The SUV segment is a rapidly changing place, and when you have a void in your lineup, it can be quite noticeable. That was the predicament that Volkswagen was facing with the firm having a noticeable hole below its volume focused Tiguan SUV. With subcompact CUVs proving to be a very reliable honey hole for consumers, Volkswagen had to act quickly, and it has chosen to do so with the 2022 Volkswagen Taos. The Taos aims to bring instant success to Volkswagen, but can it fill the shoes left by the Golf?
Shrunken Tiguan wrapper creates distinctive look:
The Volkswagen Atlas and Tiguan helped bring some newfound direction to the brand’s utility lineup, and it appears that the Taos will continue to relish in this regard. At first glance, it looks like a shrunken version of the Tiguan, and that should please buyers that were fans of the balanced motif that that model brings to the table. The front fascia is very aggressive, and it features a very large intake in the lower bumper that is flanked by two smaller ones. We like the way it meshes with the rest of the front fascia, and it allows the Taos to have a very sporty and expressive demeanor when viewed from multiple angles.
The side profile features two distinct character lines, with the ever present lower plastic cladding bringing a pinch of ruggedness to go along with the flashy wheels. The rear fascia is arguably the Tao’s weakest link, but that doesn’t mean its all bad news for the tiny CUV, with the sharp taillights and the small roof mounted spoiler adding their own distinct charm to the design. Volkswagen designers even added a set of dual exhaust tips to the rear bumper, but chances are good that they are there just for show versus being solid indicators of a functional dual exhaust system.
“Taos is our fifth new addition to the Volkswagen SUV family in just four years, and we’re thrilled to keep finding new ways to meet the needs of American families,” said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “Taos will bookend our compact SUV offering, giving buyers all the style, technology, and drivability that Volkswagen is known for at an even more affordable price.”
Premium interior focuses on being value focused grand slam:
The interior of the Taos is arguably its strongest weapon, with Volkswagen designers placing a strong emphasis on simplicity and cleanliness while still retaining the high material quality that Volkswagen interiors are known for. Stylish pieces of interior trim help separate the touchscreen infotainment system from the doors, and the treatment actually flows right into the door inserts which helps the interior really pop when viewed from multiple angles. In perhaps a nod to its youth audience, the Taos comes with two tone seats as standard (no monotone here) but buyers can go for either the standard cloth seats or optional leather and leatherette thrones. Top tier Taos models even feature a handsome French Roast and black combination for extra dollups of style. Other goodies include standard automatic headlights, push button start, 8-way power adjustable seats, dual zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, and even a heated steering wheel. Buyers can also take advantage of the heated and cooled front seats for true four season comfort.
The Taos also manages to maintain a solid poker face when it comes to infotainment, with the model featuring an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Certain trims also have the ability to replace the analog instruments with the company’s familiar Driver Cockpit digital instrument cluster. We are big fans of the vibrant display, as well as how configurable it is for drivers that want to put their own unique spin on the screen’s content.
But amid all the standard equipment and the novel technology,, we are disappointed to see that the Taos has no active safety features as standard equipment. A notable omission from the standard list is Automatic Emergency Braking, which is glaring since there are other models in the Tao’s segment that all offer advanced safety suites as standard equipment. While Volkswagen is perhaps making it optional to get buyers to pay more for their purchase, it just doesn’t sit well with us, considering that the optional technology suite does bring welcome items such as Forward Collision Alert and adaptive cruise control to the Taos.
Brisk performance gives the Taos a whole new groove:
But while Volkswagen might have whiffed in that category, there’s no denying that engineers wanted to give the Taos a very potent set of dancing shoes for the rigors of the daily commute. In this instance, that means a standard 1.5 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine which is a variant of the EA211 engine that also sees duty in the Jetta sedan. Here, it makes 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, but drive configuration will play a role in determining what transmission will be equipped. Front wheel drive models come with an eight speed automatic, while 4-Motion equipped versions are paired with a seven speed dual-clutch transmission. This performance is roughly on par with the bulk of the segment, but the Taos is a bit under gunned when viewed against slightly more powerful entries like the Jeep Compass.
Volkswagen did not release formal performance figures for the engine, but the company is claiming that it will feature a number of features that will help greatly enhance fuel economy. The performance here is roughly on par with others in its segment, but we will have to wait until we have the opportunity to sample a Taos for ourselves to see whether any of these supposed features can indeed succeed in delivering their green benefits.
Volkswagen also did not release pricing information for the Taos, but did confirm that three trim levels will be offered (S, SE, and SEL.) We suspect that the Taos will be slightly lower than the base Tiguan, but it would still firmly be in the $20,000 price range. That should please some budget focused shoppers, especially those that might be turned off by the Tiguan’s higher pricing ladder. The 2022 Taos is scheduled to launch in summer of 2021, so look for more information to be revealed as that period of time draws near.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.