Off-Roading

As the 2019 Baja 1000 is about to start, Volkswagen announces 2020 entry

Volkswagen is taking its new Atlas Cross to Baja in 2020.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Race entrants and crews are heading down to Ensenada this week to take part in the annual Baja 1000 off road race. Volkswagen is already planning for next year, announcing that their Atlas Cross Sport R prototype race truck will compete in the 2020 Baja 1000.

The Class 7 Open Production Unlimited competition model was developed in conjunction with racer Tanner Foust and Rhys Millen. It is currently in the final stages of development and testing.

Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport R 2020 Baja 1000 The model was co-developed by Volkswagen, Tanner Foust, and Rhys Millen.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"Racing as a sport has historically been limited to a very privileged group," said Saad Chehab, Senior Vice President, VW Brand Marketing. "However, Volkswagens competed at the very beginning of Baja racing, and we're excited to help keep the fun, youthful spirit of the competition alive by way of our Atlas Cross Sport R."

The model will get power from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that was first developed by Volkswagen Motorsport for use in its WRC and Rallycross programs. It can achieve 600 horsepower but has been detuned to get around 480 horsepower for the unique challenge of desert racing.

Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport R 2020 Baja 1000 The SUV has been heavily modified for the challenge of desert racing.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Foust, the 2019 ARX Rallycross champion, will be one of the drivers in next year's race. "I know what this combination of engine and drivetrain is capable of," he said. "I'm really excited to see this bit of Beetle DNA live on in the Atlas Cross Sport R and am itching to get behind the wheel."

The vehicle's livery will be crowdsourced. Volkswagen will be inviting designers from schools and colleges nationwide to participate in the design process with a competition that will be announced in early 2020.

Volkswagen will partner with The Conservation Fund to plant more than 1,000 trees for every mile raced during the 2020 Baja 1000.

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The 2022 Volkswagen Taos is the newest member of the compact SUV segment.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The 2022 Volkswagen Taos, the Tiguan's little brother, has been revealed. The model is a compact SUV designed to go head-to-head with the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, and Honda CR-V.
The introduction fo the Taos as Volkswagen works to flush out its North American market offerings, first with the Atlas Cross Sport late last year then with the ID.4 electric SUV just last month.

2022 Volkswagen Toas The Volkswagen Taos sits below the Tiguan in the VW lineup.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"Taos is our fifth new addition to the Volkswagen SUV family in just four years, and we're thrilled to keep finding new ways to meet the needs of American families," said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. "Taos will bookend our compact SUV offering, giving buyers all the style, technology, and drivability that Volkswagen is known for at an even more affordable price."

The Volkswagen DNA is instantly apparent by anyone looking at the model. Its front end comes with a grille with familial ties to the Tiguan and Atlas while the light signature is borrowed from the ID.4. Top trim levels of the model feature VW's adaptive front lighting system. A panoramic sunroof is also available.

VW will offer the SUV in eight paint colors and with four wheel designs. Seventeen-inch aluminum-alloys are standard. Buyers can opt for their choice of 18-inch wheel designs (machined or black finish) or 19-inchers.

Size-wise, the Taos is a little larger than the 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport and a little shorter than the 2020 Ford Escape. It's 9.3 inches smaller than the Tiguan but has a wheelbase that's longer than the CR-V.

2022 Volkswagen Taos

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Despite its compact size, the Taos has just 1.6 cubic feet less passenger space than the two-row Tiguan - 99.5. That's far less than the spacious CR-V, which comes in at 105.9 cubic feet, but more than the 94.1 cubic feet in the Mazda CX-30.

Taos features 28.1 cubic feet of luggage space behind the second-row seats and 66.3 cubic feet with the second row folded down. Again, that puts it between models with the Rogue having more space and the Buick Encore GX having far less. The model offers a good amount of legroom for front and rear passengers.

Volkswagen is touting the Taos's interior design aesthetic and high-quality fit and finish. In typical VW style, the cabin is full of clean lines, seemingly all well-organized.

Two-tone seats are standard on the Taos, whether they're covered in the base cloth or available leatherette or leather seating surfaces. The top tier Taos model is available with a unique French Roast and black color combination.

VW developed the Taos especially for the U.S. market and it shows. The list of standard features includes automatic headlights, push-button start, keyless entry, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated side mirrors, and heated washer nozzles.

2022 Volkswagen Taos The Taos shares its looks with the rest of the VW stable of SUVs.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen Digital Cockpit is standard, meaning that there are no analog dials on the dashboard. Each model comes with Wi-Fi capability and an infotainment system powered by the company's MIB3 operating system, which is shared with Audi. An 8-inch infotainment touch screen is standard while wireless charging, 10-color ambient lighting and a BeatsAudio system is available.

The automaker has made its IQ.Drive suite of driver assistance technology available on every Taos. The suite includes forward collision warning with autonomous braking, active blind spot monitor, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, Travel Assist, and Emergency Assist. Park distance control is available.

Taos is powered by the same turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that runs the Jetta. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission in front-wheel drive models, the engine makes 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Those number are on the low end of what is offered in the segment. All-wheel drive Taos models get a dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission.

Volkswagen plans to sell the Taos in three trim levels: S, SE, and SEL. Taos will be produced in the North American Region at Volkswagen's Puebla, Mexico factory. More details and pricing will be announced ahead of the launch in the summer of 2021.

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The Lexus J201 Concept will be put to the test in the Rebelle Rally this year.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

It's lifted. It's blacked out. And it's ready to hit the trail (and beyond). Meet the Lexus J201 Concept, a LX 570-based concept car that's the result of a partnership between Expedition Overland and Lexus. It's basically the LX 570 on off-roading steroids.

The concept model takes its roots in the off-roading community, a community that is known more for their acquisition of the LX's little brother, the GX, than the LX itself.

The concept didn't happen upon its name by some random luck of the draw. It takes its moniker from the code for the Lexus LX platform: URJ201. That's the same platform the Toyota Land Cruiser uses, however, the LX is rarely thought of as being as capable as the Land Cruiser.

Lexus J201 Concept

Photo courtesy of Lexus


With the design of the J201, Lexus and Expedition Overland strived to make a model that is both tasteful and capable. The concept had to be "always on" and ready to take on terrain in a better way than the standard LX. It also needed to be human-focused.

At the front is a CBI off-road bumper, Warn Zeon 10-S winch, and a 30-inch Rigid Industries RDS SR-Series Pro light bar. The rig rides on 17-inch x 8-inch EVO Corse DakarZero wheels wrapped in General Grabber X3 tires. It has drilled front and rear rotors, Super Sport performance brake pads, and color-matched calipers from StopTech.

The drivetrain has been improved by the addition of a Magnuson supercharger that helps the SUV deliver 550 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque. It has front and rear performance differentials and ARB air lockers. A TJM Airtec Snorkel helps with air flow. There's also an ARB high performance twin on-board compressor that is mounted using a Slee Off-Road system.

CBI Offroad rock sliders and skid plates protect the underside of the J201, which includes an Icon Vehicle Dynamics upgraded suspension. With the new suspension, the LX 570 has received a 2-inch front lift and a 1-inch rear lift in Normal Mode. With four settings, the suspension can provide up to 4.8 inches of lift at the front and 4.1 inches in the rear.

On top os a Prinsu Design roof rack system and a 40-inch Rigid Industries SR Series Spot Midnight light bar.

The rear of the car features a CBI Offroad rear bumper system with a rear ladder, dual swing-outs, spare tire, and Baja Designs S2 Sport lighting. Sceptor 5-gallon water can complete the exterior enhancements.

On the roof console there's a new ARB Line accessory interface to digitally control lighting, air lockers, and the compressor, as well as monitor the status of the battery and angle of the model.

Goose Gear drawer models are in the cargo area an house the car's Warn Epic Recovery Kit. Zero Halliburton has provided Pursuit Aluminum travel cases.

The J201 Concept will be put to the test by defending Rebelle Rally champions, Rachelle Croft and Taylor Pawley of The X Elles as part of the 2020 Rebelle Rally.

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