2022 Volkswagen Taos SE l Review

I’m going to do something I’ve never done, and that is post a review…without any of my one photos. I’m an accomplished photographer, in that OEMs have commented on my social media posts positively. Hey, it’s an accomplishment, shut up. But when my iPhone crapped the bed back in August, I somehow lost every single photo of this 2022 Volkswagen Taos SE. So, I’m reduced to trolling the media galleries on their website, and for that, I’m sorry. Not that their pics are bad, they aren’t, it’s just something I would never do. With that disappointment out of the way, on to the review.

2022 Volkswagen Taos SE

Taos Overview

The Taos lineup for 2022 is pretty simple, you’ve got S, SE, and SEL. In a world of complicated trim levels, that is pretty refreshing. Our tester was an SE, which starts at just over $27,000. It was cool to not get the top spec loaner since a lot of buyers will opt for the midrange version.

Here is the “monroney” (as the journalist kids call it) for my loaner. Gray paint, pano roof, VW’s IQ.Drive package, and some rims and tires. Out the door for $31,325, pretty solid for a well-equipped SUV. Let’s see if it’s any good.

Exterior

I really dig the exterior vibe that VW is putting out. Where a lot of automakers are trying to see how many intersecting “character lines” they can add during the design process, VW is like “here, look at this” and the designer pisses off to the pub. Or whatever they call it in Germany. Biergarten?

I like the wide three-bar grille, and the squared off wheel haunches, which are reminiscent of Atlas Cross Sport and gives the Taos a butch, yet upscale look.

Interior

On the inside, VW continues the simplified design language. The screen is nicely integrated, vs. being propped up on the top of the dash like a glued on iPad. The eight-inch digital cockpit is crisp, clear, and easily viewable through the steering wheel. Similarly the eight-inch touchscreen is laid out well and easy to use. I also like the simple HVAC controls, it’s all there with easy to use knobs.

Technically there is seating for five, but the person sitting mid-center in the back is likely going to be praying for a short ride. With 27.9 cubic-feet of cargo room, you’ll have pretty solid room for your gear. In typical VW fashion most of the materials were first rate and felt more expensive than they likely were. My only criticism was the hard plastic bit next to the center console. It is extremely hard and I tend to rest my knee there while driving. My knee was sore after a 45 minute drive, an unfortunate result in a vehicle built out nice stuff.

It was really the audio/visual areas where the Taos faltered. I know we are moving to USB-C, and I’ll suck it up when that’s the standard. Like the last VW I tested, the ID4, the Taos only had USB-C connections. Luckily VW added wireless charging and wireless App-Connect so I didn’t need a cord. Until I did. At one point, I completely lost connection to CarPlay, which means that the wireless Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections aren’t that reliable yet. Then, after I got it reconnected, I accidentally pressed the radio button and I lost connection to CarPlay. Then, for some reason Waze came back, but Pandora did not. Frustrating to say the least.

Could be worse, the entire AM/FM/XM radio system stopped working at one point. Pandora and CarPlay still worked, mercifully, but the other over-the-air frequencies disappeared and did not return during the loan. Finally, my phone got really hot in the wireless charger, up until the point where it stopped working. Chalk 10%-20% of this up to user error, I’m pretty tech savvy but hopping from car to car each week, I never really and truly learn the ins and outs of an infotainment system. However, some of the stuff just flat broke, giving me some flashbacks to my 2002 Jetta. I was in the service waiting room so often, I think I developed some form of automotive PTSD.

2022 Volkswagen Taos SE

Driving Impressions

The Taos is powered by a 1.5L TSI engine with 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque that is paired with 8-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. A 7-speed DSG dual- clutch automatic is available when you go for the 4Motion all-wheel drive version. There weren’t really any points where I said to myself “this is front-wheel-drive”. The powertrain does a good job just shuffling the fairly light (3,175 pound) crossover around town. I didn’t feel any of the “why won’t you go” moments merging onto the highway that I have with some other compact crossovers.

Driving criticisms were pretty minor, I hate to start stop future, especially when it (was) 95° outside. The HVAC system takes a siesta when the engine is turned off. Also, the turn signal is incredibly loud, something particularly noticeable when the stereo stops working. Again, pretty minor stuff.

Summary

The Taos is a ton (actually a ton and a half) of vehicle for the money. For around $30,000 you get a sculpted exterior, a well sorted interior, and decent space for people and stuff. Buyers looking for an entry-level crossover should definitely check out the Taos, just make sure you get any infotainment issues fixed quickly while it’s under warranty!

2 Comments

  1. So, I’m assuming this competes with the RAV4, CRV, Compass, etc.? It’s cleanly-styled and handsome enough in a very anonymous way. However, if I were interested in this category of car, I think I would go for something more funky looking like the Kia Seltos. The Taos looks tasteful, but pretty forgettable. Given the competition, I would think VW would do something to make it stand out a bit more. If you want boring, Honda and Toyota have that covered with established build quality, reliability, and resale value thrown in as a bonus.

    My biggest complaint is the powertrain, though. Anything with <200 hp and lb-ft should at least be available with a manual transmission. I give them credit for the DSG to perk things up, but that still wouldn't make this an enjoyable car for me to drive.

    (And yeah, these pics are fine for the review, but definitely not up to your typical caliber.)

  2. I dunno. The curse of this globalisation thing is that everything is more the same. After reading about John Muir and his service shop for air-cooled VWs, it seems hollow to slap the ‘Taos’ tribute name onto a metzo-blah small CUV. While VW hasn’t been making air-cooled cars for quite some time now, I do sort of wonder where the “Germaness” of VW has gone. I remember the early 2000s seeing VWs like the Bora, Golf IV, and even Touareg and thinking they seemed impressively German with simple, fastidiously-resolved lines and squared-off interiors. Now it’s all angular and fussy (I absolutely hate how the top of the rear lights curves upwards against the strongly-pressed swage line), and if you covered the badges and I hadn’t known about the Koreans’ recent design revolution, I’d assume it’s the next gen Sportage. The interior too, while the switchgear has that nice German look to it, the dash is just covered in horrible swoops and curves that I think cheapen it; why is the center screen rectangular, but in a pentagonal shape with dead space on the sides? The VW I knew would never.

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