That's not to say it's a small SUV, mind. It's 11 inches longer than the seven-passenger Atlas SUV and rides two inches higher off the ground.
But perhaps the most prominent feature on the Atlas are its LED headlights and daytime running lights that have been integrated on the illuminated front grill. The automaker has gradually been increasing the amount of exterior lighting it has been building into its recent cars and concepts, but the Atlas Tanoak pushes that to even greater levels.
Design-wise, the Atlas Cross Sport looks more dynamic than the seven-seat Atlas, thanks to a sportier stance, sleekly raked C-pillars, as well as short overhangs. There's a contrasting spoiler with black side fins.
At the rear, LED taillights sit above an aluminum accent trim line, while another aluminum trim piece extends across the bumper and continues into exaggerated tailpipe surrounds that mirror the taillights. It also dwarfs the 167.5-inch VW Golf.
VW also touts the Tanoak's digital instruments and controls, and what it calls "sport seating".
A lower touchscreen handles HVAC controls, along with seat heating and ventilation. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and 4Motion all-wheel drive. Dedicated buttons for ESC, E-Mode, and GTE-Mode are also included. And, back in the 1980s it had an El Camino-like model, based on the original VW Rabbit, on sale in the U.S. But that pint-sized, underpowered model didn't last long and few cared as it slipped into oblivion. The full plug-in hybrid powertrain on the concept is the V6 along with two electric motors: a 54-hp one up front, and a 114-hp one in the rear.
Where this theory runs into trouble is with the same Volkswagen customers who have long wanted such a pickup, as the midsize truck's diesel powertrain and (relatively, mind you) smaller dimensions were seen as selling points.
Energy used to power the electric motors is stowed in an 18.0kWh lithium-ion battery mounted within the floor of the luggage compartment. Why go through the effort of making a pickup truck concept that won't likely enter production?
The automaker also points out that because the concept is built on the MQB platform, it is compatible with a wide variety of drive systems, and that fitting the concept with a mild hybrid powertrain using the same engine and electric motors, but powered by a smaller 2-kWh battery, would result in a vehicle producing 310 hp and capable of accelerating to 60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds, with the same 130-mph top speed.