A Little Pick Up: A Closer Look at VW’s Tarok Compact Pickup Concept

The front-drive-based pickup has a chance to make it to the U.S.

We recently got a closer look at the Volkswagen Tarok concept at the 2019 New York auto show, and came away impressed with its production levels of finish. Which makes sense, as VW has already confirmed that the compact pickup truck—which originally debuted in São Paulo last November—will be sold in the South American market. It was hauled to the Big Apple to see if more northerly Americans would be receptive to such a vehicle. We crawled over and around it to tease out some of its finer details.

The bed can extend into the cabin. While it's not a new idea—the Chevrolet Avalanche and hilariously overwrought Cadillac Escalade EXT offered the feature in production nearly 20 years ago—the Tarok's bed bulkhead can be folded into the cabin. The rear seats can then be folded down to accommodate a surfboard, a very long sandwich, or whatever. With the tailgate lowered, the available length rises to 100.7 inches.

It would handle like a car. Or a carlike crossover, anyway. The Tarok is based on VW's modular MQB platform, which underpins vehicles as varied as the Arteon, Atlas, Jetta, Polo, and Tiguan. We've found that pretty much everything using these bones drives pretty well, with supple ride quality, and is nicely packaged in terms of interior flexibility and space. We'd expect the same from Tarok if it were to be sold on our shores.

It can off-road. Some. We're not talking about locking diffs here, but the Tarok should at least have be able to conquer light trails and somewhat adverse driving surfaces. The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system offers On-road, Snow, Off-road, and Custom Off-Road programs. They're selectable via a console dial and should serve potential buyers in this segment just fine.

It would still offer some capability. The Tarok is shorter overall than all other trucks sold in the United States, but it can handle a payload on par or better than the competition. VW cites a 2,271-pound figure for its concept, which bests the maximums of the Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado, Nissan Frontier, and Honda Ridgeline. However, Volkswagen didn't provide any towing figures, so we'll have to wait until we have the production model's specs to see where it falls there, but it would presumably be less than the body-on-frame entries.

It's lifestyle ready, if you like lifestyles. Not only does the concept have a multifunction bed, but it also has some features for campers, beachgoers, or other people who do other things that involve being super active, yo. There's a removable Bluetooth speaker in the center console, matte black roof rails to hold a cargo box or grandma, and . . .

It's ready to turn night into day. The Tarok features full-width LED lights across both the front and the back. They impart a modern aesthetic, but if we'd probably rather have actual LED light bars for venturing off the beaten path. The effect looks cool, though.

There's tech inside. Beating most of the other compact pickups in terms of tech, VW's Digital Cockpit serves as the instrument cluster, and is a large, customizable screen for displaying critical vehicle data and infotainment functions. The HVAC controls are digital, too. Figure these to be limited to pricier trims should the Tarok reach American roads.