2023 VW Amarok: The Standard for Next-Gen Luxury Utes?
Since the first New VW Amarok (introduced in 2010) stopped production in 2020, VW hasn’t had a true ute in its line-up. That’s about to change. The internet has been abuzz with news about the second-gen Amarok for the past year, and now there’s only a few months to go before it hits the market in Jan-Feb 2023.
For the sake of VW’s marketing team, let’s get one thing out of the way: Luxury ute; Midsize pickup.; ‘Lite’ truck: Call it whatever you want, just don’t make the mistake of calling it a Ranger. While the new Amarok was designed alongside the Ranger and uses Ford’s T6 platform, VW is adamant that it’s a genuine Volkswagen, not a re-branded Ranger. As part of Project Cyclone, VW and Ford have worked in true collaboration on the development of the Amarok over a period of several years. The result? A vehicle with a style and feel all its own, including the high-end touches befitting of a vehicle belonging to the “luxury” category.
Let’s dive into some details!
Basics, Stats and Specs
The New VW Amarok will be available as a single or dual cab, in 5 trim levels: Base, Life, Style, PanAmericana and Aventura. All are designed with off-road capability in mind, with the Aventura (as you might have guessed from the name) being cream-of-the-crop in this respect. Each version gets some higher end touches compared to its lower-end counterparts: Starting at Style you get the new IQ.Light LED matrix headlights, which intelligently adapt to light from other vehicles as well as from street and traffic lights. Go a step up to the PanAmericana and you get a premium eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, leather seat covers, ambient lighting, etc.
Five engine options will be offered, differing slightly in power and torque depending on market:
- 2.0 L single turbo diesel with 110 or 125 kW and 350 or 405 Nm torque
- 2.0 L twin-turbo diesel with 150 or 154 kW and 500 Nm torque
- 3.0 L single turbo diesel with 184 kW and 600 Nm torque
- 3.0 L V6 single turbo diesel with 177 or 184 kW and 600 Nm torque
- 2.3 L single turbo petrol with 222 kW and 452 Nm torque (some markets)
Options for transmission, depending on engine and market, are 6 or 10-speed automatic or 5 or 6-speed manual. All-wheel drive is available in two options: one fixed and one variable, with the option to switch to rear-wheel only for increased torque. All models have a generous 80 L fuel tank.
Rugged and substantial alloy wheels start at 17 inches for the Base and go up to 20 for the Aventura (again adding to its off-road-worthiness).
And of course, you’ll be wanting to know about these specs key to pickups (also depending on engine choice):
Payload: up to 1160 kg
Towing Capacity: up to 3500 kg (braked)
Roof Rack Capacity: 350 kg
So… What’s Changed?
If you’re familiar with the previous Amarok, you might be wondering what’s changed (quite a bit), and what’s been kept the same (not a whole lot, since the new vw Amarok was designed from the ground up).
We’ll start with the dimensions: At 5350 mm — on the long side as pickups go —, the new Amarok has an additional 96 mm in length on its predecessor. The width, at 1910 mm, has been reduced by 34 mm (owing at least partly to dimension taxes). The wheelbase, at 3270 mm, has been extended by 175 mm, making for more legroom. Fording depth for all versions has been increased an impressive 300 mm to 800 mm, giving a nice boost to off-road capability.
Compared to the previous-gen Amarok, it has safety and driver assistance features galore: depending on trim level, over 30 of them, with over 20 of these being new. These include emergency braking assistance, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, lane keeping assistance, front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, semi-autonomous parking, and 2nd row airbags.
Of course there have been some changes when it comes to the dashboard tech. Front and centre is the 10.1 or 12-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen (featuring Ford’s Sync 4 Infotainment system). But, what’s that under the screen? If you’re familiar with the touchscreens in some of the other current Volkswagen vans ehicles, or in the Ford Ranger, you might notice the difference: real buttons! Of course the touchscreen is integral, but thanks to consumer feedback some few key controls (air conditioning, on/off-road switching) can be operated with tried-and-true piano key-style buttons and turning knobs for the new Amarok. Touchscreen haters rejoice!
Behind the wheel is VW’s signature Digital Cockpit with an 8 or 10-inch display. Speaking of the wheel, it’s new-and-improved too.
What’s Unique (and what’s not)
Of course the Amarok has quite a few things in common with its Ranger cousin; they share a roof, windscreen, sides, rear windows, door handles, mirror housing and hardpoints. Unique to the Amarok are the bonnet, fenders, outside door skins, branding (obviously), and most of the interior. You probably don’t want the inside of your Amarok to look like a Ranger, and it doesn’t — the style and quality are exactly what you’d expect from Volkswagen.
All models feature the Ford Sync 4 Infotainment System, but the appearance of the touchscreen has been given a VW-style makeover and the aforementioned real buttons and knobs have been added at the bottom.
The 2023 Amarok has been designed with the future in mind, and the future of vehicles is undeniably electric. This means that while currently no electric or hybrid models have been announced, the platform will work for both PHEV and BEV versions, which could be coming over the next few years. VW plans to sell this version of the Amarok for at least a decade (as they did with its predecessor); the option to go electric could end up being essential to that plan.
So… What does all this add up to?
A luxury ute/pickup that’s a strong contender to be the gold standard in its class. One that’s bound to be a top choice for van leases and rentals, and to be in huge demand here at Swiss Vans over the coming decade.