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2022 Volkswagen Taos SEL

by • January 31, 2022 • ReviewComments (0)363

The all-new 2022 Volkswagen Taos is the product of a familiar pattern in the car business. As a particular vehicle segment grows in popularity (in this case, crossovers), manufacturers tend to enlarge and differentiate their entries to make room for new models that fill the newly created gaps in their lineup. With VW‘s range of SUVs in the United States swelling to include the compact Tiguan, mid-size Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport, and the electric ID.4, a vacancy opened up in the increasingly popular subcompact space.

Subcompact is sort of misleading, though, as the Taos is one of the larger players in its class. It has a huge back seat for a subcompact SUV, and its cargo hold can swallow 25 cubic feet behind the rear seats (28 cubes if you forgo all-wheel drive). Fold the 60/40 split back seats down and you get over 65 cubic feet. Unusually, all-wheel-drive models are less capacious, but not by much. Its packaging is brilliant, and it feels more spacious than its exterior proportions suggest. At 72.5 inches, the Taos is actually a hair wider than the one-size-up Tiguan and feels similarly spacious in terms of elbow space. Unlike the Tiguan, there’s no available third row of seats.

Powering the Taos is a new 1.5-liter version of the EA211 turbocharged inline-four. Aided by a modified version of the Miller cycle and fitted with a variable-geometry turbocharger, the engine purrs willingly to its 6400-rpm redline and produces a respectable 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, the latter from just 1750 rpm. That is less power than you’ll get from a top-spec 175-hp Seltos 1.6T or a 250-hp Mazda CX-30 Turbo, but it’s perfectly adequate for anything you could imagine doing around town or on the highway. Standard front-wheel-drive models pair the turbo-four with a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission. Although the Taos’ driving dynamics don’t provide enthusiast thrills, they will suffice for drivers seeking a spacious, straightforward, and confident-handling vehicle. The front-drive Taos delivers an EPA combined estimate of 31 mpg. At 36 mpg, it’s tied with the Nissan Kicks for best-in-segment highway fuel economy.

The front end is assertive yet approachable, the body lines are crisp and there is a real feeling of quality with the Taos. When in motion, if you don’t know to look for its distinguishing design cues, a broad LED lightbar that connects the standard LED headlights plus chrome TAOS lettering on the rear liftgate—you can easily mistake it for a Tiguan. The chassis absorbs larger impacts without flinching and does an excellent job filtering out vibration and grittiness, practically giving this VW the feel of a German luxury car.

This VW Taos feels solidly built, from the low liftover height of its cargo floor to its rear climate-control vents to its ability to easily accommodate adults front and rear, the Taos’s interior is highlighted by its functionality. A fully digital cockpit system comes standard on all trim levels of the Taos, an 8-inch digital instrument cluster is standard, but SEL models feature a fully reconfigurable 10.3-inch panel that is crisp and colorful. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard equipment. Up to three USB type-C ports are offered in this VW and the top two trims come with a wireless charging plate. Setting the SEL trim apart from the pack, it also boasts of an eight-speaker Beats audio system.

Ambient lighting, automatic headlights, and VW‘s App Connect smartphone integration system all are standard. Additional microprocessors control the IQ.Drive bundle of active-safety features: stop-and-go adaptive cruise control with semi-automated assistance, active blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, automatic forward-collision warning, and emergency braking. IQ.Drive is a $895 to $995 option on lesser S and SE trims and standard on the top SEL. Coincidentally, the starter S model’s competitive $24,190 base price is the same as that of the outgoing Golf hatchback that the Taos more or less replaces. Budget $28,440 for the SE trim and a somewhat substantial $32,685 for an SEL model like our test car, plus another $1450 to $2045 if you want all-wheel drive. SEL models also come standard with automatic high beams, rear parking sensors and road-sign recognition.

Depending on the configuration, those prices position the Taos awfully close to certain versions of the grander Tiguan, which starts at $26,440. Yet, considering the Taos’s generous packaging and strong roster of equipment, potential Tiguan buyers won’t have to sacrifice much if they step down to this new lower rung in the brand’s model range.

VW has given drivers another choice in the compact SUV segment and it was worth the wait.

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