2022 Volkswagen Taos Review

2022 Volkswagen Taos - Taos a competitive new comact SUV


2022 Volkswagen Taos 1.5T SEL AWD price: $33,045

Pros—Impressively roomy. Supple ride. Lively. Fairly economical. AWD. Fun to drive. Safety features.

Cons—Rather nondescript styling. Efficient DSG automatic transmission can occasionally be uneven. No power rear hatch.

Bottom Line—Taos model with AWD and independent rear suspension especially shines.

Volkswagen had no choice but to add its compact Taos to its line for 2022, considering strong demand for all sizes and types of SUVs. It promises to be a smart move, considering the popularity of its larger, costlier compact Tiguan model, with which the Taos favorably compares in many areas.

Rivals include the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-30 and and Subaru Crosstrek.

The new Taos has understated styling, but my test model was sort of set off with black detailing of the wide three-bar grille, an illuminated light bar between the headlights with a large Volkswagen badge in the middle of the grille and 19-inch alloy wheels.    

The first thing that impressed me about my test top-line $33,045 Taos 1.5T SEL was its impressively roomy interior. Legroom is 40.1 inches in front and a generous 37.9 inches in the rear. Headroom also is appreciably above average, both front and rear, although my test vehicle had a $1,200 power tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof. Such a feature cuts down on headroom in some other SUVs.

Options and a destination charge bought the bototm-line price to $35,835.

It’s easy to slide in or out, with wide-opening doors of the Taos, named after a town in New Mexico. All-around visibility is good, and the supportive heated/ventilated driver’s seat is well suited to long-distance travel—as is the manual heated/ventilated front passenger seat. Side bolstering keeps front occupants comfortably in place, and the two-tone leather upholstery has nice stitching and brightens the interior.

The cabin has a generally German no-nonsense appearance, but it looks good with its contoured trim pieces and contrasting colors. Soft-touch materials are in the right places, but there’s a fair amount of hard plastic throughout the cabin. The plastic is especially noticeable on the top of the dashboard, which contains an attractive 10.2-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster. Manual dashboard buttons and knobs for the climate control system reside below an 8-inch center touchscreen that has a good amount of settings and is fairly easy to use.  

Upscale features include dual-zone automatic climate control with second-row air vents, thick heated tilt/telescopic steering wheel, impressive sound system, push-button start, and a center console with USB data ports, dual cupholders and armrest.   

Cargo room is impressive. It’s 27.9 cubic feet, or 60.2 cubic feet with the rear split seat backs flipped forward. There’s a rear center pass-through area and armrest with dual cupholders, along with a USB charging port, in the second row.

However I found it surprising that the heavy cargo hatch must be open and closed manually. One might expect power assist for a $30,000-plus SUV. However, the illuminated carpeted cargo area has a 12-volt power port.   

The Tiguan has a larger, more powerful engine than the Taos. But all Taos models have a sophisticated 1.5-liter engine with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and a variable-geometry turbocharger. It produces a modest 158 horsepower but generates 184 pound/feet of torque at only 1,750 r.p.m. which results in quick responsiveness when the gas pedal is pressed.

The Taos 1.5T SEL AWD does 0-60 m.p.h. in 7.7 seconds and delivers an estimated 25 miles per gallon in the city and 32 on highways. The Taos SEL has an engine start/stop system to help fuel economy.

However, a driver must become familiar with the Taos SEL’s efficient, automatic  7-speed DSG (direct shift gearbox), which has a manual-shift feature. This SUV can be moderately unresponsive during quick on/off throttle applications in stop/go traffic. I soon got used to it and found there was no problem at cruising speeds. Moreover, acceleration in town becomes more linear when a driver switches the 3,430-pound Taos SEL AWD Taos from “Normal” to “Sport” mode.

In any case, my test Taos 1.5T AWD was fun to drive. The electro-mechanical variable-assist power steering was tight and quick. Handling was sharp, with little body lean on tight curves. And the ride was very supple for a 106-inch-wheelbase vehicle. A firm brake pedal helped this SUV to stop stop quickly and surely.

Helping keep things steady in tight curves were electronic stability control, the AWD system and the multi-link independent rear suspension, which allows a better ride and surer handling. A driver can select various modes with a console switch, including “On road,” “Snow,” and “Off Road” modes, although it’s doubtful if manyTaos drivers will take it off road.

The DSG and independent rear suspension come with the SEL’s AWD system. The lower-priced S and SE Taos models, which start with front-wheel-drive at $22,295, have a non-independent rear suspension and a conventional 8-speed automatic transmission.

Safety features include an advanced air bag protection system, electronic brake pressure distribution, lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control,  forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, road-sign display, active blind-spot monitor, rearview camera and rear traffic alert.

The original Volkswagen Beetle had a slow start in the 1950s, but the VW Taos is hitting the market at just the right time.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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