The Golf is no longer available, other than in high performance (GTi, $31,500) and higher-performance (R, $45,000) forms. As it transitions away from cars, the Taos is the entry level hatchback in the Volkswagen family.
The compact 2022 Taos slots in beneath the Tiguan, Atlas CrossSport and Atlas in Volkswagen’s crossover arsenal.
The style makes it easily identifiable as a Volkswagen and the size places it in the gap between sub-compact and compact crossovers – larger than the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, and Toyota C-HR, but smaller than the CR-V, Tucson and RAV4.
The Taos comes in three trim levels Trendline ($26,700), Comfortline ($32,400) and Highline ($36,700).
The Trendline comes in front-wheel-drive, all others have VW’s excellent 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. All are powered by the same turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine. The FWD Trendline has a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission. AWD versions are mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
I don’t see many Canadians choosing the FWD Taos.
I suspect the volume model will be the Trendline with 4Motion at $29,200. That gets you automatic LED headlights, 17-in alloy wheels, heated front seats, keyless entry with push button start, electronic parking brake, cruise control, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, power heated mirrors, heated washer nozzles and air conditioning.
The Taos boasts a roomy and well executed interior. There is more room for four adults than the exterior dimensions would have you expect from the outside and clearly more than the competition.
The rear seat provides actual head and leg room for tall people, even with a sunroof. The cargo space is equally impressive with 700 litres of space behind the rear seat and 1,885 with it folded down. That space is also lump free – flat!
VW’s ski pass-through will be welcome for those wishing for that feature. It could obviously be used for hockey sticks and similar lengthy gear.
The driver faces a configurable 26-centimetre digital cluster.
The 20-cm infotainment screen on the tester was smaller than some, but larger than the diminutive 16-cm screen on lower Taos trim levels. It is however, easier to use than most and allows manual tuning and an actual knob for adjusting volume. The system supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and at this trim level boasts an eight-speaker Beats audio system.
Kudos to VW for USB-C charging ports throughout.
Power, but not quite enough of it, comes from a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine.
At 158 horsepower and 184 lb.ft. of torque, it falls a bit short in comparison to the competition.
Acceleration from rest to 100 km/hr takes a leisurely 8.5 seconds. I averaged about 8.5 litres/100 km for a week of mixed urban and rural driving, about average for the class.
The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is first rate, sending power to the front wheels until things get slippery. At that point it shuttles up to 50% of engine output rearward. The transition is seamless.
The dual clutch automatic transmission can be caught off guard in a few specific situations. For example, when getting back on the throttle, after slowing, it stumbles slightly until a gear is selected.
Three different drive modes are available: Normal, Sport and Individual. Sport tightens up the steering, quickens throttle response and shifts. Individual allows the driver to tailor things to his or her liking.
The ride is a tad on the stiff side but composed over all surfaces.
AWD versions of the Taos benefit from a multi-link rear suspension. This shows over rough surfaces which would have the torsion beam of the FWD hopping about. It only takes a few minutes at the wheel on a less than perfect road with corners to appreciate the excellent balance of ride and handling. Those who like to drive will find this a very enjoyable small crossover.
The new Taos is an important vehicle for Volkswagen.
While it may be late to the party, it gives the company an entry in a rapidly growing segment. It also gives orphaned Golf owners a logical step up if they follow the trend away from cars. It may cost a few thousand more than the competition in an apples-to-apples comparison, but leaps ahead when it comes to useable interior space.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2022 Volkswagen Taos Highline
As tested: $40,245 including freight
LED headlights, park distance control, blind spot monitoring with rear traffic alert, lane assist and emergency assist, pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, dynamic road sign display, autonomous emergency braking with front assist
20-cm touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wireless smart phone integration, eight-speaker Beats audio system, satellite radio, navigation system
Heated and ventilated front seats, leather seating surfaces, panoramic sunroof, eight-way power driver’s seat, keyless access with push button start, dual zone automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control
19-in alloy wheels, $500; advanced drive assistance package, $1,000
turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder, 158-horsepower, 184 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel. Seven speed dual clutch automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 9.5/7.4
Length, 4,466 mm; width, 1,841 mm; wheelbase, 2,689 mm; weight, 1,556 kg
Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota RAV4