Ask any automaker and they will tell you there is always room for a new crossover. Regardless of size, automakers are finding every niche to fill and car buyers are swooping them up in droves. The latest to the market is the Volkswagen Taos – a subcompact crossover that promises the company’s signature driving dynamics and quality in a budget-friendly package. Given the market trends, we expect this to be a popular hit amongst shoppers, and grabbed the keys to what we think will be a volume seller– this is the 2022 Volkswagen Taos Comfortline.
Built on the ubiquitous MQB platform, the all-new Taos is instantly recognizable as a Volkswagen product. It shares a similar fascia with the sporty Atlas Cross Sport, and the rest of its exterior styling follows the company’s SUV design philosophy. While its design is not one that is revolutionary by any means, the Taos looks sharp and upscale thanks to its LED lighting unit and clean bodylines.
All Volkswagen Taos are powered by the 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 158-horsepower at 5,500 RPM, and 184 lb-ft. of torque at 1,750 RPM. There is plenty of low-end torque that helps the Taos feel faster than the figure suggests, but it does run out of breath quickly after the initial surge. Two transmissions are available – an eight-speed automatic for the front-drive model and a DSG dual clutch unit for everything else equipped with 4MOTION all-wheel drive. We find that the front-wheel drive Taos is adequate for most users, and 4MOTION would only make meaningful differences for trekking over deeper snow.
Though lacking in feel, the Taos’ electric power steering is light and feels fairly accurate. There is a distinct sense of simplicity when driving the Taos; there is a gear lever with a traditional lock-out button to pull (unlike the little switchblade in the new Golf R), no drive modes to fiddle with, and there are physical buttons to control the climate control and heated seats (looking at you again, Golf R). It reminded us that simple is best, and the Taos’ easygoing personality is definitely its biggest charm.
According to Natural Resources Canada, fuel economy of the 2022 Volkswagen Taos is rated at 8.4L/100km in the city and 6.6L/100km on the highway for a combined average of 7.6L/100km. Our observed figure came in at a slightly higher 9.5L/100km for our city commute but the cold weather is likely the culprit. Like everyone else in the compact crossover segment, only regular grade gasoline is required for the 50-litre fuel tank, thus keeping its running cost low.
Head and legroom is quite generous in the Taos; Volkswagen claims its total passenger space is only 45 litres smaller than that of the two-row Tiguan, and the optional panoramic sunroof brightens up the cabin to give it an airy feeling. Ride comfort is acceptable with most unwanted road and wind noise isolated from entering inside. Cargo space measures a respectable 790 litres for the front wheel drive model and 705 litres for 4MOTION all-wheel drive versions.
As mentioned, the Taos employs a no-fuss and easy to use interior layout. We like the use of the blue colour trim on the dashboard to break up the otherwise monotone cabin, and the Taos’ interior is well put together. The upgraded MIB3 infotainment system is delivered by an eight-inch touchscreen with an intuitive user-interface. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is supported, with three USB ports for device charging. Our favourite part of the Taos’ interior is the highly configurable digital instrument cluster standard on all Taos models – eight-inch on the Trendline and Comfortline and upgraded to 10.25-inch on the range-topping Highline trim.
Standard driver assistance features on the Comfortline include Autonomous Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Monitoring and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert systems. The Highline gets an additional automatic high beam control feature and opens up for the optional Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist, Emergency Assist, and Dynamic Road Sign Display systems. We would like to see the full suite available to the Taos line in the future as they are crucial to novice drivers in the compact segment.
The 2022 Volkswagen Taos starts at a reasonable $26,695 for the base Trendline trim. The mid-tier Comfortline ups the price to $29,895, and our tester gets the optional $1,500 Sunroof and 18-inch Wheels package that brings us to $31,395. It unfortunately finds itself on the high end when compared to other compact crossovers such as the Toyota Corolla Cross, Nissan Qashqai, and Mazda CX-30. The Taos wins on interior space, but value-oriented shoppers might find the difference too big to swallow since cost is likely the number one determining factor here.
In a vacuum, the 2022 Volkswagen Taos Comfortline is a capable crossover that manages to charm with a simple yet refined driving experience and spacious accommodations. However, Volkswagen is going to have their hands full trying to persuade budget-conscious buyers in this ultra competitive segment, and we expect this space to only get more crowded as green vehicles start to enter the sub-$40K segment.