FIRE DRILL; Classic Ghia survives a close call

John Godwin poses in his garage with his newly painted Karmann Ghia, which figuratively has traveled a long strange road after a fire in 2019.



VWoA Announces 2022 Taos Lineup; ID.4 Wins World Car of the Year

VW’s nifty compact 175.8-inch long Taos (9.3 inches shorter than a Tiguan) arrives soon in one of three trims:  S, SE and SEL.  VW’s IQ.Drive Safety Suite is a $995 option on S and $895 for the SE, standard on SEL.  It features forward collision warning for the S, (it’s standard on other trims), lane keeping assist and cruise control with stop and go.  On S, it adds a convenience package with a heated steering wheel.

A 158-hp 1.5-liter engine with efficiency tricks hooks up to either an eight-speed automatic (FWD) or seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox (AWD).  4Motion all-wheel-drive is optional on all trims.  Pricing starts at $24,190 (S with FWD) and climbs to $26,235 (S with AWD and heated front seats). Top-spec SEL versions top $35,000.

VW’s Taos likely costs slightly more than rivals sporting standard driver assist.  All Taos models have alloy wheels, though.  Also, the S comes with an 6.5-inch touchscreen MIB (multiple information toolkit).  You must choose SE or SEL to get the MIB3 with 8-inch touchscreen, voice control, wireless phone charging, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. 

All versions get VW’s Digital Cockpit, a video instrument cluster.  Select SEL and that video screen (Pro) grows to 10.25 inches.  Panoramic roofs are available on SE and SEL—$1,200.  Rear suspensions differ:  twist beam (FWD) and multi-link (AWD).  With 184-lb-ft of torque available at less than 2,000 rpm, the Taos should provide brisk performance.  Optional perks such as LED ambient lighting, BeatsAudio and ventilated leather seating surfaces let you raise the bar.  

ID.4 Wins, Beats Toyota Yaris and Honda E for Motoring Award

International journalists from 28 countries picked VW’s ID.4 battery electric vehicle as WCOTY—an award usually presented at the New York Auto Show.  


2021 VW Atlas SEL Basecamp: A La Carte Brawny Poser

Literary critic Susan Sontag wrote the primer on Camp.  She says Camp is relishing in style for style’s sake, deliberately artificial, too much to be real.

VW’s Basecamp treatment (dealer-installed) lets you decide whether you’ll cross the line from camp to Sontag’s Camp, akin to turning Barbie’s Ken into GI’s Joe.  The fee for going Basecamp varies—about $4,500 as tested.  Less for just the Basecamp bumper bits.

Air Design USA dresses the bumper inserts and body cladding with the now cliché mountain/mesa cliche graphics.  VW supplies a new grille flanked by new-smaller IQ.Light (LED matrix) headlamps. Fake exhaust outlets embellish the rear.

For shoes, try:  Fifteen 52’s 17-inch special alloy wheels.  Clad with Continental tires, the Atlas nails everyday driving ease.  There’s better dry-road road sense then you’d expect.

Basecamp is all show, no meaningful mechanical upgrades.   VW recommends a trailer kit, though. Go full Basecamp and you get special fender badges.  As such, the Atlas doesn’t seem as outrageous or corny as Disco-era Camp: opera windows, hood ornaments and padded vinyl roofs.

The 2021 Atlas’ forte is its voluminous interior.  All seven perches in VW’s chariot are adult-sized, although the well-stuffed aft folding chairs are slab-like.  The middle-split row kneels for third-row access.  VW snubs the driver—no overhead grab handle.

From the driver’s throne, notice VW’s newly minted steering wheel, fresh logo and fancy switchgear.  Lots of buttons are gerrymandered into the hub or spokes.  While some are awkwardly shaped, their elevations help you manipulate them by feel.  For toasty hands, click the steering wheel’s heat button.

In SEL trim, you get VW’s Digital Cockpit and other items poached from VW’s passenger cars.  These look out of scale.  But you can configure gauges to suit.

While video Cockpit is chic, the dashboard and door panel inserts are plastic-icky—unacceptable when the MSRP with Basecamp finery tops $50K.  At night, LED ambient lighting, strung from the dashboard into the doors, adds interest.  And VW’s contrasting stitching on seats and door panels lighten the noirish interior.

A knob lets you customize the 4Motion driveline.  Plus, you adjust the ID Drive’s level of intervention—a now mostly standard driver-assist pack.  On a dry highways, the Atlas has nicely weighted steering and some road sense.  Expect modest wind rush, good ride damping but some suspension pounding.  Body roll is obvious.  The Atlas’ size makes tight maneuvers difficult.  Parking aids, in contrast, are helpful.

In the go department, the 3.6-liter V-6 narrow-angle mill mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission is adequate.  It hums pleasantly and eked out 17 mpg during wintry weather.  A start/stop feature reduces idling.

Loading via the easy-open liftgate requires a stretch beyond the bumper.  All aft seats fold flat for generous luggage space.  Should you want to stow and go in a brawny poser, head to your VW dealer for an Atlas.  The parts department has Basecamp accessories.


The VWCA (Volkswagen Club of America) is a not-for-profit hobby club for owners and enthusiasts of Volkswagen and Audi automobiles. Founded in 1955, the Club has followed the evolution of Volkswagen from the early air-cooled Beetle to the latest models to roll off the assembly line. We are not owned by, affiliated with or sponsored by Volkswagen AG or Volkswagen of America, the Importer. The Club is operated and managed solely by volunteer members who contribute their time and energy in pursuit of our motto, "to help Volkswagen and Audi owners enjoy their cars to the fullest." Read about the club's history.



May 22 , 2021
Dog-N-Suds Cruise Night
Dog-N-Suds Drive-In, 454 Center St., Grayslake, IL

Jun 12 , 2021
The 2021 Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Festival Weekend
NEW LOCATION: Briarwood Mall, Ann Arbor, MI

Aug 28 , 2021
NIVA SuperDawg Invasion
SuperDawg Drive-In, 333 S. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, IL