Volkswagen has been touting its late-to-the-party mid-size three-row SUV, to be built alongside the Passat in Chattanooga, for years now. A concept version called the CrossBlue first appeared three and a half years ago. But now, it’s finally real, and we’ve just driven a preproduction prototype of the company’s answer to the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Highlander. One reason it has taken so long is that the Tennessee factory had to be expanded and equipped for this North America–focused machine. We also toured the plant where test cars are now being assembled. Full production is expected to start in mid-December, with the SUV appearing in dealerships early in the second quarter of 2017 as a 2018 model.
Problem Solved: How Volkswagen Improved Our 2018 Atlas SE’s Turning Radius, Everyone loves a good mystery. The quagmire of why our long-term Atlas had the turning radius of a Greyhound bus frustrated me from the first time I tried to make a U-turn. Unfortunately, without any. – News from www.motortrend.com –
You’ll notice we haven’t named this SUV yet. That’s because VW has yet to do so. Officials said they have a name in mind and clarified that the SUV will wear a different name in North America, its primary market, than it will in export form. VW said it was negotiating with another automaker on a name; reading between the lines, it could be that the badge they want for our model is an out-of-use trademark.
Built on VW’s MQB platform, the production model retains a character line running the full length of the vehicle above the wheels, but it’s less accentuated than it was on the Cross Coupe GTE concept—a follow-up to the original CrossBlue—that was displayed at the 2015 Detroit auto show. The distinctive line looks better than it did when overstated on the concept and is probably easier to produce for the sheetmetal supplier Gestamp, which is co-located at the Chattanooga industrial park surrounding VW’s factory. The car we drove was camouflaged on both ends, but we saw the complete body-in-white and, briefly, one finished and uncovered vehicle during our factory tour. In stance and dimensions, it resembles the Ford Explorer but with Passat-like details and cues.
Also different from the concept is the D-pillar/liftgate portion, which is more upright, as expected. The liftgate opens conventionally with a release above the license plate, rather than employing a swiveling VW badge as both the release mechanism and handle in the clever manner of the Golf’s hatchback. We couldn’t open the liftgate on our drive because the camo interfered, but it had a power-operated lift mechanism that kicked in when we tried the release. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Manufacturer
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