2022 Volkswagen Taos Sel 4motion 107 1668188484

2022 Volkswagen Taos Plays Big among Subcompact SUVs

UPDATE 11/18/22: This review has been updated to add test results for an all-wheel drive model.

UPDATE 8/23/21: This review has been updated with test results for a front-wheel drive model.

The all-new 2022 Volkswagen Taos is the product of a well-known pattern in the automotive industry. As a particular vehicle segment (in this case, crossovers) grows in popularity, manufacturers tend to expand and differentiate their entries to make room for new models that fill the newly created gaps in their lineup. With VW’s lineup of SUVs in the United States growing to include the compact Tiguan, the midsize Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport, and the electric ID.4 (sort of an SUV, we’re guessing), a vacancy arises in the increasingly popular subcompact space, among the likes of the Jeep Compass, Kia Seltos and Subaru Crosstrek. It also helps that VW won’t be offering Americans a regular, non-GTI version of its latest Golf hatchback, which we’re still sore about. At least the Taos is a compelling little crossover on most fronts.

“Small” is kind of misleading, though, as the Taos is one of the larger players in its class. Its MQB-based architecture rests atop a wheelbase of either 105.6 inches for the all-wheel drive variant or 105.9 inches for the front-driver. It has a huge rear seat for a subcompact SUV, and its spacious and easily accessible cargo area can swallow 25 cubic feet of stuff behind the rear seats (28 cubes if you ditch all-wheel drive). On the road, if you don’t know to look for its signature design cues—a wide LED light bar connecting the standard LED headlights plus chrome TAOS lettering on the tailgate—you could easily mistake it for a (slightly) larger Tiguan. VW says the name Taos refers to the rugged, picturesque town in New Mexico. We didn’t go there for our drive, but we did traverse our local Michigan locations in front-drive and all-wheel-drive variants, both top SEL trim levels.

HIGHLIGHTS: Cavernous interior for a small SUV, impressive fuel economy, attractive base price.

Powering the Taos is a new 1.5-liter version of the EA211 turbocharged inline-four — a 1.4-liter EA211 is found in the Jetta sedan. Aided by the boost of a variable-geometry turbocharger, the engine purrs willingly to its 6000-rpm redline, producing a respectable, if not quite spirited, 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, the latter from just 1750 rpm. It’s less grunt 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 casual freeway engagements. Standard front-wheel drive models mate the turbo four to a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive versions get a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, which VW calls a direct-shift gearbox (DSG). The company says this split allowed it to focus both on greater fuel efficiency with the eight-speed and a sportier driving character with the dual-clutch.

The front-wheel-drive SEL model we tested rocketed to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds and covered the quarter mile in 15.8 seconds at 87 mph, making it slightly faster than the latest Subaru Crosstrek with a 2.5- liter flat-four and considerably lighter. as a Jeep Compass. An all-wheel-drive SEL 4Motion example—which, at 3557 pounds, was 313 pounds heavier than the front-driver—was just a hair slower to 60 mph, hitting that mark in 7.5 seconds. It also posted an identical 15.8-second quarter-mile time. However, the more powerful turbocharged Kia Seltos is about half a second faster than the VWs, both to 60 and through the quarter mile.

That said, the front-drive Taos is the fuel miser’s choice, earning an EPA combined estimate of 31 mpg, versus 28 mpg for all-wheel-drive models. Our front-drive example did well in the real world with a 30 mpg average, and it posted an impressive 40 mpg on our 75-mph highway test, beating its federal rating by 4 mpg. The aforementioned Subaru and Kia (both AWD) managed only 30 mpg on our highway drive—significantly behind the 33 mpg the all-wheel-drive Taos achieved in that test. Overall, the AWD version averaged 29 mpg while in our care.

2022 volkswagen taos cell 4motion

Andy Hedrick|Car and Driver

But the 4Motion model’s DSG isn’t as convincing in its role as a sporty transmission. While its shifts are generally quick and well-coordinated at speed, it lacks the eight-speed’s unobtrusive smoothness, being relatively clumsy around town and under quick on-off-on-throttle applications. Only all-wheel drive variants get a drive mode selector with Normal, Eco, Sport and Individual settings, but even in its most aggressive mode the dual-clutch hesitates between upshifts when accelerating briskly. There are no steering wheel paddle shifters, so we mostly let the DSG select its own gears rather than using the shifter’s sluggish manual gear gate.

LOW: Modest performance, some cheap interior plastics, clunky optional dual-clutch transmission.

The other significant difference between the two drivelines is the rear suspension. The front-wheel-drive Taos has a torsion beam rear, while the four-wheel-drive model uses a multi-link setup. This is why there are two wheelbase lengths. The multilink’s greater composure and more substantial feel make the four-wheel-drive Taos our clear choice. Although the all-wheel drive Taos is the heavier of the two variants, its more sophisticated suspension promotes greater driver confidence by bringing better body control. Our 4Motion model, rolling on slightly wider 19-inch tires, gained 0.85g of bump grip compared to 0.83g for the front driver on its narrower 18s.

Braking ability is adequate and controlled by an easy-to-modulate pedal, despite a bit of mush in the first inch or so of travel. Not surprisingly, the all-wheel-drive version’s greater mass was a hindrance here, as its 185-foot stopping distance from 70 mph was nine feet longer than the front-drive SEL needed. Yet with decent ride comfort and fairly low levels of interior noise—68 decibels at a 70 mph cruise in the front driver; 71 in the 4Motion model road isolation is good for a vehicle that starts at $24,790. Just don’t expect Golf levels of agility from the Taos’ extra girth and higher center of gravity.

From the low lift height of its cargo floor to its rear climate control vents to its ability to easily accommodate six-plus feet front and rear, the Taos’ interior is highlighted by its functionality. This subcompact feels solidly built, and material quality is mostly commensurate with its price, although the hard, glossy plastic dashboard panel looks nice, especially in the top-spec SEL models that cost more than $30,000. While not boldly inspired, the Taos’ cabin benefits from rounded trim pieces and contrasting colors that lend it some character. Soft materials are soft enough and well placed, and there’s VW’s famous and handsome thick-rimmed steering wheel. Seat choices include cloth upholstery for base models, leather at the top of the range, and a leather/cloth combination with grippy inserts for mid-level SE trims. All offer good comfort and excellent visibility.

At 72.5 inches, the Taos is actually a hair wider than the one-size-fits-all Tiguan and feels equally roomy in terms of elbow room. Unlike in the Tiguan, there are no third row seats available. Base models get an 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster and a 6.5-inch center touchscreen, with the screens in higher trims increasing to 10.3 and 8.0 inches, respectively. We like that the Taos sticks with VW’s more familiar infotainment system rather than adopting the newer, less intuitive version in the ID.4 that we’re still warming up to. Ambient lighting, automatic headlights and VW’s App Connect smartphone integration system are all standard.

2022 volkswagen taos cell 4motion

Andy Hedrick|Car and Driver

Additional microprocessors control the IQ.Drive bundle of active-safety features: stop-and-go adaptive cruise control with semi-automatic assist, active blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, automatic forward collision warning and emergency braking. IQ.Drive is an $895 to $995 option on smaller S and SE trims and standard on the top SEL. Notable extras include a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, and a yet-to-be-released Basecamp appearance package that will add a touch of off-road flair.

Coincidentally, the entry-level S model’s competitive $24,790 base price is virtually the same as that of the outgoing Golf hatchback that more or less replaces the Taos. Budget $29,190 for the SE trim and a somewhat substantial $33,385 for a SEL model, plus another $1450 to $2045 if you want all-wheel drive. Depending on configuration, those prices put the Taos awfully close to certain versions of the larger Tiguan, which start at $27,785. Still, considering the Taos’ spacious packaging and strong equipment list, potential Tiguan buyers won’t have to sacrifice much if they step down to this new bottom rung in the brand’s model range. The Taos isn’t the fun-to-drive replacement for the Golf we’d prefer, but it makes a solid anchor for VW’s SUV lineup.

Specifications

Specifications

2022 Volkswagen Taos SEL
Vehicle Type: Front Engine, Front Wheel Drive, 5-Passenger, 4-Door Wagon

PRICE
Base/As Tested: $33,385/$33,385

ENGINE
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 91 inches31498 cm3
Power: 158 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 184 lb-ft @ 1750 rpm

TRANSMISSION
8-speed automatic

CHASSIS
Suspension, F/R: struts/torsion beam
Brakes, F/R: 12.3-inch ventilated disc/10.7-in disc
Tires: Bridgestone Turanza LS100
215/50R-18 92H M+S

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 105.9 inches
Length: 175.8 inches
Width: 72.5 inches
Height: 64.4 inches
Passenger volume: 99 feet3
Cargo volume: 28 feet3
Curb weight: 3244 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 7.4 sec
1/4-mile: 15.8 sec @ 87 mph
100 mph: 21.5 sec

Results above show 1 foot deployment of 0.3 sec. away.
Acceleration, 5–60 mph: 8.4 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.5 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.1 sec
Fastest speed (C/D east): 125 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 176 ft
Road holding capacity, 300-foot skid road: 0.83 g

C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 30 mpg
75 mph highway driving: 40 mpg
75 mph highway range: 520 miles

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 31/28/36 mpg

2022 Volkswagen Taos SEL 4Motion
Vehicle type: front engine, four-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon

PRICE
Base/As Tested: $34,940/$36,535
Options: panoramic sunroof, $1200; Kings Red Metallic paint, $395

ENGINE
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 91 inches31498 cm3
Power: 158 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 184 lb-ft @ 1750 rpm

TRANSMISSION
7-speed dual clutch automatic

CHASSIS
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 12.3-inch ventilated disc/10.7-in disc
Tires: Pirelli Scorpion Zero All Season
225/45R-19 92H M+S

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 105.6 inches
Length: 175.8 inches
Width: 72.5 inches
Height: 64.6 inches
Passenger volume: 99 feet3
Cargo volume: 25 feet3
Curb weight: 3557 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 7.5 sec
1/4-mile: 15.8 sec @ 85 mph
100 mph: 24.2 sec

Results above show 1 foot deployment of 0.3 sec. away.
Acceleration, 5–60 mph: 8.5 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.6 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 5.9 sec
Fastest speed (C/D east): 125 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 185 ft
Road holding capacity, 300-ft Skid road: 0.85 g

C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 29 mpg
75 mph highway driving: 33 mpg
75 mph highway range: 470 miles

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 28/25/32 mpg

C/D TEST EXPLAINED

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