Written by Marco Carvajal
Photographs by Marco Carvajal
Test driving the new 2021 Volkswagen TAOS has been better than expected, I am surprised by the huge value included in this new compact SUV. The smallest SUV in the VW lineup can impress even the most demanding drivers.
The new Volkswagen Taos is a a small car, but sometimes the smallest are the best, just like diamonds are tiny but very strong and precious, the new small Taos SUV seems to be the result of an impressive technological and engineering production effort as Volkswagen is trying to get their new compact SUV on top of the competition.
The first-ever new TAOS is a fantastic compact SUV that looks and drives like a small diamond, strong and powerful, especially the AWD SEL Taos, the top-of-the-line has a very strong push, it is precise, fast, and very attractive inside and outside. The name Taos is inspired in a town in northern New Mexico, in the high desert, surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
While test driving the new Taos in Miami Beach and Coral Gables, Florida, I had the opportunity to meet and learn more about the Taos from Volkswagen executives who explained the way the Taos is built and the market they are trying to reach, stepping into the segment of compact and mini SUVs.
Volkswagen has evolved from a sedan automobile brand into an emerging important player in the SUV-car-making market, now with a full lineup of different SUVs. About 4 years ago we saw the Volkswagen SUV, the glorious Atlas be born and become a successful bestseller, along with other SUV brothers like the Atlas Cross Sport and Tiguan, and today the compact SUV Taos is being added to the list.
Today in 2021 the Volkswagen SUV lineup has a new small family member: The new compact SUV TAOS!
The new TAOS will be available for purchase at Volkswagen dealers in the United States in June 2021.
The TAOS is small but bold, and it has been created to compete in the segment of smaller compact SUVs. Even if the TAOS is not so small it allows Volkswagen to compete with mini-SUVs and also with compact SUVs, it can fill a gap between the two markets, mini and compact SUVs. This compact SUV is built on the Volkswagen MQB platform.
In general small SUVs are popular among young car buyers who need less space than a large SUV but still don’t want to drive a sedan as they want a mini SUV providing more space and a more aggressive sports design, the Taos is built to give those young buyers a great small SUV.
Some of the main competitors of the new Taos are the Jeep Compas, KIA Seltos, Buick Encore GX, Jeep Compass, Mazda CX-30, Kia Seltos, and Subaru Crosstretk in the compact SUV category. But the Taos also competes with smaller cars like the Hyundai Venue or Kona.
The attractive exterior of the Taos features a sculpted hood and a wide three-bar grille similar to the larger Atlas Cross Sport. For a sportier look, the Taos’ front bumper with side air intakes, black detailing, and a large lower air intake continues perfecting the appealing appearance.
Continuing with more value for your money, the Taos includes LED headlights, Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), and taillights standard in all Taos trims.
Taos the Smallest Volkwagen SUV
The Taos is about four inches in wheelbase and nearly ten inches shorter overall than the Volkswagen Tiguan, but the passenger area feels very similar in size. The front seats are very comfortable, it has a good optimal space in its segment.
The new Taos would easily take four adults and their luggage with enough space. The Taos has 37.9-inch rear legroom that gives the new SUV a truly compact interior about the size of a midsize car. The rear seats feel even bigger than they are.
Cargo volume is large for the segment, it measures 27.9 cubic feet with seats up and 65.9 cubic feet with seats folded down for FWD models. Measurements drop down to 24.9 / 60.2 cubic feet with the AWD version.
In my conversation with José Bravo, Product Manager for Compact SUVs from Volkswagen, José told me that Volkswagen has invested a lot of resources to produce a great quality Taos, elevating quality standards and features with the characteristical perfectionism from the brand.
The Taos is a German Volkswagen in an American Body Style, made in Puebla, Mexico, specially designed for the United States. The Taos is also produced for Mexico, Brazil, and South America but with different specifications.
The new TAOS looks very similar to its larger brother the Atlas, we can call it a baby-Atlas. The exterior design, front and back, and even some interior elements of the design remind you of the style of the Atlas. It has a very interesting bold sporty exterior design. For a small SUV, the new Taos has exceptional legroom in the backseat.
One of the elements where I can see improvement in the new Taos version is height, the current 64.4 inches tall can be a good size for many, but for my personal taste, I would like a taller Taos in the future.
The new 2022 Volkswagen Taos is the company’s third compact SUV along with the Tiguan and the electric ID.4, which has already won several awards without yet being sold. The Taos has all the right tools to become a bestseller. VW lineup continues with bigger SUVs like the Atlas and the Atlas Crosssport, for a total of five SUVs in the lineup.
Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, has a history of success with successful models like the classic Beetle, and in general, it is perceived as a great value producer with sedans like the Jetta or Passat that were made with very good german engineering and quality, but priced low. However, the competition from Japanese and Korean cars has been a challenge and the brand needed a remake in order to win against the competition, producing now many new car models like the Atlas.
TAOS Configuration Easy to Buy Just Three Trim Models
The Taos is very easy to buy and configure, besides having a great low-value price, Volkswagen created three main trim models and the main configuration detail you can change is to have your TAOS either Front Wheel Drive standard or select the optional All-Wheel Drive, knows as Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.
The three available models S, SE, and SEL come with different features. Each of the 3 models is available as FWD or AWD.
The SEL AWD is the top of the line with ventilated seats, great quality premium audio Beats brand, and other features. The standard BeatsAudio system on the SEL features a 12-channel, 400-watt amplifier, digital signal processing and eight speakers with an additional speaker subwoofer.
The S comes with an all-weather package that adds heated front seats, heated wash nozzles, and heated side mirrors. This package is standard on other trim levels, with or without AWD.
On the inside, S models have cloth seats, while SE models feature CloudTex upholstery and cloth seating surfaces, and SEL models receive leather seating surfaces.
SEL brings AWD and adds ventilated front seats only available in the AWD model. If you need ventilated front seats then the SEL AWD is your model.
Panoramic sunroof is available as an option for SE and SEL trim levels.
Pricing is relatively low for all what you get with this sporty and attractive SUV. The Base model S FWD starts around $22K, then the second trim SE starts at $27K for the FWD model, and finally, the SEL, the top of the line, starts at $31K for the Front Wheel Drive version, or $33K for the AWD fully loaded version.
If would buy a new car for my children, the TAOS will be one of the best candidates due to its great pricing, safety, standard features, style and very good interior interior distribution.
S FWD $22,995
S AWD $25,040
SE FWD $27,245
SE AED $28,695
SEL FWD $31,490
SEL AWD $33,045
Pricing for the new 2022 Taos is smart and very competitive, you can buy a base Taos for a very low price of approximately $22K, or you can get a fully loaded AWD SEL Taos for around $33K. Even if you decide to purchase the top-of-the-line SEL the pricing around 33K is low compared to other SUVs in the market.
If you decide to lease instead of buying, Volkswagen is going to offer leasing promotions that can save you money while allowing you to drive a brand new TAOS.
The German automaker has created an economical and practical attractive SUV that can be a great player in a tough segment of compact or mini SUVs. It offers an excellent ride with excellent interior space, which with its good value for money. The Taos can be the key to a new segment that Volkswagen did not enter yet, potentially selling close to 100,000 units per year in the U.S. with the right marketing approach and model awareness.
The challenge is that Volkswagen still is known for many car buyers as a sedan automaker, not a an SUV maker, there is a lot of market penetration to do, but as the market will start to know this model, it is clear that the Taos could be a best-seller.
Thanks to sophisticated technology such as variable geometry turbocharging, the Taos delivers excellent fuel economy and good performance. The new TAOS produces a low fuel efficiency with 31 MPG Combined in the FWD trim, 28 MPG City / 26 MPG Highway.
Turbocharged 1.5-liter Four-Cylinder Engine
The Taos is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and direct-injection EA211 TSI engine, producing 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.
It’s a new engine is based on the 1.4-liter engine from the Jetta sedan. Volkswagen increased horsepower from 147 horsepower in the Jetta to 158 horsepower in the Taos. It generates its peak torque of 184 pound-feet of torque at 1,750 rpm, helping you get up to speed quickly.
- 1.5-liter TSI engine
- 158 hp
- 184 lb-ft of torque
- Either 8-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, or
- 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic and available 4Motion all-wheel drive
Volkswagen’s 4Motion All-Wheel-Drive System is Optional in all TAOS Trim Models
All 2022 Taos models come standard with front-wheel drive and 8-speed automatic transmission, while all-wheel-drive models have a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Drivers who like more control of the ride and a stronger shift from speed to speed would prefer the dual-clutch transmission, but if you want a smoother ride and don’t need so much power then the FWD 8-speed automatic can be your preferred model, saving you around $2,000 in the purchase price.
Taos a Small SUV with Good Performance “S” Sports Mode
The Taos seems to have a similar quality ride and handling as his bigger brothers’ SUVs like the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. Its turbo engine is excellent. The FWD drives well but the AWD has the power and it is my choice. The “S” Sport setting in the transmission, holds gears longer and shifts later, producing more power for those who want a sporty Taos.
This SUV is very easy to drive, with good performance and precision, which maintains composure in corners with smooth steering.
It has the ride of an excellent compact SUV, which could capture new car buyers for the Volkswagen brand, who are looking to feel comfortable, safe, and with power at hand.
The automatic engine starts and stops system, which shuts down the engine at stops to help save gas, but it kicks in quickly and with just a slight shudder.
Value is everywhere inside the Taos, It seems that the German automaker is following strategies from competitor Korean brands who give you full extras cars for a low price, with the goal to sell and sell with huge volume, even with a very small profit on each unit but winning in the long run.
The Taos come standard with a digital instrument cluster that can be customized to display anything from the song being played to turn-by-turn instructions, either from the navigation system or from your phone, via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
A 6.5-inch infotainment screen is standard, expanding on more expensive models to an 8-inch screen, capable of wireless connection for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
The big tech differences are the larger 10.3-inch digital cockpit display on the SEL, which beats the standard 8.0-inch digital cockpit and navigation. The Taos screen resolution is very high, it looks very good, better than many competitors.
Standard and optional features like standard Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, Car-Net with Wi-Fi capability, IQ.DRIVE driver assistance suite, and MIB3 with wireless App-Connect
Car-Net Remote Access allows Taos owners to interact with their vehicle from miles away via mobile app.
Among digital controls, the physical controls for the climate control, along with a tuning and volume knob for the stereo.
The Taos brings optional safety packages that will include features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adapted cruise control that can bring the car to a complete stop when traffic jams. Blind-spot monitors and automatic forward emergency braking are standard.
It includes six airbags standard along with a number of electronic safety systems, such as an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Volkswagen’s Automatic Post-Collision Braking System.
All Taos models feature a standard rearview camera.
The Taos also includes Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System that shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and switches on the hazard lights if the car is involved in certain types of collisions.
Volkswagen’s IQ.DRIVE advanced driver assistance technology features hands-on semi-automated capability. IQ.DRIVE alerts you when obstacles appear in front of the driver and keeps an eye around.
Blind Spot Monitor is available on S models in the IQ.DRIVE S package and standard on SE and SEL.
The new Taos gives you more features like rear Traffic Alert system, Lane-Keeping System, Emergency Assist, IQ.DRIVE, available Park Distance Control, Dynamic Road Sign Display, and Light Assist.
Taos Warranty and Maintenance
Every new Taos includes a generous bumper-to-bumper New Vehicle Limited Warranty and Carefree Maintenance Program. The warranty provides coverage for four years or 50,000 miles and contrary to other car brands’ warranty, this one can be transferred to a subsequent owner throughout the remainder of its duration. The Taos Carefree Maintenance Program provides scheduled maintenance services for two years or 20,000 miles at no additional charge and can be transferred to a subsequent owner throughout the remainder of its duration. Volkswagen offers an excellent warranty, however, some competitors offer longer and extended warranties.