2024 Volkswagen Taos 4Motion: New Mexican Cutie Counter-Point Review

2024 Volkswagen Taos 4Motion: New Mexican Cutie Counter-Point Review
2024 VW Taos SEL 4Motion: New Mexican cutie SUV exterior, front

VW’s Taos crossover or SUV, wears the now de rigueur exterior plastic cladding— black rocker covers and fender arches.  These suggest a rugged vehicle, but underneath it’s a car.  In SEL trim, this $35,260 all-wheel drive "soft-roader" has three driving modes plus several traction aids.


The 2024 Volkswagen Taos straddles the line between compact and subcompact-size vehicles.  The relatively short length belies cabin and cargo bay commodiousness rivaling competitors with larger footprints.  Second row legroom, for example, is just a shade shorter than that found in VW’s Tiguan mid size CUV.

America's baby Volkswagen utility vehicle wears the same corporate face as the firm’s larger crossovers.  On the surface, the body seems cast out of the chiseled mid-size Tiguan mold.  The hardware under VW Taos' skin, however, differs.  The powerplant is a turbocharged, 158-hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder mill with an alloy block (found on the Jetta sedan).  This engine benefits from several emissions & consumption reducing features.  During cold weather winter testing the 2024 Taos 4Motion with DSG delivered 28 miles per gallon on the highway an 25 mpg overall.  The EPA fuel economy figures are 27-mpg combined, 24 city and 32 highway. 

VW names its on-demand all-wheel drive system "4Motion." Featured on the tested vehicle, the transaxle is a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, referred to as DSG.  Front-drive Taos run on an eight-speed torque converter automatic.  Going with 4Motion upgrades from semi- to a fully independent rear suspension. Though that necessitates a higher cargo floor, it still includes the increasingly rarer donut spare tire.  To satisfy the large wheel fad, Taos SELs include 19-inch alloy wheels bound with 235 mm, 45 series Goodyear Assurance Finesse quiet low-rolling resistance tires.


2024 VW Taos 4Motion
2024 VW Taos SEL 4Motion: sign of all wheel drive

VW’s DSG, an automated manual transmission, is often utilized in high-performance models or thrifty diesels.  Yes, I said the D word.  

In this application, the DSG has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality.  Touch the go pedal, and maybe Mr. Hyde responds with peppery sense of urgency.  After that, thrust is average for its class.  In the smooth-road burbs, the Taos shuffles gears politely keeping the engine rpm between 1,800 and 2,500.  

Then there are the dreaded moments Dr. Jekyll appears in the 2024 VW Taos 4Motion.  To deliver their snappy shifts, dual clutch DSG transaxles have the attendant planetary gear trait of engine speed falling during clutch disengagement / engagement sensations.  Despite one clutch pre-engaging one gear while another prepares to disengage the previous, the handoff is never seamless.  This condition is more true moving from a stop, and its magnified by the auto-stop idle system.  Sometimes the VW Taos 4Motion jolts forward with a slight stab of the go pedal, occasionally strong enough to lock the seatbelts.  During cornering maneuvers, the little VW SUV gets carried away with three gear changes, when one is enough.  When the Taos comes to a halt, by dumping its clutch at each downshift, it magnifies your slow-pedal modulation. 


2024 VW Taos 4Motion engine
2024 VW Taos SEL 4Motion: 1.5T DOHC engine

Though occasionally uncouth, the automated dual clutch box in the VW Taos 4Motion never stalled the engine.  Tender drivers, might prefer the front-drive Taos' authentic planetary automatic slush box for slushier action.

For 2024, VW’s IQ.Drive driver assist suite is standard on all trims.  You get lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control with start and stop, rear-traffic assist and a pedestrian monitor.  Taos SEL trim employs VW’s 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit instrument screen.  Other SEL items include leather-clad heated/ventilated seating, a panoramic sunroof, Beats Audio sound and an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen. 

2024 VW Taos 4Motion cabin, night
2024 VW Taos SEL 4Motion: cabin at night

Interior stitchwork, contrasting materials and ambient LED lighting add panache to an otherwise plasticky interior.  The hard-shell dash top and glossy plastic dash fascia seem low-rent for more than $35k. VW offsets the ordinary bits with a hemmed headliner, soft-touch front door cards and thickly padded armrests.  It even routes cold air to the wireless charging phone alcove. 

Second row 60/40% split folding rear seatbacks have a center armrest/pass thru and both front seat backrests have rear pockets.  Rear seat occupants are treated to climate face vents and a single USB-C port aft of the front center console, but they must make do with hard door cards.  For an Elstar to Fuji apples to apples match-up, the similarly sized and kitted petrol Toyota Corolla Cross AWD is in the same dollar ballpark.

Volkswagen's MIB 3 driver interface, however, is as muddled as some corporate mergers.  For example, the 2024 VW Taos doesn’t have in instrument panel illumination rheostat near its headlight switch.  Instead, that basic control has been moved into the infotainment menu.  At least driver assistance lane keep control can be disabled using the the turn signal stalk button, then confirming with the steering wheel spoke "OK" button.


2024 VW Taos 4Motion cabin storage
2024 VW Taos SEL 4Motion: 1st Row center stack map pocket

The infotainment system is confounding.  Phone pairing, for example, went south.  The wireless scheme with my Android phone seemed fine.  When I restarted the vehicle with my phone failed to pair. I suspect VW’s software wanted to use a prior driver’s Android Auto app.  I didn’t notice the touchscreen’s app button.  Thus, I tried pairing and forgetting devices multiple times.

VW’s nifty native navigation setup has its own quirks. Apparently Volkswagen doesn't like loud voices in the first row of the Taos, since they can automatically trigger the onboard voice assistant.  A mapping issue presented two different destinations when requesting a route to this journalist's home street number address. The smart aleck Taos MIB3 spat back the same street number for the neighboring town of Brown Deer, located within the same County of Milwaukee, though located some thirty blocks away.

Additionally, the tested Taos SEL exhibited some navigation lag error.  The result could be routing one block past a desired destination, while the map screen continues to display the intended address. 

2024 VW Taos 4Motion panorama roof
2024 VW Taos SEL 4Motion: available panorama roof

The 2024 VW Taos SEL’s 19-inch tires clop like a Clydesdale on Milwaukee’s cratered pavement.  Pick sport mode or set the custom drive mode for sport.  The tiller effort increases when you dial off center, when carving a cloverleaf.  This extra heft helps you guide this rig.  Body roll is suppressed and the Taos appears well planted.  The choppy tire/wheel behavior reduces confidence on heaved expansion joints.

2022 Volkswagen Taos SE 4Motion - Bottom Line Review
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

It can be argued that the 2024 Volkswagen Taos is that spacious conveyance in a budget minded tidy Teutonic package. Short of absolute enchantment promised by its namesake town's 47th American state, this New Mexican cutie still has some trickery up its sleeve, likely inspired by the sacred Pueblo Kachina clown dolls.

2024 VW Taos 4Motion exterior, side
2024 VW Taos SEL 4Motion: exterior, side
The 2024 Volkswagen Taos 4Motion "soft roader" is a whole lot more useful, though less driving- ful, than the standard Golf hatchback it replaced in America.