What Is It?
Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE
What's New About This Model?
The Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE concept is a thinly veiled version of the three-row, seven-seat Volkswagen SUV that will begin production in late 2016 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and head to Volkswagen dealer showrooms shortly afterward.
The five-passenger concept is the latest in a trio of Volkswagen teaser vehicles that preview the production VW SUV, a critically important vehicle for the German brand. The production version will target such mainstays as the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder. This is the most important concept version of the as-yet-unnamed SUV, since it previews future Volkswagen SUV exterior design and gives shoppers a look at a new VW cabin featuring more intuitive and easy-to-use controls.
When Does It Go on Sale?
The three-row, seven-seat Volkswagen SUV goes on sale in late 2016 or early 2017.
How Much Does It Cost?
Volkswagen has not announced pricing on its upcoming three-row SUV, but shoppers can expect it to be in line with popular competitors, including the Ford Explorer. The base 2015 Ford Explorer starts at $31,595, including an $895 destination charge.
Why Is This Concept Important?
Volkswagen is remaking the look of its SUVs to better compete in one of the toughest segments in the U.S. The Cross Coupe GTE concept illustrates a new VW design direction that will result in SUVs that are at once sleeker and more aggressive-looking.
The concept has a memorable face that is unmistakably Germanic and Volkswagen-esque. Even though specific design cues cannot be pegged to such popular models as the Volkswagen Beetle, the family resemblance is there.
The concept is 190.8 inches long, 79.9 inches wide and 68.3 inches high, making it a bit smaller than the 2016 Explorer, 2015 Pathfinder and Traverse.
What Kinds of Engines and Transmissions Does It Have?
Volkswagen has withheld details of the production SUV's engine lineup, but it is promising plenty to car shoppers. The future SUV can be offered with conventional gasoline and diesel engines, along with plug-in hybrids, natural-gas powertrains and electric and fuel-cell variants.
The Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE concept is a plug-in hybrid that bundles a 3.6-liter VR6 gasoline engine, two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery. The six-cylinder direct-injection engine delivers 276 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The two electric motors produce 54 hp and 114 hp. Total output of the drive system adds up to 355 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque.
The concept can travel up to 20 miles in electric mode and has a top speed of 130 mph.
Power reaches the ground through an all-wheel-drive system. Transmission details were not disclosed.
VW estimates the Cross Coupe GTE will deliver a fuel economy rating of 70 MPGe.
The GTE designation applies to all Volkswagen models with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
What Unique Feature Does It Offer?
Car shoppers got a look at interactive gesture control during the recent 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. The high-tech feature is a key part of the Cross Coupe GTE Concept and appears to be headed for the production version. The driver and front passenger can manage all infotainment functions using proximity sensors and gesture control. This means that users can swipe over a playlist from some distance away to browse and play tunes, among other things.
How Does the Concept Preview Future VW SUV Cabins?
Car shoppers can look forward to simple and easier-to-use controls. VW is pledging that the interior will be "self-explanatory," which means no more lengthy tutorials at the dealership or scrambling to page through an owner's manual. All functions in the concept are controlled via touchscreen, thus limiting the buttons and knobs in the cabin. The concept has a minimalist look patterned after the German Bauhaus movement, which preached "form follows function."
What Models Will It Compete Against?
2015 Chevrolet Traverse: The stalwart Traverse is a top pick for many families, since it seats up to eight passengers. It also offers decent fuel economy, family-friendly features and great cargo space.
2016 Ford Explorer: The redesigned 2016 Explorer beats the VW SUV into showrooms this summer with a new rugged look, optional new 2.3-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine and high-end Platinum Series.
2015 Nissan Pathfinder: The spunky Pathfinder offers seating for seven and lots of new safety equipment, including a blind-spot warning system on SL and Platinum grades. A comfortable ride and a versatile interior are pluses.
Should You Wait for It?
There are so many great offerings in the midsize SUV segment that there's no reason to hold off scouring showrooms at this point. But you should be aware that big things are coming as Volkswagen hustles to improve its dormant SUV lineup.