDI, and offer as much or more space and versatility as the λ CUVs.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Just make sure the GVWR is rated over 6000 lbs so this pig can be tax deducted….

    how that6000lbs gvwr works?

    Here in Vancouver if reg as 5001 kg then one can be excempted from AIRCARE aka Emission Nazi , it can be a PITA.

    • 0 avatar

      In the US, if it is over 6000 lbs, due to a loophole in our tax code intended for farm vehicles and contractors, it may be deducted at a far greater rate than a “regular car”.

      This is why you see the big fat “luxury trucks” for folks who in a normal world would drive a Caddy, a Lincoln, or E or 7 Class. The Truck is very deductible and the car is not. If you run your own business, the difference is huge, and makes the truck a smarter buy, even factoring in gas consumption (also deductible). That it is environmentally stupid to pay folks to drive way bigger cars than they need is irrelevant.

      I’m just jealous that Acura only put the GVWR of my MDX at 5900. They fixed this in later years, no doubt realizing they lost sales because of it, and adjusting a few hundred pounds on a sticker is trivial. I also find it interesting that often, only the fully optioned up versions of the XC90, and others, get over that magic 6000 lb rating.

      If I recall, you can only take $3000 per year for a car, but $25,000 in the first year for the truck-if you live in a world of pre tax and post tax income, it is really a “no brainer”. There are lists of cars, er, trucks, “that qualify” all over the interwebs.


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