HOCKLEY VALLEY, ONTARIO – The subcompact and compact crossover wars are in full force, and just about every automaker has dipped their toes into the segment. Volkswagen has been a touch behind here, having relied on the Tiguan to satisfy all buyers for whom the Atlas is simply too large. New for this year, the 2022 Volkswagen Taos is a middle ground between the subcompacts and the compacts, slotting into the lineup below the Tiguan. We were invited to the picturesque Hockley Valley to sample the Taos for ourselves.
From a footprint perspective, the Taos is very similar to the outgoing Hyundai Tucson. It’s larger than the likes of the Subaru Crosstrek, and only slightly smaller than the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5. The styling is exactly as expected, a conservative take on VW’s current design language. It looks like they’ve put the Tiguan in the dryer, and that’s not a bad thing, because the Tiguan is quite handsome. The Taos has the same MQB architecture that is shared with the likes of the Golf, Jetta, Tiguan and Atlas.
Inside, the Taos is rather pleasant, and again follows VW’s current styling cues. Front occupants will find themselves more than comfortable, with headroom right at the top of the segment. The large panoramic sunroof helps make for an airy cabin, and rear passengers will also not feel cramped. 790-liters of your junk will fit behind the rear seats, and should you choose to fold them down, this number grows to 1,866-liters. It’s more than enough for the small Canadian family, and ensures the Taos is versatile enough for outdoorsy folks.
Features such as LED headlights and taillights, heated front seats, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration are standard, and as we have come to expect from Volkswagen, the interior feels just a smidge more upscale than Japanese and Korean competitors. A digital instrument cluster is standard and configurable, and our tester was equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen that houses the Volkswagen MIB3 infotainment system. It’s an easy to use system with quick reflexes, and smartphone integration can be done wirelessly.
Under the hood of the Taos lives a mighty 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, pushing out 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque. Taos models in front-drive guise get an eight-speed automatic, and the 4MOTION model, which most Canadians will buy, gets a seven-speed DSG, VW’s signature dual-clutch unit. We sampled the latter, and while it’s not fast by any means, it’s lively and fairly peppy. Turbo lag is fairly minimal, and the Taos feels more eager than the Subaru Crosstrek with the new 2.5-liter engine.
We had the chance to push the Taos through some curvy roads around Hockley Valley, and came away impressed. The multi-link rear suspension maintains good ride quality, and there is some semblance of steering feedback through the wheel. There were some points during higher speed corners where the rear end felt a bit unsettled, but that’s not unexpected for a crossover that’s not tuned for performance driving in the slightest. We also observed 7.4L/100km in mixed driving over our test, but real-world fuel economy will be evaluated in a longer term test coming later this summer.
Canadian pricing for the Taos starts at $26,695 for the front-drive Trendline, and adding 4MOTION all-wheel-drive takes this to $29,195. Volkswagen expects at least a 90% take rate in Canada for the 4MOTION models, so the mid-range $32,395 Comfortline 4MOTION should be a massive hit. Our top-trim tester complete with the French Roast interior came to $38,195 with the optional Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Package ($1,000) and 19-inch wheels ($500).
Features like heated leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, and obviously an active safety suite ensure that the Taos is exactly what today’s Canadian drivers want. The one downside here is that the safety suite is only available on the top-trim Highline, and even then, only if opting for the additional package. It’s an omission, especially because most competitors offer this setup as standard fare. On the plus side, things like an eight-speaker BeatsAudio sound system, ventilated front seats, and 10-colour ambient lighting are a nice touch at this price point.
It seems like a lot, but it’s important to note that other compact crossovers like the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 get well into the $40,000 range when loaded up. Nothing seems to be cheap anymore, a trend that seems to be consistent across just about every industry. $26,695 for a base model doesn’t sound all that high when you consider that a base Honda Civic is now nearly $25,000.
The bottom line is, the 2022 Volkswagen Taos is going to make the brand plenty of money. An entry in this segment is a massive profit generation tool right now. The Taos has a bit more character than the vast array of beige that this segment currently offers. There are plenty of Volkswagen loyalists looking to move on from cars like the base Golf, a model no longer offered here. The Taos is very much a product created out of demand, and is an extremely competent one at that.