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Pricing and Mechanical Specs

The Taos has the lowest starting price of every model included in this comparison. Its base MRSP of $23,995 is lower than that of the Trailblazer ($24,395), Seltos ($24,990), and Kona ($24,100). The Taos also gets bragging rights for offering the most powerful engine in this comparison. Its turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine pumps out 158 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. Torque is a key ingredient in acceleration. Although the Seltos and Kona share a 2.0-liter four-cylinder powerplant (since Kia and Hyundai have the same corporate parent), the lack of a turbocharger puts these crossovers behind the eight ball. The output is 146 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. for the Seltos, and 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. for the Kona. The Trailblazer’s engine gets a turbocharger, but its three-cylinder architecture and 1.2-liter displacement are underwhelming. This Chevy only produces 137 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft. of torque.

Transmission

Transmissions aren’t at the forefront of most car shoppers’ minds, but an understanding of what manages engine power and traction makes the advantages clear. Among these four crossovers, only the Taos has a conventional automatic transmission. The others use a continuously variable transmission (CVT). There’s a fundamental difference worthy of an explanation. The Taos’s sophisticated eight-speed automatic enables smooth shifting to maximize both performance and fuel economy. This gearbox is designed for more engaging driving, a VW hallmark. On the other hand, the CVT is more about saving gas than providing fun behind the wheel. CVTs are also cheaper to manufacture, which is why we’re seeing these transmissions in more and more cars.

There’s also a long-term consideration between these two transmissions. If repairs are required years later, an automatic can be cheaper to work on. In some situations, all it takes to repair a faulty automatic is replacement of a single bad gear. It’s not an inexpensive fix, but this type of work is generally less costly than repairing a defective CVT. CVT repairs often involve a complete transmission replacement, which is never a simple fix because a CVT uses a belt and pulley system, not a series of gears. The entire CVT system is in use regardless of the speed, and when something goes wrong, there isn’t just a single component to point to as the culprit.

Fuel Economy

To be fair, all four of the crossovers mentioned here get similar fuel economy in the city (28-29 mpg). But the Taos’s 36 mpg on the highway is the best of the bunch. In contrast, the Seltos and Kona are rated for 34 mpg on the open road. A difference of 2 mpg may not seem like much, but the savings can add to hundreds over the life of vehicle ownership. The Trailblazer falls way behind, with an EPA rating of 31 mpg on the highway (2023 information).

Dimensions

The Taos, Seltos, Kona, and Trailblazer all offer similar interior and exterior measurements. You won’t find appreciable contrasts in front and rear legroom, for example. However, the Taos excels in two key areas. It has the longest wheelbase (105.9 inches, 2.4 inches longer than Seltos) among this group. A greater distance between the axles helps to smooth out rough road surfaces. In addition, the Taos has more cargo space (27.9 cubic feet) behind the second row than these competitors (with the Seltos coming closest at 26.6 cubic feet). An extra cubic foot or so can make all the difference when you’re loading luggage into a smaller vehicle at vacation time.

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