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Volkswagen Shows Tarok Concept to See If America Wants a Small Pickup Again

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 4/15/2019 Drew Dorian
a cake made to look like a car: Volkswagen, it seems, is quite interested in entering the lucrative pickup-truck market here in the U.S., and considering sales numbers for trucks, who can blame VW? The company is proceeding deliberately, showing the Tarok compact pickup concept at this year's New York auto show to "gauge market reaction" after having done the same with the larger Atlas Tanoak concept at last year's show. Volkswagen has confirmed that the Tarok is destined for dealer showrooms-but those showrooms will be located in South America.

  • Volkswagen is showing a compact pickup concept at the New York auto show, saying it's exploring the interest level among U.S. buyers.
  • This Tarok concept is already slated for production and will be on sale in South America soon.
  • This is the second pickup-truck concept that Volkswagen has shown at the New York auto show in as many years.

Volkswagen, it seems, is quite interested in entering the lucrative pickup-truck market here in the U.S., and considering sales numbers for trucks, who can blame VW? The company is proceeding deliberately, showing the Tarok compact pickup concept at this year's New York auto show to "gauge market reaction" after having done the same with the larger Atlas Tanoak concept at last year's show. Volkswagen has confirmed that the Tarok is destined for dealer showrooms-but those showrooms will be located in South America.

Volkswagen spokesman Mark Gillies told C/D that VW has "evidence" that some buyers think of pickups as "too big, pricey, and not very fuel efficient, so we want to see what reaction would be to a smaller and more fuel-efficient concept."

a car parked on the side of a road: Volkswagen is showing the Tarok concept pickup truck at this year's New York auto show to "gauge market reaction" and determine if U.S. buyers would be interested in a small pickup truck.© Volkswagen Volkswagen is showing the Tarok concept pickup truck at this year's New York auto show to "gauge market reaction" and determine if U.S. buyers would be interested in a small pickup truck.

Is there room for a smaller, more fuel-efficient, unibody pickup truck here among the larger mid- and full-size trucks currently selling like hotcakes? We think so, especially if it's as stylish and useful as the Tarok concept. The truck's party trick is a reconfigurable cargo bed that can accommodate freight as long as 73.2 inches via a foldable panel behind the Tarok's back seat.

a blue car parked in a parking lot: Volkswagen Tarok concept's reconfigurable bed© Volkswagen Volkswagen Tarok concept's reconfigurable bed

Under the hood of the concept vehicle is a 147-hp turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that's shared with the 10Best award-winning Volkswagen Golf hatchback. In the Tarok, the engine is teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission and drives all four wheels through Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Volkswagen claims a maximum payload rating of 2271 pounds, which compares favorably to the V-6–powered mid-size Chevrolet Colorado and is even better than some versions of the full-size Ford F-150.

The Tarok's cabin is stuffed with goodies, including a digital gauge display, a 9.2-inch infotainment touchscreen, and a removable Bluetooth speaker in the center console. The concept's large glass roof panel lets the sun shine in, and the truck's styling is accented by an aluminum hoop that runs up the body behind the rear doors, around the top of the roof, and down the other side.

a close up of a car: Volkswagen Tarok concept© Volkswagen Volkswagen Tarok concept

It seems to us that VW's prospects for a smaller compact pickup are better than a larger one because the mid- and full-size pickup truck segments are already crowded, and buyers of such vehicles are notoriously brand loyal. Plus, Ford and Hyundai have both confirmed they are working on their own compact trucks, meaning this emerging segment is just heating up. Toyota even got in on the action recently with an April Fools' Day prank when the company released a press release and a Photoshopped image of a Yaris pickup truck.

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