VW’s newest model, its smallest crossover for Canada, aims to please.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens. There are always more photos at the end of my reviews.
Pricing: 2022 VW Taos
Base price (Highline trim): $36,695
Options: $500 19″ allow wheel package; $1,000 Advanced Driver Assistance Package
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $40,245
VW’s newest model, the Taos, is the smallest crossover they offer here. Considering the practical Golf is no more (unless you look to the performance-oriented GTI or Golf R), and not everyone wants a sedan, this might be the most affordable way to get into a compact yet practical VW these days.
Don’t let my top-of-the-line tester’s price scare you. The Taos does start much lower – at $26,695.
I never really liked the Taos’ looks before I saw a real one, yet others have mentioned that they’re quite handsome. Now I know why. Pictures don’t do the styling justice and it’s much nicer to look at in pictures where it really comes together as a cohesive design thanks to clean lines and excellent proportions.
I loved my review vehicle’s Pure Grey paint, and the optional 19-inch rims look fantastic. They’re shod with meaty 225/45-sized rubber, although sadly they were all-season tires, which hampered the vehicles abilities in our Alberta winter driving.
All the lighting is LED – headlights, nifty tail lights and driving lights as well. We all loved the super-cool full-width LED signature lighting strip across the grille – it’s a neat effect when it gets dark.
Stepping into the Taos shows its entry-level status in the VW family – although this top Highline trim comes very nicely equipped, you can’t miss the hard plastics everywhere including the entire dash, the entire centre console and most of the door panels. There are some attempts to take things up a notch, such as stitched panels here and there.
I do like the colour scheme – the seats are kind of two-tone, and everything above the door line is a lighter colour, which brightens up the otherwise dark and sombre interior. The ambient lighting (with 10 colours to choose from) helps too.
The heated and ventilated leather (yes, it’s real leather here) seats are firm but very comfortable – the driver’s side is power-adjustable.
Ahead of the driver is a 10.25″ digital dash – it looks fantastic and the driver information portion in the centre is nicely configurable.
The dash-based 8-inch touchscreen handles audio, phone and navigation functions. The Taos has nicely integrated wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and a wireless charging mat under the centre stack – above it you’ll also find 2 USB-C charging ports as well as a 12V plug.
The sound system is Beats-branded, boasting 8 speakers and a subwoofer – it’s fine, but nothing special. Below the main screen is the dual-zone climate control. You’ll find a massive panoramic sunroof overhead.
Driver assistance technology is pretty complete. There’s blind-spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane assist, pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, road sign detection, front braking assist, a back-up camera and rear parking sensors.
VW has definitely relegated rear passengers to a lower-class place in the last few years. There are no niceties such as stitched panels, etc. – you’re just surrounded by a sea of dark, hard plastics. At least the seating is comfortable, and there is plenty of leg and head room. As a matter of fact, at 5’10”, I had nearly a foot of knee room behind my own driving position. As is typical, the middle seating position is raised and straddles a floor tunnel – but it still accommodates a third adult passenger if required.
Rear passengers get one USB-C charger and adjustable air vents – the middle seatback folds down to become an armrest with some cupholders. If you are transporting little ones, you get two sets of ISOFIX anchors for child seats.
The top centre of the dash has a drop-in bin, but it’s open as well as not rubberized so anything you put in there could easily fly out. Under the armrest is a smallish, tall storage space as well.
The trunk is quite sizeable at 790L with a nice low load floor. The rear seats fold down in a 60/40-split but not flush with the trunk, so folded down, they are higher than the trunk floor. But that opens up a gargantuan 1866L cargo space. There is a hard parcel shelf that swings out of the way when you open the trunk – it’s removable too.
There’s also a pass-through behind the middle rear seat – we used it and easily fit three pairs of skis and poles through it. There is a 12V plug in the trunk for plugging in accessories.
Under the Hood
The Taos comes with one engine choice – a turbocharged 1.5L 4-cylinder that puts out 158 HP at 5,500 RPM and 184 lb.ft of torque at 1,750 RPM. It’s paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and a 4MOTION all-wheel drive system. Fuel economy is rated at 9.5/7.4 L/100 km (city/highway).
We were grateful for the remote starter on cold winter mornings.
VW has done a good job of maximizing the power available with the transmission’s gearing – off the line, it feels plenty powerful. Once you’re moving, you’ll need to give it a bit to summon up the requisite power to do things like passing on the highway, but even then, it’s never really underpowered. It is fine for any normal driving situations.
Where I took issue is with the transmission. It’s just not great. I found it to be lurchy on occasion, but also somewhat lazy. Often when you need to get going, it feels stuck in the wrong gear and that can freak you out when you’re trying to pull into moving traffic and your Taos is trying to figure out what gear to be in. The transmission has a Sport mode and you can shift gears manually using the gear selector.
The ride is firm, and occasionally got a bit crashy over big road imperfections owing mostly to the low profile tires. I found the Taos’ handling to be very good overall and the all-wheel drive system does a fine job trying to find traction – although this one did not have winter tires, and in the week I had the Taos, we had two freezing rain storms. A vehicle can only do so much with all-season tires, and it often got a bit scary. That’s not the vehicle’s fault and obviously anyone buying any vehicle should be using winter tires.
There are also a number of driving and “Off Road” modes which are more or less driving surface modes. You can choose between Eco, Normal and Sport and then Off Road Auto, Off Road Custom and Snow modes.
Visibility out of the Taos is great for the most part – as with most crossovers, the rear headrests impede the rear view a bit, but it’s not a big deal.
It’s not a big deal to me, but I think there will be buyers who do not appreciate that a power liftgate is not available in the Taos.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, and will keep saying it. I hate the fake exhaust outlets integrated into the bumper. It drives me nuts that a) they are fake and b) that they obviously put effort into making them look real. Why?! It’s just fine to have hidden exhaust tips under the rear bumper – you don’t need to try to fake people out with this garbage. This is a current styling exercise for VWs and Audis and it drives me nuts.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was pretty high. She liked how it drove and said it was easy to handle on the road as well as for parking. She did feel the interior had a cheapness about it in terms of materials.
Overall, I really liked the Taos. It does most things well. It’s comfortable, it has plenty of space and utility, it looks good and it drives nicely. This is a very, very crowded market space though – and for $40,000, you have a lot of excellent choices. Make sure you’re driving them all so you know you’ve picked the best fit for your needs. But the Taos deserves to be on the shopping list for sure.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by VW Canada.
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