2022 VW Taos SE: Enchanting Economy-Size
VW’s Taos is 9.3 inches shorter than our Tiguan, making it just a skosh shorter than Toyota’s RAV4. The Tao’s people-sitting area, however, is roomier than the RAV4’s. Tao’s cargo bay, alas, is smaller. Thus, the Taos is a “small” compact with a “big” compact’s interior.
Bigger than Pint Size
It’s a stretch, however, for VW to present its Taos as having the panache of New Mexico’s artsy enclave. But if one must live in a dot on VW’s atlas (or Atlas), near Hyundai’s Santa Fe and Tucson, why not borrow yet another Southwestern destination nameplate? It’s certainly less troublesome than Tiny Touareg.
The FWD Taos’ virtues are decent fuel mileage and front/rear seating. You sit atop suede/mesh swathed thrones with contrasting stitching. This seems peachy, as there’s plenty of legroom front and rear. Add a comfortable ride and you’ve got VW’s answer for those seeking a Golf-like wagon.
Inside, the Taos’ plastic-shell dash pad screams cheap. It’s not a total loss; VW wrapped the heated D-shaped steering wheel in leatherette, covered the A pillars in cloth, hemmed the headliner and lent an upscale click to the dashboard’s switchgear. VW incorporated the shifter’s lighted quadrant into the shift knob. The center front armrest is too small and too short for elbow support. The easy-fold split rear seat with pass through, face vents and USB-C ports.
Press the start button and VW’s 158-hp 1.5-liter turbo EA211 engine lights up. This alloy-block mill has efficiency tricks: low-friction cylinder liners, a “B” cycle engine induction scheme and variable-vane turbocharger. My tester had a sudsy eight-speed automatic transmission. I saw 37 mpg highway, 29 mpg overall using regular fuel. The EPA’s numbers: 28-mpg city, 36 highway and 31 combined.
Ride and Handling
VW tuned this rig for comfort. Ingress and egress are easy. You’ll notice body roll. Noise is well suppressed although some road textures intrude. Steering is light but accurate.
The SE in red-over-black Cloud Tex and cloth interior lists for $28,440. Add $1,200 for panoramic sunroof, $895 for IQ.Drive with semi-automated driving extras including adaptive cruise control with start/stop, Lane Assist and Active Blind Spot Monitor. Add $395 for 18-inch black alloy wheels. The bottom line is $31,325.
The FWD Taos price/equipment proposition is an enigma, though. It’s like reserving a room at the El Monte Sagrado luxury resort and not getting the whole enchilada. The view’s great but you must pay extra for full driver-assist peace and tranquility.