Volkswagen surprised the New York International Auto Show by showing a concept for a pickup truck based on its new Atlas SUV. The VW Atlas Tanoak is a prototype based on the MQB architecture that underpins the Atlas and according to the German auto maker, the concept is the largest vehicle ever using that platform.

Named after a species of tree that grows on the Pacific Coast, the Tanoak rides on a massive 128.3-inch wheelbase, measures 214.1 inches in overall length, 79.9 inches wide and 72.6 inches tall. It has a wheelbase and overall length that is a respective 11 and 15.8 inches longer than the Atlas SUV on which it is based.  Although characterized as a midsize pickup, the dimensions are closer to those of a full size half-top truck.

The VW Atlas Tanoak has a rugged look with muscular wheel arches capped by matte finished flares. Those wheelhouse accents connect to a lower rocker sill and carry through the rear door edge of the 4-door cabin that seats five. The rear door handle is subtly integrated into that trim piece. The rear tailgate is framed by LED lighting and the lower chrome bumper integrates two large exhaust tips.

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V6 power

Beneath the hood is a transversely mounted 3.6-liter V6 producing 276 horsepower and 276 lb-ft of torque. Output is delivered to all four wheels via an 8-speed transmission and VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. With 9.8 inches of ground clearance, the Tanoak has a two-inch advantage over the Atlas, and is set up for off-roading with 20-inch wheels wearing 275/55 tires. VW says the powertrain will enable the Tanoak to accelerate to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds.

The cargo box on the Tanoak measures 64.1 inches long and can be extended by an additional 26.1 inches when the tailgate is lowered. The walls are 20.9 inches high and the box is 57.1 inches wide (50.4 inches between the wheel wells). VW says the space can carry an ATV or a pair of dirt bikes. There are additional cargo rails amounted to the top of the box sides.

While the Tanoak shares some design elements and structure from the Atlas, the interior has been redesigned to reflect the more rugged mission of the Tanoak. The instruments, center console and steering wheel have been redesigned specifically for the vehicle and a newly designed shifter grip for the automatic transmission along with a control for the all-wheel drive system are specific to the Tanoak.

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Although VW says the Atlas Tanoak is just a concept, it has been looking closely at the U.S. pickup market. It already sells the Amorak in other global markets, but that midsize body-on-frame truck has been deemed not suitable for the U.S. However, an Atlas-based pickup built in VW’s Chattanooga plant seems to be a likely bet, perhaps as early as 2020.

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