Automobile

Taos Basecamp turns VW’s smallest crossover into rugged adventure rig


After gearing up an Atlas for off-the-grid camping in 2019, Volkswagen is keeping the rugged theme going with a concept named Taos Basecamp that gives its smallest crossover more off-road prowess. Some of the modifications are purely visual, but suspension upgrades let adventurers make the most of the available all-wheel-drive system.

Designers in Volkswagen’s California studio started by painting the Taos in Waimea Blue with contrasting black paint on the front end, on the hood, and on the roof as well as a handful of orange accents. They also added a sprinkling of Basecamp-specific exterior emblems and graphics plus protective skid plate-like trim on the bottom of the doors.

Actual skid plates shield the front and rear parts of the underbody, according to Volkswagen, but a suspension lift sourced from H&R Special Springs helps ensure they won’t come in contact with rocks and other obstacles as soon as the Taos leaves the pavement. Meaty tires wrapped around 17-inch wheels give the crossover more grip.

Fender flares bring a finishing touch to the outdoorsy look, while Thule provided a roof basket with integrated LED lights manufactured by Baja Designs. Inside, the biggest change is a custom cargo divider. Volkswagen notes the concept also inaugurates a frameless, Bluetooth-enabled rear-view mirror, though photos are not available.

Volkswagen hasn’t published technical specifications, but the only engine offered on the regular-production Taos is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder, and nothing suggests there’s something else under the hood. It produces 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, and it presumably spins the four wheels via the usual seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is the standard configuration, but the layout wouldn’t be suited to a build like this.

There’s no need to speculate about what’s next for the Taos Basecamp concept. Volkswagen explained the crossover is a preview of an accessories package it will make available to buyers in the coming months. The bundle will include fender flares, skid plate-like trim pieces for the lower doors and a badge attached to the grille.

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