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 compact crossover segment is red hot, with consumers enjoying more choice in this area than ever before. Every major automaker has a model in this game, with some of them knocking it more out of the park than others. Volkswagen has entered the fray with the new Taos, a trucklet slotting in under the Tiguan both in terms of size and price.
A trio of available trims are on tap, with VW Canada choosing to stick with Euro monikers instead of the American-style mix of letters. In this, we are happy. The entry-level model is called the Trendline, offered with front-wheel drive for the reasonable starting sum of $26,695. This nets buyers a front-wheel drive machine, powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder making about 160 horsepower. Upgrading to all-wheel drive is a $2,500 proposition and replaces the 8-speed automatic with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic while adding a couple of minor driving features like hill descent control and driving profile selection.
Trendline customers will have to make do with a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen (a diagonal measure not much greater than most smartphones these days) and just four speakers for aural enjoyment. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on board but wireless device charging and satellite radio are absent. However, VW’s excellent digital cockpit manifests itself in the form of an 8-inch display ahead of the driver. There are heated fronts seats, air conditioning, and reading lights for all hands.
Thanks to economies of scale, the base Taos get the same snazzy LED head- and taillights as more expensive trims, plus power-adjustable heated side mirrors. Roof rails and some other exterior jewelry are blacked out, but peep the very convenient heated washer nozzles which will make heading to the rink on a frosty January morning all the more pleasant. Tires are a reasonable 17-inches in diameter, meaning financial gymnastics shouldn’t be needed come replacement time. Note the Trendline is only available in a quartet of greyish non-colours, while the more expensive Comfortline reports for duty in an array of interesting paint shades such as Kings Red and Cornflower Blue.
What We’d Choose
If you’re opting for all-wheel drive, the next-level Comfortline makes a good case for itself at just $3,200 more dear than the base trim. For that amount of money, shoppers will trade cloth seating upholstery eats for (fake) leather surfaces, several extra USB ports, wireless phone charging, and a vastly upgraded infotainment system. The latter, in addition to possessing a screen large enough to see without squinting, adds satellite radio and wireless device integration to its bag of tricks. There are a couple of more speakers on board as well.
A further three grand isn’t exactly chump change and will represent roughly $60 more per month on a typical five-year purchase agreement. But the first time you and your front-seat passenger quell an argument about cabin temperature thanks to the Comfortline’s dual-zone climate control, it’s likely you’ll be glad you spent the extra cash.