The Ford Ranger-based ute gets reworked styling and a variety of powertrain options.
People often talk about forbidden fruit: vehicles many want but can't import to the United States. The Volkswagen Amarok is a quirky Toyota Tacoma-sized truck sold in other markets, but none prowl our streets other than a few strays driven across the border from Mexico. It's a popular pickup, with over 830,000 sold to date, and it's getting a significant update for its next model year, including a move to Ford Ranger underpinnings.
Volkswagen will offer the new Amarok in five trims: base/Amarok, life, Style, and two VW Commercial models: PanAmerica with off-road features and Aventura with on-road manners. The truck will go on sale late in 2022 in double car configuration, but some markets will get a two-door single cab model. It's also worth noting that even though the Amarok isn't sold here, it's not a completely foreign thought.
Volkswagen's CEO has openly acknowledged his company's shortcomings in the American market and we know VW America wants an electric pickup here, so there's a sliver of a chance the automaker brings the Amarok here to help it gain ground on its rivals.
Volkswagen hasn't shared specs on the new truck yet but said that one gas engine and up to four different diesel mills would be offered, depending on the market. The oil burners will come in either four- or six-cylinder flavors and will range in displacement from 2.0 to 3.0 liters. Rear- or all-wheel drive drivetrains are available. A few years down the line, don't be surprised to see the Amarok (and Ranger) go fully electric.
The previous-generation Amarok borrowed styling elements from other VW products, but the new truck looks to be its own thing. The old model's grille and front fascia looked strikingly similar to the Tiguan, and its body looked just like an Atlas with the cargo cover chopped off.
While the new truck is wearing heavy camouflage in the images VW shared, we can see a new front-end design with a more upright shape and new headlight shapes. Camo hides some of the detail, but the Amarok appears to have picked up new bodywork. Volkswagen says the truck rides on a 175-mm (just under seven inches) longer wheelbase and notes that it's 100-mm (around four inches) longer overall than its predecessor.
The Amarok gets standard LED taillights in the back, and the model name is stamped into the tailgate. The bed is wide and long enough to hold a euro pallet sideways, and VW notes the truck's payload capacity increased to 1.2 tonnes (2,645 pounds) for the new model year. Max towing lands at 3.5 tonnes (7,716 pounds), but only with specific configurations and powertrains.
Interior features include VW's excellent digital cockpit system, which replaces the gauge cluster with a configurable digital screen, and a tablet-style touchscreen infotainment system. Power front seats are available, and the truck offers space for up to five people. The truck also gets 30 driver assist systems, 20 of which are new to the model.