It stands to reason that Volkswagen would add a smaller compact companion to the bigger Tiguan and the much bigger Atlas big wagons.
The Taos comes at the right time, considering utility-style vehicles in this size range are popular. The Chevrolet Trailblazer, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-30, and the upcoming 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross fall into this category.
The Taos is named after a small town in New Mexico and could be seen as something of a replacement for the base Volkswagen Golf hatchback. It bows out this year after long service, but leaves behind the hot hatchback Golf GTI and Golf R variants which are getting updates for 2022.
From front to back, the design of the Taos matches the appearance of the Tiguan. For 2022, this vehicle gets a new grille and LED headlights akin to Taos designs. Both models share similar front and side glass, but the Taos’ tailgate and taillights are unique.
Compared to the Tiguan, the Taos is almost 24 centimeters shorter overall and 10 centimeters between the front and rear wheels. Surprisingly, the Taos is slightly wider, which is why the total passenger space between the two is nearly identical. Rear seaters (adults in particular) should find it relatively comfortable and easy to get in and out of through the wide door openings.
With the rear seat folded down, the cargo volume is only a little less than that of the Tiguan, which can be had with three rows of seats. The Taos’ low load floor should make loading and unloading easier.
As with most Volkswagen vehicles, the Taos’ cabin and dash have a lean, conservative profile. Configurable digital gauges are standard and resemble traditional round speedometers and tachometers. The shifter is a conventional lever and the control panel dials and switches for the audio and climate controls are simple. The standard 6.5-inch and optional 8.0-inch touchscreens are attractively integrated into the dash.
Standard on all trims, a new 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine develops 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Base consumption 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 is a dual-clutch transmission, which should mean quicker 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, 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-wrapped seats, push-button starter, quad-speaker sound system and 17-inch alloy wheels.
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 premium Highline trim gets you a sunroof, leather-wrapped seats (heated and ventilated in front), 10-color ambient interior lighting, navigation, premium Beats-branded sound system eight speakers and adaptive (pivoting with bends) headlights.
Optional on the Highline, a wide range of dynamic safety technologies include blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control with emergency braking. You can also upgrade your Highline with remote start and 19-inch wheels.
The Taos’ overall space, good looks and relatively powerful powertrain should make it a popular choice in this class. Unless the Tiguan’s available third-row bench seat is an absolute necessity, saving a few thousand dollars on what amounts to a slightly smaller package seems like a sensible move.
What you need to know: 2022 Volkswagen Taos
Type: Front-wheel drive/all-wheel drive compact utility vehicle
Engine (hp): 1.5-litre inline-4, turbocharged (158)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic; seven-speed automatic (opt.)
Market position: The addition of smaller utility/crossover vehicles is becoming commonplace among a host of automakers, while compact sedans are becoming less popular or disappearing altogether. VW also needed a vehicle to fit under the Tiguan.
Points: The overall attractive design resembles the Tiguan. • Passenger and cargo space is also almost equal to this model. • The base model costs a little more than the outgoing Golf. • The standard four-cylinder turbocharged engine should prove more than adequate for most drivers.
Driving assistance: Blind spot warning with backup alert in case of cross traffic (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); forward and reverse emergency braking (opt.); Inattentive Driver Alert (na); lane keeping assist (opt.); pedestrian detection (opt.)
L/100 km (city/highway): 8.4/6.6 (AT)
Basic price (destination incl.): $28,400
- Base price: $24,600
- Chevrolet’s smallest utility offers a choice of two I-3 turbo engines.
- Base price: $25,000
- The compact hatch can be equipped with turbo or non-turbo I-4 engines, or electric power.
- Base price: $26,800
- The sleek CX-3-based model can be ordered with a 250hp turbocharged I-4.
– written by Malcom Gunn, managing partner at Wheelbase Media