By on December 26, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas/Tiguan - Image: VW

The first salvo in Volkswagen’s battle to win the hearts and cash of the American populace arrived in the form of two crossovers: the new full-size Atlas and the vastly updated (and enlarged) second-generation Tiguan.

Both models sport three rows of seating, a key strategy for expanding the brand’s sales volume and appeal. Phase Two of the company’s U.S. campaign, however, involves ripping those seats out.

Speaking to Automotive News, Hinrich Woebcken, CEO of Volkswagen’s North American region, said the company plans to offer two-row versions of both models. By splitting both models into two flavors, the automaker hopes to spread a larger sales net in both segments.

“We decided the Atlas will get a slightly lower-positioned five-seater, with nice, coupe-ish styling, [but the] same dimensions,” Woebcken said. Diversifying the Atlas range is something the automaker’s chief technology officer, Matthias Erb, hinted at last year.

The new Tiguan, sporting a wheelbase nearly 11 inches longer than its predecessor, is the long-wheelbase “Allspace” version sold in Europe alongside a shorter twin. Below it, the first-gen Tiguan remains on the company’s U.S. roster as a lower-priced entry-level model. With those rearmost seats gone, expect the larger model to “get kind of a little smaller,” Woebcken claims.

Yes, we’re talking about three Tiguans, though it’s possible the old Tiguan Limited will be a thing of the past by the time the two-row revolution hits. VW tossed an eight-speed automatic into the Limited’s toolkit for 2018 in a bid to keep the model somewhat fresh.

Though Woebcken couldn’t say when exactly we’ll see either the two-row Atlas or slightly smaller Tiguan, earlier this year he claimed 2019 would, like 2017, be an SUV-focused year. A 2020 model, perhaps? The emergence of the two-row Tiguan as a future model potentially sheds light on an earlier claim that the company has a “better idea than the [overseas-only T-Roc] for North America.” Has the automaker decided a new standalone compact model just isn’t worth it in the American market?

Improving U.S. profitability is the company’s top goal, so such a move would make sense. Atlas sales rose to a new monthly high in November, while Tiguan sales, bolstered by the choice of two body sizes, reached a record 6,947 units last month. The model’s on track for its best sales year to date in 2017.

[Images: Volkswagen]

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13 Comments on “Volkswagen’s Short-term Crossover Plan: Get Asses In Seats By Removing Seats...”

  • avatar
    Turbo Is Black Magic

    If only the new Tiguan had a decent engine they would have had another sale. The new Budack cycle 2.0T is a miserable failure of an engine, slow, laggy, and without any perceived gain in MPG’s. Hope they fix it during a mid cycle refresh.

    • 0 avatar

      This plus 100! I was all excited that the new Tiguan would be just a taller roomier gti (I didn’t even want the third row) that I could sell my wife on. You know, like the one the rest of the world gets and loves…

    • 0 avatar

      A TDI option would have been a great to set the Tiguan and the Atlas apart from other makes.

      Too bad VW is their own worst enemy and is now relegated to gas engines and touting electric cars that don’t yet exist.

  • avatar

    I’m interested to see what the two-row Atlas will look like. Hopefully they don’t ruin its handsome good looks with this “coupeish” style treatment they mention.

  • avatar

    Jalopnikification of TTAC has begun.

  • avatar

    These two row CUVs are this era’s personal luxury coupes – a little more style than traditional mainline vehicles. See Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, and throw the Grand Cherokee in for good measure. Hopefully, VW intends to bring the short wheel base Tiguan over from Europe and have an Atlas with distinctive sheet metal, rather than just taking out the third row seats of the current models. The two-row Tiguan is good looking. And something to reduce the scale of the Atlas would improve the aesthetics and position it below the three-row version on the family-mobile ladder.

  • avatar

    There already is a 2-seat version of the new, extended-length Tiguan, as long as you buy one with AWD. For reasons unclear to me, the (uselessly tiny) 3rd row seat is mandatory on FWD models. It now only steals luggage space when folded down compared to a two-row new Tiguan, but also stops the second row seat from sliding as far back.

  • avatar

    If I were VW, I would quickly issue a cease and desist on that title picture. Is VW trying to evoke the spirit of the 80s in these homely designs? Absolutely awful!

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