Sunday Drive: Volkswagen adds a new member to the family, the Taos
Prior to this year, Volkswagen has relied on three different models to make up its SUV offerings: the Tiguan, the Atlas and the Atlas Sport. The hugely successful launch of the Atlas back in 2017 helped the company build up its SUV line.
With SUVs dominating the American car market, it was no surprise that VW wanted in. The company has now come up with a compact offering for this market with the all-new Taos. The Golf model has enjoyed worldwide popularity, especially in the “hot hatch” category, and the new Taos — set to replace the Golf hatchback — should prove to be a great seller for the company.
The Taos will compete with the likes of the Jeep Compass, Subaru Crosstrek, Kia Seltos and Mazda CX-30. It comes with an available four-motion, all-wheel drive setup, a perfect combination for the Mountain West where AWD becomes a necessary evil duffing our winter months. We believe this fact alone will boost sales where the snow falls.
We were immediately taken with the exterior look of the new Taos and found it would fit quite easily into anyone’s busy lifestyle. Our test ride came clad in a beautiful new cornflower blue color that stood out in the crowd and attracted attention.
Taking advantage of Volkswagen’s new MQB design and manufacturing technology, the Taos gets differing wheelbase lengths depending on whether it is an AWD (105.6 inches) or FWD (105.9 inches). This new system allows VW to assemble any of its vehicles based on this platform at any of its facilities. This is a move back to true mass production of vehicles through using a standardized, interchangeable set of parts from which it can build different cars.
Under the hood came a smaller 1.5-liter TSI engine with 158 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque, with the AWD version featuring a seven-speed transmission. The front-wheel drive version comes with an eight-speed setup.
Once the turbocharger kicked in, the Taos would really get up and move, but it took a couple of seconds for this to happen. This was one of the few disadvantages we noticed with the Taos, as the distinct turbo lag had us worried at times if the little SUV was going to get moving fast enough.
This lag only occurred when we were trying to accelerate from a complete stop; out on the open road, the engine was very spirited and got us in and out of traffic with ease.
We had the opportunity to take the Taos for an extended ride to the Salt Lake City International Airport where we picked up our son JaCoby and grandson Madden when they arrived home from a short trip. Installing the car seat for Madden proved to be a simple task as the anchors lifted effortlessly from the back seat, providing easy access to position the seat. JaCoby thought it was the easiest time he had ever experienced installing the car seat, something younger families would love if they needed to move their seat from car to car.
On the way home, the Taos and its ample leg room fit the four of us just fine. It was easy to communicate with one another as Grandma Deanne sat in the back seat to keep Madden entertained.
The Taos is one of the larger compact SUVs in its class with a huge 99.5 cubic feet of passenger space. That’s only 1.6 cubic feet smaller than its big brother the Tiguan while equipped with only two rows of seating. This would be awesome for those with a smaller family.
Add to that 24.9 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat — 65.9 cubic feet with the seats folded down — and even Dad should be content while managing most any Saturday project!
The new Taos comes standard with VW’s new digital cockpit, which starts with an 8-inch LED screen and moves to a 10.25-inch LED fully configurable model on the upper trim levels. VW has done a great job incorporating this system into their vehicles as it allows the drivers to fully configure how the dashboard looks and feels.
One can even add the navigation maps to the center of the dashboard. This allows drivers to look down at their speed and see a map of their current location. On top of that, it gives the Taos a very modern and sleek feel when driving, something we would expect only from luxury-level competitors.
The seats were clad in a “Cloudtex” and cloth surface that seemed almost like an anti-slip surface. We liked it. The front seats were also heated — again, a great addition for winter driving.
Safety-wise, our test drive was loaded with all the great options. Forward collision warning with assist and pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring and rear traffic alert came standard. With the addition of the IQ.Drive SE Package ($895), there was also adaptive cruise control with stop and go, a lane keep assist and active front and rear traffic alerts. This all makes driving the Taos as semi-autonomous as possible and proved to be well worth the extra money.
The new Taos, named after an iconic city, proved to be a great addition to our small family for a week, no matter what we needed it for.
Base price: $28,695
Price as driven: $32,380