What It Is: Volkswagen’s extremely late admittance to the lucrative three-row family-crossover segment, first confirmed for production 24 months ago. (The vehicle is bandied about within VW since 2011, along with the segment has been in existence for at least 10 years.) For now, the SUV is nameless, although several concepts previewing it manipulate variations of Cross Blue, Cross Coupe, as well as other crossed-up monikers.But wait, you will be thinking—couldn’t this be some sort of Jeep Grand Cherokee–based mystery prototype? Look closer at these photos. Those taillights are stickers meant to look like a Jeep’s real-life units, whilst the front end’s made-up X-shaped badge and hollow, unadorned grille opening are also visual tricks made to throw off onlookers.
Why It Matters: Already years late towards the money-printing game of selling large crossovers to family types, Volkswagen desperately needs to profit while also moving past its diesel-emissions scandal. This three-row crossover should help tackle both objectives. The vehicle can also give Volkswagen buyers an in-house option when it’s time to graduate from a Golf hatchback or even a Tiguan compact crossover.
Platform: The VW crossover use a large version in the MQB modular architecture that underpins cars such as Golf, the next-generation Tiguan, as well as some Audi products. The wheelbase will measure 117.3 inches, or 3.4 inches more than that on the two-row-only Volkswagen Touareg. While some three-row crossovers can be shown bulbous and ungainly, the Volkswagen joins the ranks of Honda’s Pilot and Kia’s Sorento for the more pleasantly proportioned side in the segment.
Of course, not anything you see for this prototype is production-spec, even though the bulging fenders, sharp horizontal crease running down each body side, minimizing fascia styling look final—and a lot like last year’s Cross Coupe GTE concept. (That concept, we’re told, directly previews this vehicle.) Underneath the taillight dressing, we are able to make out faint echoes in the Cross Coupe GTE’s taillight design, too. The grille is obviously prototype; we suspect the rig’s actual face will resemble the full-width grille around the GTE concept.
Powertrain: In spite in the range of high-tech hybridized powertrains how the concept versions were shown with, seek out Volkswagen and keep the production model simple. This means a V-6 engine, possibly VW’s corporate 3.6-liter V-6 that has a six-speed automatic transmission. A plug-in-hybrid powertrain could join the V-6 later, and naturally the choice of front- or all-wheel drive (4Motion, in VW-speak) will probably be offered.
Competition: Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander.
2018 Volkswagen Three-Row Crossover Release date and Price:
Volkswagen will provide the three-row to advertise in early 2017, and now we suspect pricing will commence in the low-$30,000 range and rise after that. Unlike Volkswagen’s other large-ish SUV, the Touareg, the three-row will likely be built in Tennessee (the Touareg arises from Europe which is the luxury model in VW’s crossover lineup) and are going to be positioned as being a mainstream offering.