An underappreciated crossover

This photo provided by Volkswagen shows a new 2022 Volkswagen Taos compact crossover SUV. It's one of the smallest and most affordable SUVs on sale today yet offers lots of features and pleasing performance. (Courtesy of Volkswagen of America via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

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This photo provided by Volkswagen shows a new 2022 Volkswagen Taos compact crossover SUV. It's one of the smallest and most affordable SUVs on sale today yet offers lots of features and pleasing performance. (Courtesy of Volkswagen of America via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

Brand new 2022 Volkswagen Taos looks to shake up segment

Always listen to your wife! Happy wife, happy life! When it comes to my review this week I’m listening to my wife, the lovely Mrs. Driversside, who had a strong opinion on my tester this week.

“This Volkswagen Taos is really nice. I’m surprised how nice it is!” she proclaimed to me. So, if it’s good enough for her, I should listen up. But, let’s take a closer look at some of the things that make this quite an underappreciated SUV.

For being a subcompact SUV (crossover), the Taos had attractive looks. It didn’t look overly bubbly or frilly like so many other entrants in this gelatinous segment. My tester had a gorgeous color named Cornflower Blue which helped it to stand out further. But Volkswagen’s overall conservative styling pays off with the Taos.

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By playing it safe, they don’t fall in the trap of making the Taos too youthful and giving it a mature, yet vibrant exterior. The hood design shows the playful side and the simple grille shows that this will hold up over the years. If you like station wagon styling, there’s even a hint of that on this first-year crossover.

When it comes to automotive engineering, the Germans seem to always get it right. And that’s the case here with the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It is peppy and maximizes every one of the 158 horses that powers it. The 184 pound-feet of torque is outstanding and shows that this small-sized SUV can be peppy and even fun both off the line and in the higher gears. The eight-speed automatic transmission serves the front-wheel drive (FWD) Taos well.

Normally I’d want for all-wheel drive from such a vehicle, but it actually suits the Taos well. All-wheel drive is available for the Taos. Chalk this up to the rare time where I am okay with FWD.

A fair but common criticism I’ve had with other Volkswagen vehicles is the bare-boned interiors. Their play-it-safe mentality often misses the target in some of their other vehicles, but in the Taos the interior is just right. It has enough soft touch points and niceties, especially considering the price. But the most impressive thing that separates the Taos from some of its competitors is the interior space.

For a subcompact SUV, the cabin is spacious. The rear seats don’t feel so compact with enough legroom comfort for adults. Also the cargo room leads the segment with 27.9 cubic feet of space (slightly less for the AWD version). Fold the rear seats down and there’s 65.9 cubic feet of useable cargo area making this impressive for such a small vehicle.

Unlike other German engineering, the infotainment system is intuitive and simple to use. The 8-inch touchscreen is responsive to commands and has easy integration with smart phones through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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There are only three trims with both FWD and AWD iterations. My tester was the top-of-the-line SEL trim which had a base price of $31,490. The base S trim with FWD has a starting price under $23,000 making this an affordably-priced crossover.

The FWD Taos has an EPA rating of 28 mpg/city and 36 mpg/highway. The fuel-sipping Taos average more than 32 mpg during my time with it.

My wife weighs in on almost every vehicle I drive. She spends as much time in them as I do and knows a lot about cars. So when she feels strongly about a vehicle, it warrants taking note. So the 2022 Volkswagen Taos is definitely wife-approved.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at jimmydinsmore73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2022 Volkswagen Taos SEL

  • Price/As tested price................................................ $31,490/$31,490
  • Mileage.......................................... 28 mpg/city; 36 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower................................. 158 hp/184 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. 8-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels................ Front-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Puebla, Mexico

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