Updated: Apr 29
Volkswagen developed the Taos in 2021 to replace the base model of their legendary Golf. Although the nameplate is still around after 50 years, only the GTI and R performance versions remain. The Taos is a new subcompact SUV competing for the crown in a segment that includes nearly fifteen competitors. Let's determine how this model fits the Volkswagen lineup and stacks up against the competition. Our test model had an MSRP of $38,195 and was built at the Puebla, MX plant.
The Taos shares many design elements with other members of the VW lineup, such as the Tiguan and the Atlas. The headlights and the front grille, in particular, give this family resemblance, while the black cladding on the skirt distinguishes with the wheel arches and the lower part of both bumpers. The Volkswagen Taos looks robust; it gives the car an outdoorsy vibe, even though urban areas are its natural habitat. The 19-inch wheels look great, roof rails are always welcome, and the vehicle's name is placed on each side, which is uncommon. In the back, specific characteristics such as the badge and the taillights are the main differences between this model and the rest of the family.
Inside the vehicle, the Volkswagen Taos is an evolution of the Golf it replaces. Even though it isn't the latest technology at VW, it's more user-friendly and straightforward than on the newer generation Golf GTI. The front seats are pleasing, though the thigh cushion might be short for taller drivers. You sit a little high, a benefit for some drivers. The 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster is customizable with a full-screen map or configuration to suit your preferences. You can quickly switch the different menus using the buttons on the heated steering wheel (standard in Canada). The 8-inch infotainment system has excellent wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto. When you get close to the screen, other menus will appear, such as the radio presets or the audio settings, from a tiny display, automatically zoom in. The climate controls are located under the multimedia screen and, once again, are easy to manipulate and hassle-free. Finally, the optional Beats sound system is adequate.
Another advantage of the VW Taos is the interior room. The new entry from VW is surprisingly large compared to its rivals, thanks to its boxy shape. With the second row folded down, you get up to 1866L (65.9 cubic ft) of cargo space, which is impressive and class-leading. Also, when the seats are up, you can place long items in the trunk by lowering the rear-seat pass-through, which is neat. Adults can sit comfortably in the back, with the high roof; there's ample room for kids too. The ISOFIX ports are clearly identified, while the rear anchors are accessible in the cargo area. Interior use is one of its attributes; you can see that the German engineers worked very hard on this aspect.
Under the hood, all Taos versions are powered by the same turbocharged 1.5L 4-cylinder engine that delivers 158hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The difference comes when you opt for the base configuration, front-wheel drive, which couples with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel-drive versions all come with a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission instead, as in our test model. VW designed this vehicle for comfort and fuel efficiency rather than sportiness, and the 0-100kph time of around 7.5 sec illustrates this perfectly. The dual-clutch is slow to respond sometimes; there is a 2-3 seconds delay when you step hard on the pedal. The ride is comfortable; the suspensions absorb the road's imperfections and stabilize the vehicle. The steering could be more precise and bring more feedback. When parking, it's lovely since it spins smoothly, but otherwise, it lacks some refinement. The brakes are good; the Taos does everything it's been instructed to, performance-wise, but only a little else. Fuel economy was disappointing with the smallest SUV in the Volkswagen lineup. The figures announced are 7.4L/100km on the highway and 9.5L/100km in the city; in reality, we achieved 6.3L on the highway, but the fuel consumption in the city was rarely under 10L.
To recap, the VW Taos it's far from the agile Golf it replaces. Instead, it's a large subcompact SUV that assumes its new identity: refined styling, excellent interior room, and unassuming driving experience. If you need the most space at the lowest price, this vehicle should be at the top of your shopping list. We recommend you opt for the base trendline AWD version, which is already well-equipped.
Volkswagen has lent us this vehicle as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Volkswagen Canada. The above reflects our personal opinion.