Volkswagen Tarok: Harbinger of What, Exactly?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
volkswagen tarok harbinger of what exactly

You’ve seen this vehicle on these digital pages before, but Volkswagen now plans to bring its Brazil-bound Tarok unibody pickup to the United States … if only for an appearance at the New York Auto Show.

Yes, the Tarok’s role this week and next is to give U.S. consumers a come-hither look and whisper, “See anything you like, boys? You let me know.” In this case, “me” means VW brass, who have a decision to make.

While Volkswagen is adamant that the Tarok, which rides atop the Atlas’ MQB platform and boasts a similar wheelbase, is not bound for U.S. showrooms, a market-specific model isn’t out of the question.

“Although there are no plans to produce the vehicle for the U.S. market, the Tarok concept is being shown to gauge market reaction for a truly versatile and compact entry-level pickup,” the automaker stated.

VW’s big news last year was the Tanoak concept — an Atlas-based midsizer with an 11-inch wheelbase stretch, aimed at gauging reaction from a truck-loving populace. In the year following, VW failed to pull the trigger on a new entry in the hot, and growing, midsize pickup field. It looks like VW believes a smaller pickup might stand a better chance of success.

Compared to the Tanoak, the smaller Tarok more closely follows the Atlas, with only a fraction of an inch separating the two vehicle’s wheelbases. It sports a four-foot bed, which actually becomes useful after opening the midgate and dropping the tailgate, extending the cargo floor to 6.1 feet. Short overhangs and a metallic, baskethandle C-pillar lends the Tarok a sporty, youthful vibe (note the obligatory surfboard cargo), which just happens to be the market VW’s after. The model goes on sale in South America shortly.

Ground clearance is 9.6 inches, maximum payload capacity is 2,271 pounds, and power is just barely adequate, if that. Keep in mind this truck’s not U.S.-bound, so it makes do with a 147 hp, 1.4-liter four-cylinder. The Jetta’s tiny heart won’t get that surfboard to the beach in record time, that’s for sure.

As it seeks to determine public interest, automaker interest in the currently non-existent American compact truck market is on the rise. While Hyundai’s tempted us for years with its perpetually upcoming Santa Cruz-inspired sport compact, Ford recently got into the game, promising a compact, Focus-based pickup and trademarking the traditionally compact Courier name in the U.S.

Should VW go ahead with a North American-market small pickup, it won’t have the field all to itself.

That said, VW now has a partner that might be able to help. The automaker’s recent alliance with Ford could be called upon to generate a truck for the North American market, Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh said last month.

“We have opportunities to do it ourselves, we have opportunities with Ford. It’s something we are 100 percent investigating,” he said, without mentioning what form the resulting vehicle might take.

[Images: Volkswagen]

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5 of 18 comments
  • JD-Shifty JD-Shifty on Apr 17, 2019

    why would I buy this when I could get ridgeline, tacoma, frontier, etc?

    • See 2 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Apr 18, 2019

      @JD-Shifty I chose a Colorado over a Tacoma. I would probably choose this VW over a Tacoma. This VW comes closest to what I wanted in a smaller truck but I doubt we'll see it in the US--I only wish we would.

  • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Apr 17, 2019

    VWvalanche meets Subie Baja.

  • Redapple2 C2 is the best. C3 next. Then C7 (looking at you jimII).
  • Jeff S Vulpine--True the CAFE rules are for ICE.
  • Gray I grew up in the era of Panther and Fox platforms. If only they developed a good looking two door Conti. The four doors became a cult in their own right. And kept the 351W as a top line option.
  • Vulpine ABSOLUTELY YES!!! Bring back the TRUE compact trucks. The demand for them is far higher than the OEMs want to admit.
  • Brn More likely, with Google having troubles, the money tree isn't as ripe as it once was and cutbacks are needed.I hope the overall industry continues to evolve. When I get the the point I can't easily drive, I would still appreciate the independence that autonomous vehicles can bring.