2017 Volkswagen 3-row SUV spy shots

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It’s been almost two years since Volkswagen confirmed plans to build a new three-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 three-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

Production version of VW’s CrossBlue concept to be built in Chattanooga

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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.

It’s not clear what powertrains will be fitted to the SUV but we can expect 4- and 6-cylinder options. The CrossBlue concept came with a hybrid powertrain pairing a 4-cylinder diesel engine and electric motor, though given VW’s current diesel woes perhaps we’ll see a gasoline-electric hybrid setup offered in the production version.

Look for a debut late this year or early next.

Other SUVs VW has in the pipeline include the new Tiguan and Touareg plus production versions of the respective T-Roc and T-Cross Breeze concepts. We could also see some coupe-like versions of the Tiguan and this new three-row SUV, previewed by the respective Cross Coupe GTE and CrossBlue Coupe concepts.

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