2022 Volkswagen Taos 1.5T SEL - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
VW's ever expanding SUV family is starting to look like those generational rear window decals showing baby at one end and gramps at the other. For 2022, VW's new baby is the Taos, which slots into the leadoff spot formerly occupied by the Tiguan. In 2018, VW drastically upsized the Tiguan from subcompact to compact plus, a move which left room for introduction of an all new subcompact sibling called Taos. Actually, the Taos is just over an inch wider and longer than the original Tiguan, so it feels quite spacious inside. Adding to that airy impression of our test vehicle was a $1,200 power tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof. This was the only option tacked onto the $31,490 base price of our platinum gray metallic Taos SEL.
The Taos, like so many other VW products, is based on the company's MQB platform which serves as the foundation for everything from sedans to SUVs. VW builds two varieties of Taos. The front-wheel-drive version we tested connects an 8-speed automatic transmission to a 158hp turbocharged, 1.5 liter inline 4. An all-wheel-drive Taos is also available. This one connects the same engine to a DSG dual-clutch 7-speed gearbox. The FWD Taos utilizes a torsion beam rear axle while the AWD model is equipped with a fully independent multi-link rear suspension system. Various equipment levels of both models start cheap but get expensive fast. Our top echelon FWD Taos SEL trimmed the front seats with Vienna leather, added dual zone Climatronic air conditioning, rain sensing wipers, park distance control assist, and 18 inch black aluminum alloy rims shod with 215/50R18 Bridgestone Turanza LS100 radials with a treadwear rating of TW 560.
The optional panoramic roof consists of two enormous glass panels which cover both the front and rear seating areas. A semi-translucent interior screen covers both panels. the inside screen can be fully retracted to expose the entire interior to filtered light. However, only the front glass pane slides open to the elements. This roof bathes the already inviting interior in waves of natural light. VW has done a commendable job of fitting the SEL with supportive and handsome two-tone leather front seats. Both are heated, as is the steering wheel. Even the outboard rear seats are leather covered. The dash layout looks upscale, and works so well that I was able to program my XM Satellite favorite channels into the unit faster than any recent vehicle. The 10.25 inch Digital Cockpit Pro instrument panel connects the large faced tachometer (6000rpm redline) to the equally large speedometer with a plan view map showing the terrain you're currently traversing. This map is simplified, with no call outs for route numbers or street names. For more detailed information, utilize the adjacent 8 inch touchscreen dash-top navigation unit.
The driving dynamics of the Taos are not as scintillating as its crisp appearance would lead you to believe. The 158hp turbo needs to be micromanaged with the gearbox to extract maximum performance. Even so, acceleration will not leave you breathless. Unfortunately, VW does not equip the Taos with paddle shifts, so any gear swapping must be done by first placing the console mounted gear lever in the manual gate, then bumping the Tiptronic stick to and fro for upshifts and downshifts. The gearbox, however, is slow to respond to your commands, and sometimes chooses not to respond at all. Even if you are in manual mode, the transmission will automatically upshift to a higher gear as rpm nears redline. Likewise, the gearbox will not select the lower gear you have commanded if it senses an over-rev might occur. VW has eliminated the usual stick adjacent gear selection indicator in favor of an illuminated pattern atop the shift knob. This small type face call-out is impossible to read in daylight, so you're never really sure what gear you're in until you confirm your choice with a second glance at the dashboard enumeration.
VW fits the SEL grade Taos with its full suite of safety and semi-autopilot driving aids. At Wolfsburg, this belt-and suspender approach to driving is known as IQ.DRIVE. Included in the portfolio are Travel Assist (semi-automated driving assistance), adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane keeping assist, emergency assist medical notification, front assist emergency (and pedestrian) braking, blind spot monitor, and rear traffic alert. We did test the Travel Assist on the freeway while cruising at 65mph in a heavy crosswind. The system kept shuffling the steering from one direction to the other as it coped with each new blast of wind, leading us to wonder if a vehicle rather than a human can be charged with DUI.
2022 VOLKSWAGEN TAOS 1.5T SEL
ENGINE: 1.5 liter TSI 16-valve DOHC inline 4 turbocharged
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 28MPG City/36MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $33,885
HYPES: Cute Looker, Nicely Tailored
GRIPES: Recalcitrant Gearbox
STAR RATING: 8.5 Stars out of 10