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As consumer’s glam towards the idea of an affordable crossover, there are still a few manufactures out there that have yet to hop onto the sub-ute crossover bandwagon – Volkswagen being one of them. That has changed however with the addition of the all-new Taos. The Taos is Volkswagen take on the sub-compact crossover that competes alongside the Kia Seltos, Hyundai Kona, Nissan Rouge Sport, Jeep Compass, Mazda CX-30, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR.

As you can see, there are several options out there in the sub compact crossover market and with the Taos being a little late to the party, Volkswagen had time to figure out the do’s and don’ts of market…

In general fashion, Volkswagen kept things very Volkswagen-y carrying a simple sense of minimalism on the exterior which should age well over time.. The Taos is a great looking crossover for it size and its proportions almost look as big as its larger slated Tiguan. The angles are sharply defined with subtle creases in the body panels and lower black plastic body cladding gives it an athletic, adventurous appeal. Standard across all trim options, the Taos is equipped with LED headlights and attractively distinguished LED taillights.

The interior carries its Volkswagen theme as well utilizing clean lines and simple touch of plainness. With most of the reachable, touchable surfaces being covered in a soft, leatherette material, the cabin felt a little more in line of a nicely outfitted Tiguan or Golf. Even the seats consisted of a part cloth part leatherette material that was intriguing and tasteful as the seats provided a comfortable atmosphere. The same notations can be said for the generously sized back seat that also offers air vents and a c-port plug-in.

Over the entry level S, the major, noticeable upgrades to our SE trim featured a larger, 8-inch touch infotainment display over the standard 6.5-inch. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert and heated seats also come standard on the SE trim. But even on the base S, Volkswagen encompasses the trendy digital cockpit that replaces old-school analog gauges. The updated tech within the 8-inch screen is beautifully displayed with crisp responses to inputs and also offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. While a bit gimmicky, the digital cockpit is a cool feature for the youthful demographic – it offers three different viewing options for speed and RPM display but lacks an overall customization, but we’re not going to harp too much on that. After all, the SEL on the other hand does feature a more advance version of the digital cockpit.

Powered by a completely new engine, a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, the Taos has quite the pep-in-its-step. It makes up a feisty dose of 158-horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque that requires roughly 8-seconds to achieve 60-mph from a standstill. That may not be anything worth bragging about but it gets the job done.

The Taos spirited personality is only half the story however. While the Taos can be had with Volkswagen 4Motion All-Wheel Drive and 7-speed automatic, our front-wheel drive had the not-so-much-pleasure of working with an 8-speed automatic. Feeling like it was always stuck in an eco-drive mode; there was so much turbo-lag and hesitant communication between the turbocharger and the transmission that we constantly felt like we were playing footsies with the gas pedal to find a comfortable balance in acceleration. It always seemed as if we were placed in an uncomfortable situation where we needed brisk performance to step in, but because the turbocharger wouldn’t respond until roughly 2500rpms, we had this awkward lift-off from the turbocharger that would cause the transmission to downshift causing an unwarranted peel out in front of old ladies at a crosswalk. Sorry about that mam’. Allegedly, we’ve heard from an unnamed source that this isn’t necessarily a problem in the all-wheel drive variant.

If there was an upside to its erratic performance behavior, it’s that there is  a sense of Golf-ness running through its chassis. Despite the front-wheel and all-wheel drive options using completely different suspension setups, the front-wheel drive version here had decent road responsiveness. The suspension wasn’t too firm or too tight and the steering was more of the same with controllable inputs and decent feedback.

There are three trim options with the Taos S starting at $22,995 and working its way up to the top tiered SEL at $31,490. Our supplied sampler arrived as the middle child wearing the SE badge and a starting price of $27,245. Skimping on the options list of the $1200 Panoramic Sunroof, the $395 18-inch black wheels and the $895 IQ.Drive Convenience package that could have been equipped with Adaptive Cruise Control, High Beam Control, Rain Sensing Wipers and Emergency Assistance for Lane, Travel and Forward collision – our SE was left to the simple basics of its standard equipment. 

It’s hard to look back at when the sub-compact crossovers market first really took off – in retrospect, the first generation Tiguan would technically be considered a sub-ute crossover by today standards. But even if we go back the last 4 years, that’s 4 years Volkswagen had to learn from the mistakes of its competitions. The Taos has the makings of great little ute and all the right ingredients are there, but its awkwardness in performance behavior makes it annoying to drive and hard to live with on a daily basis. The Taos is also quite expensive over its competition – competitively speaking, a similarly equipped and better to drive Mazda CX-30 starts at $24,050 and even the highest trimmed Kia Seltos SX Turbo with standard all-wheel drive and capable of 0-60 in 6.5-seconds is only $745 more than our SE model. Ultimately, the Volkswagen Taos should’ve been the best in the segment as they are nearly the last to arrive, and they were so close, but yet they’re also so far away.


Vehicle: 2022 Volkswagen Taos SE
Base Price: $22,995
As-Tested Price: $28,440


Engine: 1.5-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder
Horsepower | Torque: 158-Horsepower | 184lb-ft of Torque
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive
MPG: 28 | 36| 31 (City | Highway | Combined)
As-Tested MPG: 25.3-MPG City
Fuel Range: 300 miles
0-60 MPH: ±8.0 seconds

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