Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we’ll let you know. If not, we’ll recommend one – or the required options – that earns a passing grade.
The crew in Wolfsburg haven’t been shy about introducing wave after wave of crossovers and SUVs to bolster their lineup here in North America. Their latest, called the Taos, is intended to compete in the murderously competitive subcompact segment, populated by the likes of Kia Seltos and Mazda CX-30. Competition is fierce at this end of the pool; will the new Taos sink or swim?
Its entry-level trim is the Trendline, a refreshing change from the random bag of consonants most automakers deploy as trim levels (and, vexingly, actual model names). It sets an opening bid of $26,695 and comes equipped with a 1.5-litre engine making 158 horsepower. At this price point, the Taos is front-wheel drive and funnels its ponies to the road through an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is a $2,500 proposition that also substitutes a seven-speed DSG gearbox in place of the octo-cogger.
Economies of scale, the best friend of Base Camp shoppers, ensure even this cheapest Taos shares LED head- and taillights with far more costly models. Power exterior mirrors are heated, though their black housings are a dead giveaway of your penny-pinching. At least the 17-inch alloy wheels are attractive. A dour colour selection awaits Trendline customers, but they are all no-cost options. One standard feature that sets a base Taos apart from the pack: Its heated washer nozzles that are sure to delight drivers on a cold Canadian morning.
Infotainment is handled by a relatively small 6.5-inch screen; for comparison, the largest iPhone currently has a larger display size. However, the VW head unit does come equipped with wired smartphone integration, Bluetooth, and places to plug-in. Far more impressive is the 8.0-inch VW Digital Cockpit screen ahead of the driver, serving up all manner of detail with rich graphics and a clean interface. Cloth seats are manually adjustable in the Trendline, but they are heated in the front row and there is a centre armrest for kiddos in the back.
What We’d Choose
If you absolutely must have all-wheel drive, it makes sense to pop for the next-rung Comfortline trim. For an extra $3,200, one gets dual-zone climate control, all manner of active safety gear including autonomous emergency braking, and vastly better infotainment. A wider array of paint colours also opens up, including Kings Red and Cornflower Blue.
But that’s for the customers deciding to pop for traction at all four corners. Everyone gets an identical amount of power in the Taos, no matter how much money they spend. This makes the Trendline and its level of standard equipment a compelling option for the rest of us. It’d seem that this entry-level VW crossover is holding its own in a crowded pool and doing a lot more than just treading water.