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Detroit Auto Show: Volkswagen teases future with Cross Coupe GTE

Volkswagen teased the world Sunday night before the Detroit Auto Show with a look at a all-new concept crossover SUV called the Cross Coupe GTE.

Though this five-seater is a concept for now, VW says its a strong hint at what its production crossovers will look like in the near future. The brand has confirmed that a yet-unnamed seven-passenger crossover will start production for the U.S. market at the end of 2016.

This latest Cross Coupe GTE concept is built on the same platform as that larger production model, and thus could follow in its footsteps, coming to U.S. roads as early as 2017.

“The Cross Coupe GTE is the ambassador of a new design language developed by Volkswagen for the U.S.," Klaus Bischoff, chief designer at Volkswagen, said in a statement announcing the vehicle. “Numerous details hint at how we envision a future production SUV model for North America.”

The GTE concept set to officially debut on Monday at the 2015 North American International Auto Show is technically a plug-in hybrid. But should this model hit production, VW can also fit a traditional gas or diesel engine in it.

Nevertheless, the concept uses a 276-horsepower V-6 engine matched with a pair of electric motors for 355 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel-drive are also included.

Since it’s a plug-in hybrid, VW says the GTE concept can travel up to 20 miles on electric power alone, drawing power from the lithium-ion battery in the center tunnel running through the interior.

The design of the GTE -- inside and out -- is less concept and more production-ready VW said. Its aimed at an upscale audience, similar to fans of the brand’s current Touareg and Tiquan crossovers.

Pay no mind to the Cross Coupe GTE’s odd name. Like the seven passenger model, which debuted in concept form at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show as the CrossBlue, this new GTE concept will undoubtedly be called something else when and if it lands at a VW dealership.

Regardless of what VW calls it, the automaker could use the help. Sales in 2014 were down 10%, and the all-new Golf hatchback was the only model in VW’s entire lineup that saw a sales boost over the previous year. VW can’t get new crossovers onto the market fast enough.

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