2022 Volkswagen Taos Review

2022 Volkswagen Taos - Bye Bye Beetle Hello Taos


Germany’s largest automaker, Volkswagen, knows a thing or two about transportation for the masses and appealing vehicles wrapped in small packages.
The iconic upside-down bathtub on wheels, known better as the VW Beetle, captured the American imagination and sales once arriving stateside post World War II in 1949. The lightweight ‘Bug’ exited the U.S. market in the late 1970s only to return as the ‘New’ Beetle in 1998 this time sporting front-wheel drive and an engine up front.   Twenty-one years later, it took another final bow out of the U.S. market.

In the 2022 model year, Volkswagen returns to the subcompact segment with Taos, a peppy, well-executed all-new-to-the-lineup five-door crossover.  Like the Beetle, it’s light on the wallet, intended not to bust bank accounts wide open.

Taos slots under the compact five-door Tiguan crossover in its U.S. product lineup.  Unlike Tiguan, Taos smartly markets itself as a two-row, five passenger vehicles.  Tiguan comes with an optional third row, a rarity in compact crossovers and serviceable primarily to the pre-teen set.   Most importantly to price-sensitive buyers, Taos starts $3,000 less than Tiguan.  Both share VW’s global MQB modular platform architecture in use for more than a decade utilized in smallish front-engine, front-wheel drive offerings.

Long standing nameplates including Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 and Nissan Sentra already embrace entrenched name recognition, a potent marketing tool.  Taos must break through advertising clutter to stand out and stand a chance, but with VW as its guardian angel, marketing funds remain plentiful.  Plus, it’s a solid choice. Taos doesn’t necessarily excel in any one category, instead rating above average in a multitude of disciplines.

Thanks to a generous wheelbase (distance between front and rear axle), Taos boasts 99.5 cubic feet of passenger space, just 1.6 cubic feet less than Tiguan.

Don’t let the subcompact designation dissuade a look.  During the past decade subcompacts have inched forward in size (as have their compact counterparts) and front-seat comfort combined headroom rate first class. Front buckets also include a relative high seating position, making ingress and egress a pleasure, not a chore as some low-to-the-ground sports cars.

The simplistic, highly recognizable circular logo, the letter V atop a capital W, adorns the narrow, honeycombed front grille, back hatch and steering wheel hub.  Pleasant exterior styling starts with a side character line running straight across the side from the front fender over strap-like door handles to wrap-around taillights in the rear.  

With the manually operating rear hatch open, Taos engineers designed enough head clearance for those standing six feet four inches, again, big thinking in a subcompact blueprint.  A bar-type grab bar molded into the inside door assists when closing downward.  

Taos specifically and internal-combustion VWs in general provide a superb interior layout based on a simple premise; Keep it Simple.  Taos, Tiguan, Jetta and other models utilize a similar functionality employing grab knobs and twist dials all falling under the larger more high-tech sounding umbrella of ‘VW’s Digital Cockpit.’

Taos sports one four-cylinder engine, two automatic transmissions and three trims levels (S, SE and top-tier SEL). Front wheel drive comes standard with VW’s 4Motioin all-wheel drive optional in all trims.  The 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers a useable 158 horses. Front drive models include a conventional eight-speed transmission, 4Motion opts for an advanced dual-clutch seven speed variety.  Regular, 87-octane fuel fills a 13.2-gallon tank. Expect a robust 36 miles per gallon highway with front-drive editions.

This powertrain’s start/stop technology shuts down workings during prolonged stops (such as intersection lights) conserving fuel and snapping back once the right foot lifts from the brake pedal.  If desired, the system deactivates from a well-marked button right of the tall-standing transmission shifter between front buckets.

Dual beverage holders and a small storage bin with a flip top hinged at the back also locate between the buckets, as does the electronic parking brake tab. Conveniently, VW positions the circular electronic start/stop ignition here too, an easier reach than the dashboard, which sometimes finds interference with the large steering column.

While the 2022 Taos rates as an internal combustion exclusive product, Volkswagen’s contract with alternative-power continues expanding at top speeds within industry standards.  The company estimates 50 percent of U.S. sales will consist of all-electric EV’s by 2030 with its mid-size ID.4 crossover already at dealers and performing quite well on the streets and in sales data. Volkswagen also is the parent company behind ‘Electrify America,’ a key player establishing a network of charging stations from coast to coast (with locations throughout 47 states as of this writing).

Another common element standard or optional across the VW lineup, IQ.Drive, driver assistance technology built upon front and rear radar, cameras and sensors collectively gleaning data from the surroundings. Collective data safety protocols include forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, and radar-sensitive cruise control allowing vehicles to slow or gain speed depending upon the distance of the highway vehicle ahead.  This suite comes standard in SEL trim while a worthy option in S ($995) and SE ($895) trims.

Other than IQ.Drive, the small option list gets relegated to an SEL sunroof ($1,200) and S and SE Convenience Packages largely consisting of heated leatherette front seats and rain-sensing front wipers.

A front-drive S trim starts at $22,995. Our front-drive SE checked in at $27,245 with a bottom line reaching $31,325 including a $1,195 destination charge and a few of the available options.  

Our 10.25-inch digital instrument panel includes a multi-screen approach with three panel views available from which drivers may choose.  Buttons afront of the steering wheel face at 3 o’clock select panels. Two scroll buttons allow selection of 21 fast facts listed in two windows flanking the center speedometer.  The 9 o’clock steering wheel face position houses cruise control operation.  

It’s not the only upfront screen.  An in-dash multi-function four-color screen houses audio and navigation selections.  Unlike the IP, this one is touch sensitive.  The screen is flanked by columns of well-marked instructional buttons working in tandem with swipe-able and pinch-zoom capacities.  It’s easily workable and logically designed.  Base S models include a 6.5-inch format while upper trims enlarge to a glass-covered 8.0-inch display.

Screens incorporate Modular Infotainment Matrix (MIB), VW speak for integrated Bluetooth technology, voice recognition, Satellite radio, HD Radio and Smartphone compatibility through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink.  Entry S models feature second-generation MIB while SE and SEL graduate to Gen 3.

In 2018 and 2019, VW highly touted its “People’s First,” warranty incorporating a substantially longer time/mileage horizon of six-years/72,000 miles than offered in the past. While time frame and mileage limits adjusted downward starting in 2020, VW has added two years/20,000 miles of “Carefree” maintenance covering regularly scheduled items including periodic oil changes.

Volkswagen’s four-year/50,000-mile powertrain warranty specs for 2022 still beat the three-year/36,000 mile versions offered by Ford, General Motors and Honda.

Another peace-of-mind perk returning in 2022; 24-hour roadside assistance for situations we wish never to encounter, but are prepared for just in case.   Coverage is for three years or 36,000 miles and includes jump starts, tire changes and towing.

At a Glance
2022 VW Taos
Price as tested:  $31,325
Engine: 1.5-liter turbo four
Horsepower:  158
Wheelbase: 105.9 inches
Overall Length:  175.8 inches
Overall Width:  72.5 inches
Overall Height:  64.4 inches
Curb weight:   3,1275 pounds
Fuel economy:   28 mpg city, 36 mpg highway
Assembly: Mexico

Dave Boe

Dave Boe, a lifetime Chicago area resident, worked at the Daily Herald, Illinois' third-largest daily newspaper, for 24 years. In 1989, the Daily Herald began a weekly Saturday Auto Section and he was shortly appointed editor. The product quickly grew into one of the largest weekend sections in the paper thanks to his locally-written auto reviews, the introduction of a local automotive question-and-answer column, a new colorful format and news happenings from Chicago area new-car dealerships.

Five years later, a second weekly auto section debuted on Mondays with Boe adding an industry insight column and introducing a "Love Affair with Your Car" column where readers sent in their own automotive memories for publication. During the next 10 years, the number of weekly auto sections Boe edited and coordinated grew to five and featured expanded NASCAR racing coverage, a dealer spotlight/profile feature and a Car Club Calendar where grass-roots automobile clubs could publish upcoming events for free. Boe also introduced more local automotive columnists into the pages of the sections, all of whom were seasoned members of the well respected Midwest Automotive Media Association. In 1997, Boe earned the Employee of the Year award from the Daily Herald.

Boe is a founding member and current president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. He has degrees in Journalism and Business Administration from Northern Illinois University.