New Atlas SUV could fast-track Volkswagen’s return to pickup segment

2018 Volkswagen Atlas R-Line
Volkswagen is still looking for a way to return to the lucrative pickup truck segment in the United States after a decadeslong hiatus. The all-new Atlas SUV (pictured) gives the brand the opportunity to build a unibody model aimed right at the award-winning Honda Ridgeline.

Matthias Erb, Volkswagen of North America’s chief engineering officer, told website CarBuzz that the company is exploring the possibility of turning the Atlas into a truck for our market. If launched, the yet-unnamed model would be to the Atlas what the Ridgeline is to the Pilot, meaning the two would share the same stretched version of Volkswagen’s highly modular MQB platform and the same four- and six-cylinder engines. Transforming the Atlas into a truck would be a more cost-effective solution than designing one from scratch.

Erb explained Volkswagen hasn’t completely ruled out selling a more rugged, body-on-frame pickup in the U.S. However, the Wolfsburg-based company wouldn’t build a full-size model designed to fight in the same segment as the Chevrolet Silverado, the Ram 1500, and the Ford F-150. “Body-on-frame trucks are a protected market,” he pointed out.

Another solution for Volkswagen is to engineer the next generation of the Amarok with U.S. regulations in mind, but that looks unlikely to happen. Erb confirmed the current model won’t be sold on our shores — which is hardly a surprise given its age — and he stressed that there are no plans to sell its replacement here, either.

Volkswagen isn’t firmly committed to selling a truck in the U.S.; it’s merely keeping all options on the table. When a final decision will be made hasn’t been revealed yet. If the Atlas does spawn a truck, it will have to fend off competition from the aforementioned Ridgeline and the upcoming production version of the Hyundai Santa Cruz concept.

Product Review

While other crossovers dabble in dirt, Toyota's truck-like RAV4 doubles down

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 gets a clean-sheet redesign, ditching the previous generation’s car-like styling for truck-like toughness. Toyota’s compact crossover also gets more tech and new powertrains.

Startup Rivian exits stealth mode with a bold promise to electrify off-roaders

Electric car startup Rivian has finally turned off stealth mode and provided details about what it's been working on since 2009. It will build battery-powered off-roaders instead of taking on Tesla and others in the luxury EV segment.

Jeep’s outdoorsy Gladiator pickup truck bares it all ahead of schedule

Jeep will introduce the long-promised Wrangler-based pickup truck at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Named Gladiator, the model was designed to conquer the great outdoors, not for the construction site.

Our favorite fuel-efficient cars are as frugal as they are fun

You don't need to opt for a hybrid or an all-electric ride in order to achieve good fuel economy. These vehicles pack both performance and style, whether you're in the market for a luxury sedan or a game-changing pickup truck.

Jaguar’s V2X technology will keep you from getting stuck at red lights

Jaguar wants to make sure you never have to rush through a yellow light again. The carmaker is building tools that will tell you what speed you'll need to drive to avoid getting stuck at a red light.

Drool over Lamborghini’s latest dream machine: The one-off SC18

The Lamborghini SC18 was built by the automaker's Squadra Corse racing department at the request of a customer. Based on the Lamborghini Aventador, it features upgraded aerodynamic aids and reduced weight.

Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn ousted, arrested after whistleblower cries foul

Nissan will oust chairman Carlos Ghosn after an internal investigation revealed he underreported his salary to Japan's financial authorities for years. Greg Kelly, one of Nissan's representative directors, will leave for the same reason.

Tesla owners will soon be able to summon a repair van in a few taps

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted out plans to expand the Tesla mobile app so Tesla owners can request on-demand service for common problems from Tesla Ranger mobile service vehicles in just a few taps.

2019 Crosstrek Hybrid has something no Subaru has ever had

The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid is the Japanese automaker's first production plug-in hybrid vehicle. It will go on sale before the end of the year. Subaru relied on plug-in hybrid tech from Toyota to make the Crosstrek Hybrid a reality.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Nissan turmoil, product designer Jae Yoo of Nerf, and more

For today's episode of Digital Trends Live, we turn our attention to the L.A. Auto Show and Lamborghini's race-ready version of the Urus. We also speak with Jae Yoo of Nerf and MLS defender Zarek Valentin about their origins, modern tech…

Mini’s most extreme hot hatchback will hit the streets in 2020

The Mini John Cooper Works GP concept first seen at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show will go into production in 2020, Mini has confirmed. The John Cooper Works GP is the ultimate performance version of the basic Mini Cooper.

Jaguar can take the next F-Type in one of two completely different directions

Jaguar needs to decide what the future has in store for the F-Type. Its options include turning the next-generation model into an electric car aimed at the Tesla Roadster or pelting it into the ring with a twin-turbocharged V8 from BMW.
Product Review

A Mercedes so sophisticated, it connects to your watch to plan your massage

The mid-size luxury SUV segment is a must-win competition, and the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE is the newest contender. With active suspension, driver assist, and even a connection to your watch, this is more than an SUV, it’s a mobile device.

With lessons learned from racing, Mercedes-AMG takes GT R sports car to next level

Mercedes-AMG keeps finding ways to make its GT sports car even more hardcore. If you thought the GT R variant was as good as it got, get ready for the GT R Pro, which will race into the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show.