Volkswagen Taos Basecamp Edition: The Awesome German 4x4 Concept You Can't Buy

VW Taos 2022 NYIAS 19 photos
Photo: Benny Kirk/ autoevolution
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Volkswagen doesn't often delve into the purpose-built 4x4 off-roader market. At least in the US Domestic market, that is. But every once in a while, VW shows up at a North American Motor Show with something they normally don't bother with.
Last time around in 2019, it was the Atlas Base Camp Concept, a pretty wicked design in its own right that wound up being turned into an official accessories package for the SUV in 2021. For 2022's New York International Auto Show, it's the smaller Taos SUV's turn to get some off-roading attention. Courtesy of VW special design team based in Oxnard, California.

Where there were once soft, subtle angles and lines in the bodywork with the standard Taos, the Base Camp Edition sports large fender flares at all four corners, painted black alloy wheels on chunky all-terrain tires, a tasteful Waimea blue paint color, and a lovely contrasting black hood and a front grille with silver cladding. Even from a brand as inoffensive and soft as VW can feel sometimes, this Taos looks positively mean.

Don't expect to find any run-of-the-mill SUV components underneath the Taos Base Camp concept. You find custom off-roading springs from H&R Special Springs LP, custom Traverse MX wheels by fifteen52, and the aforementioned 225/65, 17-inch Wildpeak A/T tires to complete the transformation both inside and out.

Considering how sunny and bright all of the promotional material made this VW off-roader concept look a degree brighter than normal, the lighting of a mostly glass Jacob K Javits Center had a somewhat paradoxical effect of making the paint take on a deeper, more brilliant shade of blue, somewhat like giant Blue Sapphire on four wheels. Considering there's only one of these known to exist in North America at the moment, the Taos Base Camp is actually significantly rarer than gemstones.

VW Taos Basecamp
Photo: Benny Kirk/ autoevolution
Atop the crystal-gem adjacent exterior bodywork sits a Thule Canyon XT roof basket with integrated off-road LED lighting from Baja Designs. A setup that ties the whole car together the same way a special edition Jeep or Land Rover does on the regular. As with Base Camp Edition VW Concepts of the past, expect key styling end trim-piece elements from this bespoke concept vehicle to wind up as a special dealership accessory package from which Taos buyers can pick and choose from.

Volkswagen's kept the specific details of the powertrain of the Taos Base Camp Edition under wraps, but it's reasonable to suspect that it's based on the 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission that's customary for the Taos in the United States and Canada. All in all, it's a bit of a shame Base Camp edition VW appears to be regulated to mere show car status.

But what the Taos Base Camp does most of all besides show off some wicket VW aftermarket parts is get our noggins jogging about Volkswagen in the consumer off-roader space. Is there enough on display here in New York City this year to justify entering this market in a few years' time? Let's take a look at some of its rivals.

Conveniently sized in between the Toyota Rav 4 and 4-Runner, the Taos traditionally provides a more German alternative to the American domestic and Japanese import SUVs that traditionally dominate the market. In comparison to some titans of the industry like the 4-Runner TRD, Chevy Tahoe Z71, or Ford Explorer Timberline, is there any reason to suspect Volkwagen's Base Camp line has as much appeal?

VW Taos Basecamp
Photo: Benny Kirk/ autoevolution
There's certainly room for debate in that regard, and besides, the Taos is a fair bit smaller than all of those. Perhaps it'd be more pertinent to compare the previous Atlas Base Camp instead, but the point remains. If Volkswagen can provide even a substantial percentage of the same off-roading capability at a reduced price compared to the competition, there's every reason to suspect such a product would, at the very least, be competitive.

But what are your thoughts on Volkswagen off-road 4x4 concept trucks? Would you trust one to be as fun on the trail as a Jeep or a Land Cruiser? Or should they just stick to their guns and not bother with something that may or may not be a wet noodle? Let us know in the comments down below.

Check back soon for more from our coverage of the 2022 New York International Auto Show here on autoevolution.
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