It’s been almost two years since Volkswagen confirmed plans to build a new 3-row crossover SUV at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
We now have spy shots of some prototypes just months out from the start of production.
The new SUV was first previewed in early 2013 by the CrossBlue concept. The spy shots show that the production version will resemble the handsome concept although many of the finer elements of the design are still heavily camouflaged.
The new SUV represents VW’s attempts to challenge popular, family-oriented 3-row SUVs like the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] Explorer and Toyota Highlander.
Production version of VW’s CrossBlue concept to be built in Chattanooga
To keep costs low, it will be based on a stretched version of VW’s flexible MQB platform found in the smaller Golf and offer affordable, decontented options just like the North American-spec Passat currently in production at the Chattanooga plant. VW fans looking for a plusher ride can look forward to a new generation of the Touareg due out next year.
The standard powertrain will be a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4. Above this will be a 3.6-liter V-6. A diesel engine was planned but has since been canned due to the Volkswagen Group's emissions scandal. Instead, a plug-in hybrid version may be launched to cater to fuel-conscious buyers.
Look for a debut late this year or early next.
The 3-row SUV is just the first in an expanded SUV family at VW. Also in the pipeline are new versions of the Tiguan and Touareg, as well as a subcompact SUV based on the T-Cross Breeze concept, a compact SUV based on the T-Roc concept and twinned with the Audi Q2, and a full-size SUV based on the T-Prime Concept GTE.