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Kelley Blue Book: The new 2022 VW Taos: a spirited SUV with impressive handling

Pros

Smallest SUV from Volkswagen

Powerful & efficient new 1.5-liter engine

Comfortable ride, solid handling

Handsome styling

Cons

Looks too much like VW’s other SUVs?

IQ.Drive safety suite not standard on S and SE

AWD Taos has slightly less cargo room

AWD costs 4 mpg on the highway

What’s new?

The VW Taos is all-new for 2022

Price: The 2022 Volkswagen Taos S has a starting price of $23,295, plus a destination charge.

Other Taos models are the SE (from $27,545), and the SEL (from $31,790).

Volkswagen’s
VWAGY,
+1.51%

new compact 5-seater SUV looks like a junior Atlas, and it’s 9.3 inches shorter than the Tiguan.

The new Taos (it rhymes with “house”) is powered by an excellent new engine, a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder that puts out 158 horsepower and a healthy 184 lb-ft of torque at only 1,750 rpm. An advanced Miller Cycle powerplant with variable turbine geometry, the Taos powerplant is more powerful and fuel-efficient than the turbo 1.4-liter used in the Jetta sedan.

Front-wheel-drive (FWD) Taos models are equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive (AWD) Taos 4Motion models, which employ an electro-hydraulic center clutch pack that can send as much as 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels, get a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Check the KBB Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Volkswagen Taos. Competitors for this new small VW SUV are many. Among them are the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Hyundai
HYMTF,
+2.81%

Tucson, and Subaru
FUJHY,
+0.63%

Crosstrek, just to name just a few.

The 2022 VW Taos

Volkswagen

2022 Volkswagen Taos pricing

The 2022 Volkswagen Taos has a starting price of $23,295, plus a destination fee of $1,195. This is for the Taos S with FWD. A Taos S with 4Motion AWD begins at $25,340.

As a mid-range SE model, a front-drive 2022 VW Taos begins at $27,545, which jumps to $28,995 with 4Motion AWD.

At the top of the lineup, the Taos SEL starts at $31,790 (FWD) or $33,345 (AWD). The only option available on the SEL is the $1,200 panoramic sunroof.

The well-equipped 2022 Volkswagen Taos SE 4Motion driven by KBB had an MSRP of $32,680. The FWD SEL we also sampled (which had the $1,200 panoramic sunroof) listed for $34,185.

Driving the 2022 Volkswagen Taos

We sampled two 2022 VW Taos models — a front-drive SEL and a midrange SE with 4Motion AWD.

The front-drive SEL impresses  with its peppy engine. When you turn right in the Taos at a red light, the abundant low-end torque of the turbo 1.5-liter makes it easy to screech the inside front tire upon take-off.

Boost arrives quickly, and the 8-speed automatic shifts smoothly and when expected. There are no paddle shifters, but the gear handle can be pulled rearward for an upshift or nudged forward for a downshift.

The 2022 VW Taos

Volkswagen

Handling also is impressive. This Taos feels sharp in the corners, where it exhibits minimal body roll. This is a low-slung compact crossover, so it feels more like a car or a station wagon from the driver’s seat than an SUV. At the same time, it’s a quiet and comfortable highway cruiser with a spacious interior and a generous cargo compartment. The view out the windshield is good, but the rearview mirror’s field of vision is pinched a bit by the back glass.

The Taos SE with 4Motion launches with a bit more dignity because all four wheels put power to the ground. The 4Motion AWD system has Snow and Off-road settings, plus three other driving modes: Eco, Normal, and Sport. Sport provides snappier throttle response, heavier steering, and more aggressive shifts.

The new VW Taos is a spirited machine that feels composed from the driver’s seat, thanks to a suspension that features struts in front and either a torsion beam (FWD) rear axle or a multilink rear arrangement (AWD). What’s more, there’s excellent front legroom for taller drivers and adult-friendly back seats.

On the downside, the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is not our favorite. It’s slow to select the proper gear when you want to power out of a corner. While putting it in Sport mode helps, we think we’d rather have a Taos 4Motion equipped with the standard 8-speed automatic, which is quicker to respond and feels more refined.

Interior comfort

The new VW Taos has an understated but elegant interior featuring cloth (S), CloudTex (SE), or leather (SEL) upholstery. VW’s digital gauges are standard, and the standard 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment is upgradable to the latest MIB3 infotainment system that features an 8-inch screen along with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Given the compact size of the Taos, the interior space is excellent. A 6-foot 2-inch person can fit with ease behind a driver of the same height, even when the Taos has a sunroof.

Overall interior volume, at 99.9 cubic feet, is only 1.6 cubic feet less than the Tiguan. Behind the rear seat, there’s 28.1 cubic feet of luggage space in the new VW Taos, which increases to 66.3 cu ft when the second row is folded down.

If you order a Taos with 4Motion, the cargo volume drops slightly, to 24.9 and 60.2 cubic feet,  respectively, thanks to the slightly higher rear load floor needed to accommodate the differential and multilink rear suspension.

While we like the style of the Taos interior (and in particular the durable CloudTex seat fabric of the SE), the hard plastic used on top of the dash and in the door panels looks substandard. It jumps out as an area where VW strove to keep the Taos from intruding on the Tiguan’s price. Whatever the case, both of these SUVs are new for 2022, and both come from VW’s plant in Puebla, Mexico.

Exterior styling

For its first foray into the not-quite-subcompact crossover space, Volkswagen has made a Taos that fits right in with the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs. The overall proportions of the new Taos are good, and the short overhangs will help in off-road situations.

Built on VW’s MQB platform, the Taos is a handsomely cautious design, but it looks good with its squared-off wheel wells, long wheelbase, and settled stance. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard, but 18s and 19s are available.

When this new compact VW SUV is viewed from the rear, it’s easy to see the Taos script prominently displayed on the liftgate. VW says we should expect to see more of that type of badging on future models.

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Favorite features

VW Digital CockpitA fully digital instrument cluster is standard on the 2022 Volkswagen Taos, but the SEL model gets a larger and fully configurable 10.25-inch display with three views. Our favorite is full-screen navigation, which turns the whole instrument cluster into a handy and eye-catching map.

Travel Assist
Available on the S and SE but standard on the Taos SEL, Travel Assist allows partially automated hands-on driving up to 95 mph. Activated by a button on the steering wheel, it uses the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist to keep the Taos safely in its lane and at a safe distance to the vehicle in front.

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Standard features

Standard equipment in the 2022 Volkswagen Taos includes the turbo engine, digital gauges, W-iFi, Apple
AAPL,
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CarPlay/Android Auto, push-button starter, and automatic LED headlights.

The Taos S has cloth upholstery, 17-inch alloy wheels, black roof rails, black mirror caps, 60/40 split rear seats, 6.5-inch infotainment screen, and a manual driver’s seat. If you order 4Motion AWD on your Taos S, it will come with an all-weather package that includes heated front seats, side mirrors, and windshield-washer nozzles.

On the Taos SE, you get the CloudTex upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, silver roof rails, body-color side mirror caps, 8-inch infotainment screen, wireless smartphone charging, power driver’s seat, heated front seats, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

At the top SEL level, the Taos has 18-inch (FWD) or 19-inch (AWD) alloy wheels, leather upholstery, LED projector headlamps, 8-speaker BeatsAudio sound system, heated steering wheel, plus parking sensors front and rear.

The Taos SEL also comes with the IQ.Drive safety suite, which includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, plus lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. Active high-beam headlights and Parking Distance Control also are available in the SEL, which is the only new Taos that has a light bar across its grille, like VW’s new electric ID.4.

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Factory options

There aren’t many options on the new Taos. We recommend the IQ.Drive S package on the Taos S. For only $995, it includes autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and rear traffic alert.

The Taos S also can be ordered with a convenience package that includes automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and a heated leatherette steering wheel.

Black 18-inch alloy wheels are a $395 option on the Taos SE, which also is available with the IQ.Drive safety suite and a similar convenience package.

The Taos SE and SEL are both available with a large panoramic sunroof for $1,200.

Also see: The 9 things that are most likely to affect your auto insurance rates

Engine and transmission

The all-new aluminum-block engine in the Volkswagen Taos is a gem. The 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which uses the fuel-saving Miller cycle, produces 158 horsepower. That’s more 11 more horsepower than the turbo 1.4-liter in the Jetta, and there’s 184 lb-ft of torque on tap at only 1,750 rpm.

VW engineers have gone to great lengths with this engine, using not just high injection pressures and raised compression, but also revised turbocharger vanes and friction-reducing plasma cylinder liners to make for a powerful but highly efficient powerplant.

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Front-wheel-drive (FWD) Taos models with VW’s 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and 8-speed automatic transmission are rated by the EPA to deliver 28 mpg in the city, 36 mpg on the highway, and 31 mpg combined. All-wheel-drive (AWD) models use a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and return 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 28 mpg combined.

The FWD Volkswagen Taos has a 13.2-gallon fuel tank and a range of over 450 miles. The AWD VW Taos has a larger 14.5-gallon tank and a similar range.

1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4
158 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
184 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/36 (FWD), 25/32 (AWD)

This story originally ran on KBB.com

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