By on April 18, 2019

Image: VW

A Volkswagen concept that’s not really a concept appeared in New York City this week, aimed at gauging the American public’s level of interest in a unibody pickup that leans heavily in the direction of “crossover with a bed.”

While South American customers will soon be able to purchase a VW Tarok, the automaker says the model won’t come here. But something like it might. Unlike the company’s brawny Tanoak concept, a vehicle mimicking the Tarok could be offered at a lower price point, and that’s something that interests VW of America head Scott Keogh.

Speaking to Autoblog on the sidelines of the New York Auto Show, Keogh says  he can see exactly where such a model would fit in the brand’s lineup.

“We can come in with an extremely smart price point,” he said. “I think you could put a vehicle like that in the marketplace for mid-20s with proper engine, proper everything.”

For South American buyers, the only engine available in the Tarok is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder borrowed from the brand’s small car line. Any truck offered in America would need a power boost, and the Atlas, which shares a platform with the Tarok, has the solution — a turbo 2.0-liter and 3.6-liter V6.

While Volkswagen has expressed interest in the midsize pickup space, it has also expressed reservations. The main players are very well established, as well as body-on-frame, and its ranks are growing. Considering VW doesn’t seem interested in offering a rebadged Ford Ranger in this continent, would it be worth it to to develop an extended-platform midsizer like a Tanoak, or keep the Atlas’ wheelbase and try to offer something new at a lower price?

The Atlas starts at $30,895 (before destination) for the vanishingly rare front-drive four-cylinder model, and a model like the Tanoak, boasting an 11-inch wheelbase stretch, would find itself competing directly with similarly priced BOF pickups. Hardly an attractive prospect.

With something like the Tarok, Keogh said, VW wouldn’t just be luring pickup intenders — it might move people out of their modestly priced crossovers and SUVs.

VW’s American arm has more autonomy than in years past, part of the automaker’s move to decentralize its planning and keep on top of regional trends. If Keogh can make a case for a Tarok-like truck, head office is likely to listen. And Keogh is interested.

“We do see a big trend in terms of outdoor enthusiasm,” Keough said. “Do I see more opportunity than I did before? I do.”

[Image: Volkswagen]

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24 Comments on “Volkswagen of America Boss Envisions Getting People Out of SUVs and Into a Pickup...”


  • avatar
    jack4x

    Nothing says success like combining the worst traits of both a crossover and a pickup and ending up with something less than either one.

    How is that working out for the Ridgeline, which is at least built by a brand with a good reputation?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      To me this combines the best traits of the two, not the worst. Crossover length with a six-foot bed and still able to seat 4 (or 5) at need.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Pretty well?

      The current generation Ridgeline sold over 30,000 units last year and is doing about as well this year, so far, per GCBC.

      It’s not going to displace the domestics or Toyota’s “real pickups”, but Honda doesn’t expect it to or care about that.

      (For perspective, that means it’s about on par with the Volvo XC60.

      Which is not exactly a shameful failure, right?)

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        I can’t answer that with any certainty because I don’t know Honda’s sales goals. But it was down 12% in 2018 vs 2017 in a hot market for trucks and midsize trucks in particular.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          While called a ‘mid-sized’ truck, it’s much closer to full size in dimensions, only two inches narrower with a longer ‘standard’ bed.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            Ridgeline: 210″ L x 78.6″ W x 70.2″ H

            Ranger: 210.8″ L x 73.3″ W x 71.5″ H

            F150 Crew/Short: 231.9″ L x 79.9″ W x 77.2″ H

            I guess if width is your only concern, you have a point, but the Ridgeline is pretty clearly a midsize truck in all other respects and competes as such. Also FWIW, the Atlas is 78″ wide and would be 209″ long with an 11″ stretch, so exactly Ridgeline sized. I just don’t think there’s too many people out there clamoring for a unibody truck. Too much has to be sacrificed for very little real world gain.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            For me, width is a big concern. I go places where two full-sized trucks can’t ‘meet’ without both putting their outside tires on the dirt.

  • avatar
    TimK

    It’s a good thing that VW is introducing (at last count) 893 new electric vehicles by 2021. A few of them will surely resemble this pick-em-up concept. BTW I was driving down I-25 and saw the thousands of recalled VW sedans they have parked at an abandoned racetrack. How many years are they going to sit there?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Cheaper to let ’em sit and rust than to recycle them.

    • 0 avatar
      DedBull

      Those cars are being repaired/retrofitted and returned to the market through the dealer auctions, ADESA being one. My mother is driving a 15 Jetta that was retrofitted and we purchased through the dealer auction. They return 20-30 at a time through individual ADESA auctions. I don’t know if the bottleneck is the retrofit parts, the repair time, or lack of technicians. I would estimate thousands have been returned to the market by now, it could be they are cherry picking the best candidates for resale first.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I would love such a vehicle. The problem with the current Ridgeline is that is ugly, not different at all than the Pilot and also very expensive. I owned the previous generation Ridgeline and it was a great vehicle. I never used it for towing but I hauled up to 900-1000lbs for long distances on quite a few ocassions and it was great for that. Also great vehicle for inclement weather.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The Ridgeline is huge by comparison, six to ten inches wider and a good two feet longer. It’s also very expensive and extremely limited in style and color choices.

      I strongly considered the Ridgeline before I bought my Colorado but I couldn’t get past the permanent crew cab and lack of choice–despite the fact that the floor of the back seat was also the flattest and easiest to load of the bunch.

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        The current Ridgeline seems a step back when compared to the previous generation. Seems to be a bit lower to the ground and the back seat not as roomy. I don’t know, may be an optical illusion? The doors in the back don’t swing open wide enough so it is a bit hard to get in. I know it gets better mileage than the previous generation which only got about 17 mpg but..

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I believe this thing could safely qualify as a compact pickup while still offering a 6′ bed and more for flat-pack and lumber loads.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    If VW holds true to form, they’ll make a decision two years from now, and take another four years to bring it to the US market.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    I don’t see Ridgelines at every traffic light. In fact, they are downright rare here in metro Detroit.

    Don’t see FCA chomping at the bit to bring in the Toro either.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “Don’t see FCA chomping at the bit to bring in the Toro either.”
      — They can’t. The Toro is based on the Mitsubishi 200 platform, IIRC.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve203

        “— They can’t. The Toro is based on the Mitsubishi 200 platform, IIRC.”

        Nope, the Toro is built on a stretch version of same platform as the Renegade and Compass. They are all built together in FCA’s new plant in Brazil. That Brazilian plant is also slated to build the stretch, 3 row, version of the Compass, to be branded a Fiat in South America, and a Jeep everywhere else.

        With Melfi slated to start building the Compass for the European market, that would take load off of Toluca, so there would be capacity available to build both the Toro and the 3 row Compass, for the North American market.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Well, that’s news to me. Thanks. Any links to the new Toro?

          • 0 avatar
            Steve203

            “Well, that’s news to me. Thanks. Any links to the new Toro?’

            The Toro pickup has been around since 2016. Wiki has an article on it with dimensions. There is nothing official about the 3 row version of the Compass yet. It is supposed to be unveiled this year.

            The bad thing about the Toro is the tailgate, as it doesn’t have one. It has two doors in the back where the tailgate should be, which open in the center. If you want to carry something longer than the bed, you have to by an extension panel to extend the bed and hold the two doors open.

            This video shows how the cargo box doors open around the 20 second mark.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Unfortunately, the link didn’t come through.

            If I may ask, how old is the video? I remember one from ’15 or ’16 that showed split rear gate and panels that could drop to support and extend the load bed for holding lumber or a bike or two. Was hosted by a rather lovely young woman.

          • 0 avatar
            Steve203

            “If I may ask, how old is the video? I remember one from ’15 or ’16 ”

            Most of the material on the Toro is from 16, because that is when it came out.

            I found one video titled “new Fiat Toro Ranch 2019 pick up” that was posted last August. It’s actually only a series of still photos, but the one of the rear still shows those same two doors. imho, the Toro would fail spectacularly here without a real tailgate.

            The Strada outsells the Toro, and has a real tailgate, but is not available with a crew cab, which would kill it in the US.

            Interestingly, I find renderings and blurbs about a redesigned 2021 Strada that do show a crew cab option, but the Strada has been on a different platform than the Renegade/Compass/Toro. We’ll have to wait and see what they come up with.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Steve203: Maybe not crew cab but certainly an extended cab (shorter bed, too). In many ways, that would be a near-ideal truck for what I wanted but my wife’s wants now demanded a larger truck that I think the Toro could service (if I can convince her that a 24′ travel trailer is far more than we need.)


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