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2022 Volkswagen Taos First Look: A Big New Small SUV

The Volkswagen Group is the largest automaker in the world, and yet it only commands a measly three percent of the U.S. car market. Why so small a piece of such a decent-sized pie? Well, for a long time VW simply didn’t make the sort of vehicles American consumers wanted to buy. The Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport (not to mention the enlarged Tiguan) were the first steps in filling out a lineup previously rife with pricey hatchbacks and Euro-wonderful sedans (such as the old Passat) with the SUVs that Americans are so hungry for. The new 2022 Volkswagen Taos continues the brand’s SUV offensive and is its first sub-compact SUV.

Small for a VW, Big for Its Class

The new Taos Volkswagen’s smallest SUV, slotting beneath the all-electric ID4 and the recently-refreshed Tiguan. If the Taos appears familiar, it is because VW styled the small SUV to look like a baby version of the mid-size Atlas. The squared-off fenders and squat stance are particularly Atlas-like, and the LED light bar that stretches across the width of the front grille is much like what appears on the new ID4 and 2022 Golf GTI.

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Like most VW products these days, the Taos is built on the Modular Transverse Architecture (MQB) platform. Its wheelbase of 105.9 inches is one of the largest in the segment, and the extra length helps with rear legroom (as we discovered during our first drive of a prototype version of the Taos). At 175.8 inches long, the Taos is among the largest SUVs in its class, falling an inch short of the Subaru Crosstrek, but longer than the 173-inch-long Mazda CX-30. Inside, the Taos sports 28.1 cubic feet of space with the reach bench seat upright; fold down that second row, and you’ll find there is a generous 66.3 cubic feet of free space to play with. That’s more than both the aforementioned CX-30 and Crosstrek with either the seats up or down.

The 2022 Taos Sports A Brand New Engine

When it comes to market in the middle of next year, the Taos will be available with either front- or all-wheel-drive—just like most of its competitors. The only available engine is a new turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission in front-wheel-drive models and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic in all-wheel-drive examples. The new engine makes 158 horsepower—11 more than the turbocharged 1.4-liter that serves as the base engine in the compact Golf and Jetta models—and 184 lb-ft of torque at just 1,750 rpm.

Those power and torque figures put the Taos right in the heart of the segment, just topping the Chevrolet Trailblazer’s 155 hp and 174-lb-ft of torque but falling shy of the top-spec Kia Seltos SX’s 175 hp and 195 lb-ft. There’s no word on whether a high-performance variant of the Taos will ever makes its way to the states, despite the fact that sporty R-badged versions of the Touareg, Tiguan, and T-Roc exist in VW’s lineup overseas. That said, neither the Touareg nor the T-Roc exist here at all, so (sadly) the American market’s lack of R models isn’t likely to change soon.

Volkswagen says the new engine is the first mass-produced turbo to employ variable turbine geometry. That’s a fancy way of saying the turbo can adapt how its turbine responds to the flow of exhaust gases that spin its compressor wheel to suit lower or higher engine speeds. On a less technical level, this means the turbo makes more power across more of the rev range and eliminates some of the pesky boost lag (the delay in spooling up its internals and delivering power boost to the engine at low speeds) turbo engines can be plagued by, all while adding top-end power. The new engine also operates at a fuel pressure of more than 500 psi and a compression ratio of 11.5:1—relatively high for a turbocharged unit.

According to VW, these changes mean the engine can make more power while delivering “exceptional” fuel economy. The automaker targeted best-in-class fuel efficiency, but we’ll have to wait for the EPA to test the Taos for confirmation of that. For now, the leader of the subcompact SUV segment is the Nissan Kicks, which delivers an EPA-estimated 31 mpg city, 36 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined. So, consider that the Taos’ bogey.

No Such Thing as a “Base” 2022 Taos

The engine isn’t the only big news. Volkswagen says it didn’t want to make a stripped-out base model, and instead wanted to pack in features across the lineup. Surprisingly, Volkswagen’s digital cockpit (a digital gauge cluster optional on other, pricier VWs) is standard across all Taos models. Even the base S-trimmed cars will do away with a physical gauge cluster in favor of Volkswagen’s customizable digital instruments.
























Volkswagen will sell the Taos in S, SE, and SEL trims, and even the entry-level S will come with pushbutton ignition, automatic LED headlights, and some driver assist features. But if it’s safety kit you want, VW’s available IQ Drive package ups the ante with frontal collision warning, active blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and other safety goodies. Other options like cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, and 10-color LED ambient lighting will be available on higher-trimmed cars.

Stepping up to the SE nets 18-inch wheels (as opposed to the standard 17-inch rollers) and a bump up to Volkwagen’s V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces. Taos SEL models can have wheels up to 19-inches in size and get options that are normally available on other trims (like IQ Drive) as standard. A panoramic sunroof is an option across the entire Taos range.

How much will this cost? There is no word yet on price, but Volkswagen is well aware of how competitors in the segment are priced and will no doubt ensure the Taos is competitive. Therefore you can expect the Taos to be priced similarly to rivals like the Crosstrek and CX-30, starting somewhere around $22,000 to $23,000.

The post 2022 Volkswagen Taos First Look: A Big New Small SUV appeared first on MotorTrend.


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