The Tiguan and Atlas now have a little brother. The 2022 Taos is a subcompact SUV though one that’s smartly packaged to maintain sizable interior proportions.
Now, I’ve been running this little guy all over the place this week – through the mountains of New England, taking it on day trips, etc. and it’s clear: VW has yet another winner in their growing SUV stable.
The Taos is one of the most pleasant surprises to come across my test drive schedule this year. It performs far above its $33,000 as-tested price by exceeding expectations in nearly every area. The drive is spot-on VW with dynamic characteristics on par with the Golf.
The Audi-like tech features have me double checking the sticker price and all of the intangibles just click; it looks good as you approach it, it’s accommodating to its passengers and the size is perfect for day trips and running errands. I’ve averaged over 32mpg on regular to boot though VW recommends using 91 octane to achieve the engine’s full power.
If you don’t need the Tiguan’s bigger cargo area the Taos is a no-brainer. Even so, with the 2nd row seats folded flat and locked in place the Taos’ max cargo volume is nearly identical to that of the Tiguan’s. Where the Tiguan gains an advantage is cargo volume behind the 2nd row.
And what if I told you this one actually has more rear seat legroom? I also love the shopping bag hooks back here which can each hold 5 pounds.
This Pure Gray paint is a $395 option but looks especially good on my tester, which is actually a front-wheel drive model – something I don’t get very often around here when I test SUVs. Though both this and the 4MOTION model use the same 1.5-liter turbo producing 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, the front-drive Taos transmits its power via an 8-speed automatic while the AWD model utilizes a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
4MOTION models also receive a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension but that comes at a cost; a reduction in cargo volume. And frankly, I’ve never once thought about the rudimentary torsion beam on my tester…it’s completely a non-issue. This Taos is smooth in its ride and eager to please on rural roads. It also checks in at 255 pounds less than the 4MOTION lending to a more favorable power-to-weight ratio.
And let me tell you, I’ve had this Taos on some of the most spectacular driving roads in New England and enjoyed every second of it…the turbo boost and low-speed torque combined with a Sport mode for the 8-speed make the driver happy whether it’s passing through small towns at 30mph or crossing the gaps at speed.
Unlike in the Tiguan and Atlas there’s no R-Line available here so this SEL trim serves as the highest Taos example and everything you see here – other than the floor mats – comes standard for $33,185; that’s quite the attractive price when you consider all that the Taos is.
Beyond the litany of upscale features in the SEL such as adaptive front lighting with high beam assist – you know, the lights that bend in the turns, heated leather seats, a heating steering wheel with 3 settings of warmth, ambient interior lighting and the big, multi-view Digital Cockpit Pro – this Taos has really made an impression with its drive.
It handles the curvy backroads like a champ and the 1.5-liter turbo never feels underpowered climbing hills. The 8-speed auto with sport mode is the perfect complement leading to a tailored, German-precise drive with I really wasn’t expecting. It’s a comfortable highway cruiser, too. I’ve put big miles on this one and have thoroughly enjoyed my time behind the wheel despite the fact that this infotainment system can be maddening at times.
It supports wireless phone projection and has a conveniently placed wireless charge pad which is nice but interacting with it just falls short. There’s built-in navigation with available over the air updates and I love how it integrates my phone’s mapping software into the driver display if I choose to you that instead, but the voice commands are clunky and quickly finding what you want can be clumsy. It’s really the only aspect of the Taos that doesn’t fully agree with me.
But this big, bright highly configurable digital cockpit has me seeing Audi despite the fact that satellite mapping isn’t here, the ambient lighting is legit – much more robust than in some more expensive cars I’ve recently tested, and the BeatsAudio 8-speaker sound system is bassy. At speed, the Taos’ cabin tends to be a little loud so I’ve found myself cranking up the volume but nothing out of the ordinary for the compact SUV segment. Just know that the USB ports are Type-C.
IQ.DRIVE is the name Volkswagen gives to their driver assistance features and they’re all standard on this SEL trim. I’ve used the Travel Assist feature quite a bit which is radar cruise control and lane assist combined and it works very smoothly though it doesn’t match the smartness of the more hands-off Highway Driving Assistant from Hyundai. Dynamic Road Sign Display and Light Assist – which automatically activates the high beams – are a couple of my favorite bits but all of the electronic nannies are here to keep you feeling safe.
The only notable option my tester doesn’t have is the $1,200 panoramic sunroof. And if you were thinking of adding a hitch the Taos is not designed for towing a trailer. But this SUV is a real delight. VW should sell a ton of these and it’s easy to see why.
2022 VOLKSWAGEN TAOS TEST DRIVE BY CAR CRITIC STEVE HAMMES | TESTDRIVENOW 2021(c)
2022 Volkswagen Taos SEL