Volkswagen’s midsize pickup is ready to be revealed next month, but this is everything we know and why we think you’ll see it at North American dealers soon.
Volkswagen is gearing up for a new generation of its midsize Amarok pickup. The truck has long been a hit in Europe, South America, and much of the rest of the world, but this time things are a little different. This time, Volkswagen’s Amarok truck looks ready to be sold in America.
Here’s everything we know about the upcoming VW Amarok pickup, why we think it will be offered here, and when we expect to know the rest of the story.
VW Pickups in America
If you’re reading this in America, then the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Volkswagen and pickups is probably the Rabbit Pickup. The subcompact unibody truck was sold here in the 1980s. Those trucks were actually built at VW’s old plant in Westmoreland, Penn., to help avoid the tariffs that keep small foreign-built trucks off our roads.
The Amarok is very much not the Rabbit Pickup. It’s almost not even a Volkswagen, if we’re splitting hares.
Volkswagen Makes Truck Deal With Ford
A few years back, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles — the part of the company that makes the Amarok truck — made a deal with Ford. Some Ford EVs on a VW platform are coming, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.
We’re interested in the truck side of the agreement. The one that has Ford developing the second-generation Amarok for VW, based on the upcoming Ford Ranger pickup that was revealed late last year (and goes on sale elsewhere this summer).
That Ford Ranger truck will be sold in the U.S. and Canada starting in 2023. As the Ford has been designed to meet our safety and emissions standards, the Volkswagen version should easily meet the same rules — especially if it gets a Ford engine instead of a VW unit. Getting emissions compliance with an existing Volkswagen USA powerplant should also be straightforward.
With a shared platform and design, building the Amarok alongside the Ranger at Ford’s Wayne, Mich., plant to avoid import tariffs is now very much on the table.
Of course, that’s not the only strong sign of the Amarok coming Stateside. This one makes it a much stronger case: Volkswagen refiled for trademark protection for the Amarok name in the U.S. in May 2021. That’s just weeks after the Volkswagen and Ford partnership was announced. Would you go to the trouble of getting legal protection for a name you didn’t plan to use? It doesn’t seem likely to us.
2023 VW Amarok Pickup Specs
So what do we know about the Volkswagen Amarok so far? It’s bigger than before, for a start. The Amarok will grow by around 4 inches in length on a wheelbase almost 8 inches longer. It will also be close to 2 inches wider. The new dimensions make it around 211 inches long and 78 inches wide, close to the next-gen Ford Ranger.
Maximum towing capacity is up, too. The total trailering capacity will be 7,716 pounds, up from 6,614. Those are Euro specifications, but if it can tow that much there, we’d expect a similar figure stateside. For comparison, the current U.S. Ranger can tow 7,497 pounds. Payload is very impressive for the segment at 2,646 pounds.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in Europe says the Amarok will have engines from 2.0 L to 3.0 L in displacement. Don’t expect the V6 diesel that will be top of the range in Europe to be sold here, but Ford’s 2.3L four from the current Ranger is a strong possibility. That goes for the 2.7L V6 in the Bronco as well.
We likely won’t see an all-electric Amarok for some time, as VW puts all its 4×4 and pickup EV efforts into reviving the Scout name.
Midsize Truck Gets High-Tech
Amarok will come standard with LED headlamps. Top-spec trucks will get VW’s matrix LED lights that can work around oncoming traffic to avoid glare while maximizing visibility.
This headlight tech has been around for years in Europe but only recently become legal in the U.S. VW says the truck will have 30 different driver assistance features. That’s 20 more than the outgoing model, even if Volkswagen won’t give us the list just yet.
Lastly, but certainly not least, Volkswagen has let us see the Amarok’s shape already. We can see the exterior of the truck quite clearly, even if VW wrapped it in camouflage. It looks sufficiently bold and rugged to please truck buyers here, but it still has plenty of Volkswagen DNA in the lines. Volkswagen UK says that on top of the normal versions, there will be street truck and off-road style trim levels too.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will fully reveal the pickup on July 7. Until then, this is everything we know about the next potential midsize pickup market entrant.