By on April 1, 2016

Volkswagen 3-row SUV Spy Shot Front, Image: © 2016 Spiedbilde/The Truth About Cars

What seems to be a barely disguised Volkswagen SUV has been photographed driving near the automaker’s southern California test facility.

If it is what we think, it’s an important vehicle for the automaker. A three-row SUV has long been part of Volkswagen’s U.S. growth plan, but now it might serve as its survival plan.

Volkswagen 3-row SUV Spy Shot Rear, Volkswagen 3-row SUV Spy Shot Front, Image: © 2016 Spiedbilde/The Truth About Cars

Drawing design cues from the 2013 Crossblue concept, the midsize SUV was green-lit in 2014, and production is planned for the end of 2016 at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee facility. The timeline for deliveries is tentatively set for early 2017.

Even as the costly diesel emissions scandal raged around it, the automaker didn’t take money earmarked for the Chattanooga plant off the table. Having an entry in the lucrative midsize SUV market would have been a boon for Volkswagen before the scandal broke, and is even more important now.

Volkswagen 3-row SUV Spy Shot Front, Image: © 2016 Spiedbilde/The Truth About Cars

The unnamed SUV is expected to seat seven passengers and be similar in size to a Honda Pilot, with power likely coming from a 3.6-liter V6 sourced from the Volkswagen Passat. Earlier speculation about a diesel powerplant has to be taken with a dose of reality now, for obvious reasons.

A gas turbo four-cylinder is another possibility, as is a hybrid setup. With Volkswagen trying to become a leader in electric vehicle development, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a plug-in version to compete with the likes of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

[Image: © 2016 Spiedbilde/The Truth About Cars]

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47 Comments on “Spied: Is This a Three-Row Volkswagen SUV With Barely Anything On?...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’m seeing styling cues that resemble both the Grand Cherokee and the GL / GLS-Class. This should go over well with the large-crossover-buying public.

    I’m curious about the drivetrain, though. Those proportions look more like what you’d see on a longitude-engined vehicle (such as the aforementioned ones) than a transverse-engined one. If indeed it is longitude-engined and can be optioned nicely, it will pretty much negate the need for the Touareg here in the ‘States. Hell, it’ll probably kill the Touareg just by virtue of having a lower starting price and being larger.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      All I see at the front is late model Grand Vitara! Cannot unsee!
      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/28/Suzuki_Grand_Vitara_II_front_20100513.jpg/1280px-Suzuki_Grand_Vitara_II_front_20100513.jpg

      Back is pure GC, you’re right.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      It’s not longitudinal. It’s built on the MQB platform along with the next gen Passat.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Kyree….exactly what I thought when I saw a pic last evening on another site.
      Front and back, except for length, looked like the GC.
      And even more vanilla.

      Not that the look is bad…and its likely more useful.
      But somehow it seems at a loss for anything special.

    • 0 avatar
      lon888

      Lower price? No way. Not VW and the way they like to overprice their vehicles. This will be probably be the most expensive vehicle in its class. Like the Touareg/Tiguan it will only attract the buyers/fanbois who think “German engineering” is superior to any thing domestic or Asian. Also, once fist time VW buyers they get a taste of the unreliability and prick-like attitude of VW dealers they’ll wish they bought a Honda/Hyundai/Kia.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Yes, because one more of these was needed.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Looks very outdated, like something that should of had a major facelift around 08-09. Basically a continuation of the Borrego. Very 3rd world design that is something I no longer expect from even Hyundai.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “Outdated” has always been the German style of cars. I wasn’t a fan in the past, but now that I can barely stand the looks of most anything other than German cars, I really like them.

      BMW has the least offending, soothing lines of any cars, followed by Audi, Porsche, VW, then Merc. Very ’90s/’00s.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Good grief, tough crowd. What, no row of LEDs in the front and no flame sculpting on the sides makes their box look outdated compared to the other maker’s box? This whole category doesn’t interest me whatsoever, but I don’t see the problem (except that just like all the others, it cries out for proper sliding doors).

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    The very blocky nose already seems old, and rather generic. Reminds me of a Chrysler Aspen or Kia Borrego or some other mid ’00s BOF truck. It’s going to take more than simply having a product in this segment for VW to do well, and aside from the Golf, their execution hasn’t been all that stellar as of late.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    It won’t matter much now.

    This year, the volume of Hyundai’s Santa Fe alone will probably be equal to half of all of Volkswagen’s volume in the US.

    This vehicle was a bone thrown to Chattanooga. It might keep one room cool while the rest of the house burns down around it.

  • avatar

    If I don’t look at the wheels, I’d almost say GM

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Well those headlights probably aren’t going to be favored by the IIHS testers…….

  • avatar
    redliner

    VW bought a 2009 Kia Forte, gave it to their designers and told them, “Make dis into za esyouvee for da schwachköpfig Americans.

  • avatar

    Competing with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in what segment exactly?

    Overaged paperweights that I paid down for the FOURTH time on my floorplan?

    Overpriced Midsize Crossover That Require Too Much Explanation for the Average VW/Mitsu Buyer to Understand?

    Things I plug in overnight to go twelve miles on a charge?

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      Its a Skoda? It has their aesthetic.

      I actually dont mind it. Its so conventional its almost a bit sedate, solemn.

      I much prefer it over the big round things.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Does it come with the roll of tape to hold the tow hitch cover on or is that extra?

  • avatar

    Uh, isn’t this April 1st?

  • avatar
    WestoverAndOver

    If this is real, color me shocked. It looks like a 2011 JGC, 2014+ JGC, Kia, and Subaru had a photoshop orgy. And yes, April 1.

  • avatar
    scott25

    As other automotive news outlets have picked up on, it is (badly) disguised as a Grand Cherokee with various tacked on bits on the front and rear to try to escape public notice.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    Now there is a better looking GMC Acadia! Still, if it’s not bullet proof, the designers seem to be saying that the vehicle is more important than the occupants.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    VW needs to work on their value proposition as much as the number if rows in the vehicle.

    When I was a kid, my dad owned several VWs (and drove one) because they were cheap and easy to repair.

    When I drove one for a year, it was neither.

    The Tuareg is way to expensive to be taken seriously. I haven’t even run a Tiguan through a configurator in years, but I remember it being not-as-bad but will bkt competitive.

    If they want to make this vehicle a mass market vehicle, they’ve gotta take on the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander toe to toe. And, even then, it’s not as big ad the RAV4/CRV market.

    Good luck to them! They’ll need it. But maybe they realize that now.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    What you have here is a very well disguised pre-production test mule. The vinyl wrap camo on this thing is pretty well done to disguise it as a GM/Chrysler/Subaru product. There are some obvious VW stling cues in the roof, mirrors, valances, rocker panels and so forth.

    The C to D pillar area is a bit of a mystery. There is something going on with the wrap in that area under what we are told is a window, the bright finish around the windows is different from the doors and the “window” is too flat/planar. Car glass is curved these days… something is being hidden. I think the actual shape of the side rear glass will be different and will include a notch at the rearmost corner because that is current VW design language (see Golf wagon).

    The lower tail lamps are obviously fake because there is a line going through them horizontally.

    The upper tail lamps are obviously shaped differently as there are seams visible through the vinyl wrap in that general area oh and the brake lights when lit don’t look like the stock car inspired lamp stickers.

    The front bumper cover has some secrets under the wrap as there are some shapes beneath the surface on the yellow vehicle.

    The grille doesn’t look like it is anything intended for production.

    The rear bumper at the quarter panels and under the tail lamps looks to have some shapes or padding beneath the wrap to hide something.

  • avatar
    spincycle

    A rebadged Durango, perhaps?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Will soccer moms sigh wistfully and think of their Cabriolet and go buy this noncompetitive thing? Not chance; momma knows the Germans make other, better SUV’s and so do the Japanese.

  • avatar
    derekson

    Looking at it again, I’m pretty sure this is the Škoda version of the 3 row SUV. That grille shape and headlight shape and stuff all look like their design language rather than VW.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    The criticism seems a bit harsh when to me it could be be from almost any manufacturer with a different front fascia, which one might expect on the production model.

  • avatar
    jansob

    Why pay what will surely be a premium price for VWUSA quality, especially for an SUV which will be styled like an especially inoffensive refrigerator, and won’t drive much differently than other SUVs of its class? So many choices that are cheaper, better looking, more reliable, and drive basically the same. Plus it will be sold and maintained by a dwindling number of dealers who don’t seem to think most of their customers deserve to own a VW.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    In this era of Dieselgate, VW should just sell its European vehicles here, at a loss if necessary. The public will understand it is getting decent stuff, and VW can then weather the storm that way.

    Instead, it is trying to sell some 90s Chrysler style product. It is predictable that that won’t fly.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Obviously it not production spec, but VW sure isn’t swinging for the fences on styling lately. Drivers wanted for the new Volkswagen Frumpebarge.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    This thing looks pretty bad. Thankfully the new Tiguan is way more relevant to my (and most people as evidenced by its competitors’ top 20 sales positions) interests


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