It’s all fun with the all-new Taos, a modest, handsome, can-do chugger which would make a great first car, a cozy commuter or just a pleasant-looking vehicle in your driveway.
That’s good news for Volkswagen, who took the bit of shellacking in 2021. The Volkswagen brand saw an 8.1% drop in sales to just under 4.9 million units, reports Reuters, with the biggest fall in China at 14.8%, although battery-electric vehicle sales in that country quadrupled.
The Taos doesn’t go off-road, nor is it an electric or a hybrid, so one does not feel particularly aggressive or progressive when navigating. It does have smooth road manners coupled with crisp handling, its interior is neat and unfussy as well as easy to get in and out of, and it’s got a surprisingly large cargo hold for its size.
Its tech is clear and simple to use – other manufacturers would do well to emulate it – and, for such a non-hip machine, it’s rather attractive inside overall, with twinkly accents and an ever-so spaceshippish visage.
Sure, it’s noisy at speed, and it took us a while to figure out exactly when our Toas was going to downshift. (It does, eventually.) But once it was understood that we were dealing with a dinkly-winkly turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, all was forgiven. You know how an SUV can turn an ordinarily mild-mannered human into a roadhog? The Taos will turn you into a chill Buddha behind the wheel.
The Taos is all-new for 2022
They’re calling this a subcompact SUV, but I beg to differ – until I read the press materials I was certain I was driving a “hatchback.” You’ve got two rows, after all. But times change and terminology changes, and SUVs are hotter than ever.
But let’s go along for now. The Taos is meant to appeal to those who admire VW’s Tiguan but want a little less metal. The Taos’ main competition is supposed to be the Mazda CX-30 and the Honda HR-V. But I found it nothing like those two vehicles, both of which I’ve tested in the past year.
Which model is “best?”
Volkswagen offers the 2022 Taos in S, SE and SEL trim levels, all with the same engine. Trims with front-wheel drive are coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel-drive model uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic as well as a more refined rear suspension providing slightly better handling around corners.
The SE is recommended as it comes with the most “stuff.” But take a look here at the possibilities. You don’t get the absolute pinnacle of infotainment technologies but the SE offers a more complete collection of collision avoidance and driving assistance systems you need in a small vehicle. It’s also available with a panoramic sunroof and black wheels.
The drive, over highways, in the city and up a mountain or two, was passable – steering, acceleration and handling are all what one expects of a vehicle this size and style. Mileage is a healthy-but-not-fantastic 28 MPG city/highway combined.
I really liked the digital instrument cluster, customizable to display anything from your current song to turn-by-turn directions, and you can do that from the nav sys or from your phone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone integration. I don’t like those apps – I just use Bluetooth – and that works fine, too. The vehicle is also easy to find in parking lots.
There is much right and very little wrong in this cute-as-a-button new vehicle. Prices for my tester trim, the SE, start at $28,695, $32,380 with all options. Check VWs site for more pricing/trim info.