2022 Volkswagen Taos SE
Class: Subcompact Crossover SUV
Miles driven: 441
Fuel used: 14.6 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 30.2 mpg
Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 28/36/31 (mpg city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||A-|
|Power and Performance||B-|
|Fit and Finish||B-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||158-hp 1.5L|
|Engine Type||Turbo 4-cylinder|
Base price: $27,245 (not including $1195 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: King’s Red Metallic paint ($395); panoramic sunroof ($1200), IQ.DRIVE SE Package ($895; includes Travel Assist semi-autonomous driver-assist system, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, Emergency Assist, blind-spot monitor ), 18-inch black alloy wheels on all-season tires ($395), SE Convenience Package (included w/ IQ.DRIVE SE Package; adds heated steering wheel, automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing wipers)
Price as tested: $31,325
The great: Generous passenger and cargo room within tidy exterior dimensions, with better-than-expected back-seat space; attractive pricing
The good: Clean styling inside and out; nicely balanced driving dynamics for a crossover SUV; decent fuel efficiency
The not so good: Lackluster interior materials; fairly noisy in highway driving; some instrumentation/control-interface quirks
Volkswagen’s new-for-2022 subcompact SUV is particularly compelling evidence of the way crossover SUVs are displacing traditional passenger cars as Americans’ commuter vehicles of choice. The Taos is essentially a direct replacement for the discontinued Volkswagen Golf, the mainstream version of which is no longer sold in America (only the high-performance Golf GTI and Golf R models remain).
The first Taos we tested at Consumer Guide was an all-wheel-drive SE (the Taos’ mid-line trim level) with no optional equipment. This time around, we had a front-wheel-drive SE with a few options—enough add-ons, in fact, that the bottom-line price ended up about $1400 more than our AWD tester, despite the AWD model having a base price that was about $1400 higher.
In addition to their higher starting prices, AWD vehicles are almost always a bit less economical than their 2WD siblings. With the Taos, this fuel-economy penalty is notable in terms of both the EPA’s estimates and the real-world fuel economy we observed during our test. The Taos’s sole engine is a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, and it’s rated at 28 mpg city/36 highway/31 combined with front-wheel drive, and 25/32/28 with all-wheel drive. That’s a gap of 2-4 mpg, and the difference was even greater with our observed fuel economy: We averaged 30.2 mpg even in our front-drive Taos, compared to 25.3 mpg in our all-wheel-drive Taos. That’s an improvement of almost five mpg, though we’ll note that our AWD Taos test included a slightly higher percentage of stop-and-go city driving versus more-economical highway driving: 70 percent, to be exact, versus 65 percent with our front-driver.
In addition to its better fuel economy, we found the front-drive Taos more pleasant to drive around town as well, because it uses a traditional 8-speed automatic transmission instead of the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic of the AWD Taos. Dual-clutch transmissions often exhibit a clunky, unrefined feel when pulling away from a stop and in low-speed driving, and the Taos’s 7-speed definitely falls into this category. In fact, it’s one of the clunkiest DCTs we’ve tested in recent memory. The front-drive Taos’s 8-speed automatic is exceptionally smooth and unobtrusive by comparison.
Transmissions, fuel economy, and drive wheels aside, the Taos is a likable small SUV that offers excellent passenger and cargo room within its tidy exterior dimensions—the rear seat is particularly spacious for the class. The touchscreen controls have their quirks, and the cabin décor is a bit cut-rate in spots, but Taos prices are quite competitive across the line considering the space on offer. You can check out our test-drive review of the AWD Taos here for more information.
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(Click below for enlarged images)
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