2022 Volkswagen Taos small SUV exhibits huge promise
by Brian Wong
Volkswagen has a giant hole the place a small SUV ought to go. Filling that hole will probably be two compact crossover SUVs within the 2022 Taos and the all-electric ID.4.
The electrical ID.4 goes on sale early subsequent yr and is almost able to go. The Taos (pronounced like “home”) has a for much longer approach to go. However VW gave me the keys to a Taos prototype to log some early drive impressions.
Testing a prototype is a bit bizarre. Journalists usually drive “pre-production” autos which can be very near or similar to the completed product. However a prototype comes a step earlier than that for a corporation to check out completely different components and get a car prepared for its ultimate iteration. The Taos I drove nonetheless had camouflage over the outside lights, wheels borrowed from one other VW, and a big black protecting over the dashboard and middle console that additionally coated up the air vents on a heat Southern California day.
Just like the camo, I used to be blocked from sure components of a typical first drive. VW wished to showcase its new engine, a 1.5-liter turbo-4. Derived from the 1.4-liter turbo-4 at present discovered within the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta and the Golf, the bigger turbo-4 makes use of a slew of technical and design improvements so as to add extra horsepower, extra responsiveness, and extra effectivity. The 1.5-liter will make 158-horsepower, an enchancment of 11 hp over the 1.4-liter. Peak torque stays the identical (184 pound-feet), however within the new engine that torque comes on extra rapidly making the entire expertise extra responsive for the driving force. This engine will finally change the 1.4-liter within the Golf and Jetta as properly.
On the street, there’s a distinction driving the Taos versus the Jetta. Hit the fuel pedal with some gusto and the SUV lunges ahead with extra vigor, sufficient so to really really feel the rear of it squat down from the acceleration. I used to be in a position to affirm that the prototype I drove was front-wheel drive and it got here with the identical 8-speed automated within the Jetta, so the distinction is coming from the engine. For passing maneuvers, the added burst is much less noticeable and the transmission appears to barely resist downshifts within the title of effectivity, which does add a contact of accelerator lag. However with the transmission popped into the sportier S mode, these hesitations largely fade away.
The Taos does have a busier trip than a lot of its rivals, although it fortunately stays removed from stiff. I like the additional little bit of communication that this kind of tuning offers even when simply driving round city or on the freeway, much like the Mazda CX-30, however those that want a softer suspension could also be turned off.
Although the inside was largely coated up, I climbed over as a lot of it as I may and was fortunately shocked by the quantity of inside room. Some subcompact crossovers are little greater than glorified hatchbacks however the Taos is far more Tiguan than Golf and will probably be laborious to inform the 2 SUVs aside on the street. These SUV genes additionally assist with visibility; the big outboard home windows make it simple to see in all instructions.
The brand new Taos is 11 inches shorter than the Tiguan, which is in keeping with aggressive autos just like the Honda CR-V compact to the HR-V subcompact crossover. What the Taos has going for it’s that the Tiguan is on the bigger aspect of compact SUVs and that places the Taos on the identical trajectory for subcompacts. The backseat may be the roomiest within the class in the case of leg room and head room, however Volkswagen has not launched official measurements. There’s greater than sufficient room for 2 grownup passengers, and wonderful sight traces from these huge home windows.
Even with many gaps to fill akin to pricing, gas economic system rankings, and inside high quality, the bones of the Taos appear stable. VW is late to the subcompact SUV celebration however which may work in its favor. The primary iterations of those autos such because the Mazda CX-3 and Chevy Trax had been too small inside, however newer arrivals such because the 2021 Kia Seltos and 2021 Chevy Trailblazer bundle the house extra effectively and keep away from feeling like submarines. Now all there may be to do is wait and discover out if the remainder of the Taos lives as much as this promise.
The Taos will arrive in dealerships subsequent summer season, with front-wheel drive fashions arriving in June and all-wheel drive fashions shortly after that.
Volkswagen offered the Taos prototype to deliver you this firsthand report.