IT TAKES A PUEBLO VILLAGE: At the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains there is an early 2nd Millennium adobe dwelling community which the Tiwa Puebloan indigenous Americans peoples call the place “Tao” or “toward the village at the red willow canyon mouth.”
What was once an important place of Native American tribes trading for autumn harvests, the Taos Pueblo is the stunning backdrop for one of the toniest southern Rocky Mountain resort communities, which dates to Coronadan Spanish settlement in the 1600s. Today, Taos, New Mexico at over 6,000 feet in elevation in not just one of the best places to ski in North America but it has a thriving artist in residency community.
NEW MEXICAN USEFUL CUTIE: it was in that very same New Mexico artists’ enclave where, John Muir, the drop-out aerospace engineer converted to published air cooled VW indie mechanic, with hippie VW owner following, took up residence in the 1960s. Not lost upon Volkswagen, the German automaker decided to market its latest North America specific small SUV with the name of the air cooled VW hippie haven. Importantly to Americans in general, and Rockies skiers in particular, an new 2022 Volkswagen Taos crossover SUV arrives with more room and traction versatility than the Golf hatchback it replaces.
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WHAT: 2022 Volkswagen Taos SE 4-Motion 2- Row subcompact crossover sport activity vehicle, based on the carmakers Modular Transverse Matrix MQB A1 platform, nearly squaring dimensionally with the former global Tiguan Mk. 1.
Std. Power: transverse 1.5L DOHC 16V SI intercooled turbocharged gas I-4 = 158 hp/ 184 lb-ft + 8-spd. torque converter planetary automatic front wheel drive transaxle, w/ start/ stop idle.
Opt. Powertrain : 7-spd. dual clutch automated helical transaxle + Haldex PTU to multi-plate wet clutch differential torque vectoring variable all-wheel drive, w/ front e-limited slip differential, rear axle disconnect.
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: A stubby rendition of the North American market Tiguan LWB, the latter which morphed to large mid-size, it is no surprise that the new 2022 VW Taos fills the dimensional void left by the global Mk. 1 Tiguan in America. More boxy and less steamlined than the Mk. 1 Tiguan, the 2022 Taos is an appeal to all the People’s effort.
Not quite an SAV coupe, the new Volkswagen Taos borrows on the newer VW Atlas Cross Sport‘s bowl style twin valley hood, bold cheatline crease and scooped lower doors, and a raked descending rear roofline. Dark lower cladding permeates even the large wheel arches, while lower body cladding simulates truck-style running boards. The latest VW fad is a chrome boomerang bar model name plate where mid fender meets front door.
-Borrowing from VW Atlas Cross Sport features: Slightly recessed tri-bar honeycomb grille, chrome upper and lower, dark center. Piano black mid bumper forms bowtie to cradle grille & wrap around headlamps w/ LED DRLs, then looping at the front lower corners to create folds. Lower fascia dark grey honeycombed.
-The new split letter “VW” front and aft badge debuts.
Slightly Kammback upper liftgate tilt, folding and scalloped mid section; “TAOS” lettering spelled along liftgate bottom edge below license plates. √ Split wrap-around inverse lateral hockey stick tail-light housings; √ Chrome dual corner exhaust cut-outs in inverted “U” lower dark clad honeycomb imprint fascia.
Front and rear lower satin metallic + 4 dark cladding striped imitation skid plate.
WHY: Batting in place the standard Mk. 8 Golf hatchback car which has been banned from the American league.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since early Spring 2020
WHERE: Volkswagen new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Puebla, Mexico
WHERE TO: √ available Haldex all-wheel drive, e-varies front/ rear traction from 90/10% – lockable at maximum 50/50%; √ Rear e-clutch differential limits the slip; √ Selectable and Driver customizable Off-Road modes aided by ABS descent control; √ 6.6″ inched ground clearance = Inclement weather challenger.
HOW ROADWORTHY: Relative to the standard North American Mk. 7 VW Jetta‘s (and Mk. 7 Golf‘s) EA 211 engine, the 2022 VW Taos is propelled by the 100 cc greater bored European version. Taos 1.5 TSI’s power might be up 11 horsepower but it must carry 557 or 20% additional pounds versus a Mk. 7 Golf (15% > Mk. 7 Jetta). Opting for the 4Motion all-wheel driver variant nets a snappy 7-speed auto dual clutch gearbox suited to passing at speed, which exhibits abrupt 1st to 2nd shifts. Clearly fuel economy is decent for the small SUV class. However the last outgoing Mk. 7 VW Golf scored 25% less consumption.
Teutonically taut and spry is how Roadblazing,com has assessed the Mk. 7 Golf. The new VW Taos, while sporting an independent MQB chassis and Jetta‘s longer wheelbase, is eager to hold the line but dulls reflexes such that they don’t burden the helmsman. Damping resoundingly slows rather than mutes bump surprises. Steering languishes during sharper inputs. Initial travel of disc brake pedal is meek in response. The new 2022 Taos does shine with an admirable amount of cabin quiet.
HOW FAR: 29 combined miles per gallon. 508 miles highway range per tankful 87 AKI unleaded fuel.
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ 5 Occupant seating; √ 2 average adults plus one tween treated to a class spacious 2nd Row
- Class leading wheelbase
- Just +1.2″ inches ground clearance vs. Mk. 7 Golf for easy ingress & egress.
- More than 2.0″ inches greater front headroom vs. Mk. 7 Golf for added spaciousness.
- -1 Narrow front seat cushions
- 2022 VW Taos 4Motion wheelbase: 105.9″ inches: 6.7″ > Ford Ecosport; 3.5″ > Hyundai Kona
- 37.9″ inches Row 2 legroom: 1.2″ > Ford Ecosport, 3.3″ < Hyundai Kona
- Cargo Volume: 24.9 cu ft. nominal: 16% > Ford Ecosport, 22% > Hyundai Kona
- Cargo Volume: 60.2 cu ft. maximum: 17 % > Ford Ecosport, 24% > Hyundai Kona
- Tow rating: 1500 lbs: 500 lbs. < Ford Ecosport, N.R. > Hyundai Kona
HOW USEFUL: 2022 VW Taos devours the rest of the subcompact crossover competition when it comes to cargo appetite.
- +1 Low load floor; Tall greenhouse helps minimizes side blindspots; 60/40% split 2nd Row seat back folds flat above cargo floor level; Hard cargo floor latches open; Center cargo pass through; Deep center armrest bin colored contrasting white for better visibility.
- +/- Spacious, but uncovered, lower center stack wireless device connections storage; Marginal sub-floor storage
- -1 Short center arm rest bin; Fixed center armrest; Tall tailgate lift height; Power liftgate only on SEL trim
HOW SAFE: √ 6 airbags; √ IIHS – Good marks, Small overlap front passenger side = AVERAGE; √ Rear camera; DRIVER ASSISTANCE (IQ Drive) = ♦ Forward collision avoidance braking; ♦ Pedestrian avoidance braking
Available IQ Drive semi autonomous driving suite: (as package on trims below SEL): ♦ Full adaptive cruise control, ♦ Park Distance warning (SE and up); ♦ Partial autonomous Lane Maintenance, ♦ Adaptive LED headlights, Automatic high beams ; ♦ Rear Cross-traffic warning
Standard on SEL: ♦ Park distance warning; ♦ Road sign display
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: A modern all glass cockpit & intuitive Teutonic control layout is let down by a more industrial dashboard and door panel materials.
√ Leatherette seating – √ Heated 8-way driver power, 4-way front passenger manual seats; √ Leatherette steering wheel with spoke integrated tactile redundant controls; √ 1-zone automatic climate control; -1 Fixed front center armrest; -1 Limited steering wheel reach adjustment; -1 Unyielding seat cushions;
Cool Gizmo(s): √ Tablet-style glass panel high-contrast touch-gesture LCD infotainment screen; √ Digital Cockpit configurable LCD instrument cluster
Details Done Right: √ Soft padding where arms touch cabin panels; √ Brushed metal door sill plates
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Toy-like hard blue contrasting upper dash panel; Coarse grain below waist-height plastic cabin trim; Glossy tablet style infotainment screen = “fingerprint magnet.”; Lacks Golf’s felt lined door pockets.
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ MIB 3 tablet style 8.0″ flat-panel capacative touch LCD infotainment screen w/ hand proximity menu populating & gesture selection control; √ enhanced Voice command hands-free Bluetooth communications; √ wireless Android Auto, Apple Car Play, MirrorLink smart phone apps; √ 180 W, 6- speaker streaming audio; √ VW Media Control media playback on connected in-cabin mobile devices; √ USB-C x 3, 12V x 2 (1 x cargo)
BY SUBSCRIPTION: √ VW Car-Net telematics; √ Sirius XM 360L (90 days trial)
HOW MUCH: $28,900 = 2022 Volkswagen Taos SE 4Motion as tested
WHAT’S MISSING: Less abrupt 1st → 2nd gear DCT shift; More eye catching cabin materials; More standard autonomous driving features
ANY COMPETITION: Ford Ecosport: +1 Swing gate; Sync3 infotainment; Hyundai Kona: engine options, standard autonomous driving features; Nissan Rogue Sport: +1 standard autonomous driving features, fuel economy
FINAL WORD: Replacement in VW’s American lineup for the Mk. 8 standard Golf, but with more standard Jetta attributes.
Contributing Editor: S. Frissell