Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: January 1, 2022
The Volkswagen Taos is a new subcompact SUV that slots underneath the Tiguan, but it’s actually one of the largest SUVs in its class. Volkswagen has been closely monitoring the growing trend of automotive crossovers, and have listened to customers that demanded an SUV with a small footprint but with generous packaging. Those who think the Mazda CX-30, Kia Seltos, and Subaru Crosstrek are too tight for space but don’t want to step up to a larger SUV, might find solace in the new Taos.
The Taos is a handsome crossover and appears more like a shrunken down Atlas than a jacked up Golf. Looks absolutely mega in Cornflower Blue as well. There’s style and substance to Volkswagen’s new entry-level model, with a flashy LED light bar displayed along the front grill, and large wheel arches that allude to its cavernous interior.
Which is relatively massive. Size is definitely a plus, and our passengers have constantly been enamoured by the generous rear seat space, and the expansive panoramic sunroof. There’s more wiggle room in here than even a BMW 3 Series. Headroom is excellent no matter which of the five seats you choose, and while dark black plastics is the name of the game, the overall cabin is dressed up nicely with a leather flat-bottom steering wheel, VW’s Digital Cockpit display, and the latest infotainment touchscreen unit. All the latest gadgets and gizmos are available in the Taos as well with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, remote engine start, and a BeatsAudio premium sound system.
Both front- and all-wheel drive variants of the Taos utilize a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 158 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. There’s nothing incredibly noteworthy about this powerplant. It’s not the most eager or grittiest of four-pots but it does its job. You wouldn’t even know it’s turbocharged due to the lack of low-end thrust, and while not as peppy off the line as a CX-30 Turbo, it is definitely more linear. The initial travel of the gas pedal is a little too pokey and aggressive for our liking, reminding us of the Subaru Forester’s gas pedal, as it makes it tricky to accelerate smoothly from a stop.
The 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox is far from a smooth operator, as it’s jerky and inconsistent with shifts, especially from a cold start. I’ve driven CVTs with more polish, and the transmission consistently exposes its rough edges during low-speed rolls. It feels half baked, and while not as jagged around the edges as the Jeep Compass, it’s not nearly as polished as the Mazda’s 6-speed auto. On a side note, the front-wheel drive variants of the Taos utilize an 8-speed automatic instead, but we have yet to test drive that.
Thanks to a nimble wheelbase and 19-inch wheels, the Taos effortlessly changes directions with the aid of light but easy steering. Road control is excellent. It’s a far cry from the athleticism of a Golf, and doesn’t seem to channel in the fun driving dynamics that this MQB platform is capable of, but it’s perfectly acceptable in the Tao’s class of other somewhat mundane driving SUVs. High-speed stability is not this Volkswagen’s forte though, as a great deal of wind and tire noise seeps into the cabin at triple digit speeds, and wobbles the entire chassis as the gusts blow across, forcing you to counter steer and keep the Taos in its lane. Good thing for the expansive suite of safety features, from lane keep assist to blind spot monitoring. The adaptive cruise control works well too.
The Volkswagen Taos will undoubtedly be a crowd pleaser with its generous interior packaging, army of the latest cabin tech, and a handsome, shrunken-down-Atlas appearance. It doesn’t have the strongest engine, the most polished gearbox, nor the best on-road mannerisms in its class, but I’m sure the majority of prospective owners won’t mind as long as it will swallow everything they throw into it.
Model: 2022 Volkswagen Taos Highline
Paint Type: Cornflower Blue
Base Price: $36,695
Price as Tested: $38,195
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged inline-four cylinder
Horsepower: 158 hp
Torque: 184 lb-ft
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic DSG
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.6