It stands to reason that Volkswagen would add a smaller compact companion to the larger Tiguan and much bigger Atlas tall wagons.
The Taos arrives at the perfect time, considering that utility-style vehicles in this size range are popular. The Chevrolet Trailblazer, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-30 and upcoming 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross fall into in this bracket.
The Taos is named for a small town in New Mexico and could be considered a replacement of sorts for the base Volkswagen Golf hatchback. It bows out this year following a long service, but leaves behind the hot-hatch Golf GTI and Golf R variants that receive updates for 2022.
From front to back, the Taos’s design aligns with Tiguan’s looks. For 2022, that vehicle receives a new grille and LED headlights that are close to Taos’s designs. Both models share similar front and side glass, but the Taos’s liftgate and taillights are unique.
Compared with the Tiguan, the Taos is nearly 24 centimetres shorter overall and is 10 centimetres shorter between the front and rear wheels. Surprisingly, the Taos is slightly wider, which explains why total passenger space between the two is nearly identical. Those seated in back (adults especially) should find it a relatively comfortable spot and easy to enter and exit via the wide door openings.
With the rear seat folded, the cargo volume is only a bit less than that of the Tiguan, which can be had with three rows of seats. The Taos’s low cargo floor should make loading and unloading less of a strain.
As with most Volkswagen vehicles, the Taos’s cabin and dashboard have a lean and conservative profile. The configurable digital gauges are standard and resemble traditional round speedometers and tachometers. The transmission shifter is a conventional stick and the control-panel dials and switches for the audio and climate controls are uncomplicated. The standard 6.5-inch and available 8.0-inch touch-screens are attractively integrated with the dashboard.
Standard with all trims is a new turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine rated at 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Base fuel economy is rated at 8.4 l/100 km in the city, 6.6 on the highway and 7.6 combined.
Front-wheel-drive models come with an eight-speed automatic transmission. A seven-speed automatic comes with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. It’s a dual-clutch transmission, which should mean faster shifts and less parasitic power loss.
A torsion-beam (solid) rear axle comes with the FWD Taos, while an independent rear suspension is fitted to the AWD version.
Pricing for the base Taos Trendline starts at $28,400, which is about $2,700 more than a base 2021 Golf Trendline equipped with the optional eight-speed automatic transmission. That gets you the basics plus roof rails, two-tone cloth-covered seats, push-button starter, four-speaker sound system and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The Comfortline adds all-wheel-drive, six-speaker audio system, leatherette seat covers, eight-way power driver’s seat and wireless phone charging
Opting for the top-end Highline trim gets you a sunroof, leather-covered seats (heated and ventilated in front), ambient 10-colour interior lighting, navigation, premium eight-speaker Beats-brand audio system and adaptive (pivoting with turns) headlights.
Optional on the Highline is a broad range of dynamic-safety technologies that includes blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control with emergency braking. You can also upgrade your Highline with remote start and 19-inch wheels.
The Taos’s overall spaciousness, good looks and a comparatively strong powertrain should make it a popular choice in this bracket. Unless the Tiguan’s available third-row bench is an absolute necessity, saving a few thousand dollars on what amounts to a slightly smaller package sounds like a sensible move.
What you should know: 2022 Volkswagen Taos
Type: Front- /all-wheel-drive compact utility vehicle
Engine (h.p.): 1.5-litre I-4, turbocharged (158)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic; seven-speed automatic (opt.)
Market position: Adding smaller utility vehicles/crossovers is becoming commonplace with a host of automakers, while compact sedans become less popular, or fade away entirely. VW also needed a vehicle to slot in below the Tiguan.
Points: Overall attractive design resembles the Tiguan. • Passenger and cargo space is also nearly equal to that model. • Base model costs a bit more than the outgoing Golf. • Standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine should prove more than sufficient for most drivers.
Driver assist: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); front and rear emergency braking (opt.); Inattentive-driver alert (n.a.); lane-keeping assist (opt.); pedestrian detection (opt.)
L/100 km (city/hwy): 8.4/6.6 (FWD)
Base price (incl. destination): $28,400
- Base price: $24,600
- The smallest of Chevy’s utilities offers a choice of two turbo I-3 engines.
- Base price: $25,000
- Compact hatch can be had with turbo or non-turbo I-4 engines, or electric power.
- Base price: $26,800
- Stylish CX-3-based model can be ordered with a turbocharged 250-h.p. I-4.
– written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media