Those words hint that Volkswagen is taking the U.S. pickup market slightly more seriously, but it's still entirely non-committal. Last year at this very show, VW showed the Volkswagen Tanoak Concept. That was an Atlas-based midsize pickup concept. Then at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, VW and Ford announced a complex alliance that would involve Ford sharing the Ranger platform with VW, among many other noteworthy things. Volkswagen plans to kick off use of this Ranger platform with the Amarok truck sold in international markets. This truck wouldn't be based on the current Ranger, but rather, the next-gen Ranger that Ford will surely sell in the U.S. Volkswagen, meanwhile, hasn't committed to selling any kind of a truck stateside.
The Tarok concept making its U.S. debut in New York is much smaller than the midsize Ranger-based Volkswagen Amarok to come. Deciphering what VW is trying to do here is the trick, and that's something we'll be trying to learn as we check out this concept on the show floor.
In case you missed the Tarok the first time around, we'll give you a brief refresher. It's an MQB-based unibody truck that only measures 193.5 inches long. As a comparison, the 2019 Ranger comes in at 210.8 inches. Volkswagen dropped in a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes a scrawny 147 horsepower. That's plenty for duty in South America, but no red-blooded American truck buyer would ever take that amount of power seriously. It's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and a permanent 4Motion all-wheel drive system.
Volkswagen's party trick for the Tarok takes a page out of the Chevrolet Avalanche's book. The passenger cabin's rear panel can be folded down with the rear seats to "extend" the bed into the actual cabin of the truck. This turns the four-foot bed into a six-foot bed, as long as you don't need the rear seats and are open to being a little closer to nature. Payload is rated at 2,271 pounds, but Volkswagen doesn't quote a number for towing capacity.
The interior is all modern Volkswagen, as the concept heavily slants toward reality. There's a 9.2-inch infotainment system in the center stack, and VW has its Digital Cockpit placed in the instrument cluster. It's a very modern, Volkswagen-like take on a pickup interior, and we like it.
Unibody pickups don't exactly exist in the U.S. beyond the Honda Ridgeline, but Hyundai is reportedly close to finishing up its unibody truck. If that truck does come to fruition, and is sold here, VW could use its success or failure to make a determination for its North America truck plans. We're hoping to learn more about Volkswagen's intentions for the pickup market here soon, but consider this concept reveal a tepid step in the yes direction for the time being.