Volkswagen plans to add two-row versions of its new 2018 Atlas and Tiguan SUVs as a cost-effective way to expand its SUV offerings, says VW's U.S. CEO; right now, both have three rows standard.
Related: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas Review: First Drive
Volkswagen Group of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken told Automotive News (subscription required) that this "doubling up" strategy will let VW grow its large and compact lineup at a relatively low cost. He did not specify when they might appear.
There is plenty of room in price for a two-row, five-seat Atlas between the current three-row, starting at $31,425 (all prices include destination), and the current Tiguan, starting at $26,095. The five-seat Tiguan presumably would slide in under those as VW's least expensive SUV offering.
The new Atlas for the U.S. would get a new look but would not be smaller than the very big current model, Woebcken told Auto News. "We decided the Atlas will get a slightly lower-positioned five-seater, with nice, coupe-ish styling, [but the] same dimensions."
He was less clear regarding the Tiguan direction. He indicated that the new model would "get kind of a little smaller" but still be based on the current-generation U.S. model's long wheelbase (about 110 inches) platform. That apparently means it will not be just a U.S. offering of the two-row, current-generation Tiguan that VW has sold in Europe since 2016. That model is on a shorter, about 105-inch wheelbase, and the U.S.-size Tiguan was introduced there this fall as the Tiguan Allspace.
VW already sells the current U.S. Tiguan with two rows and room for five occupants. While the front-wheel-drive models come standard with three rows and seven seats, the all-wheel-drive models have two rows standard and the third row is a $500 option.
The strategy seems similar to what Hyundai has successfully done with its Santa Fe three-row crossover and Santa Fe Sport two-row model. And Honda is reported to be considering a two-row version of its Pilot SUV. But Woebcken's comments indicate that VW may be planning its new versions in a way more like what GMC did with the redesigned Acadia. GMC created a two-row All Terrain Package that is the same size, but has a sportier seating and cargo area design.
Either new Volkswagen would be based on appealing 2018 designs. The Atlas was the winner of most recent Three-Row SUV Challenge and the Tiguan was the top scorer in our 2017 Compact SUV Challenge.
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