Volkswagen today unveiled the Taos compact SUV. Based on the Tiguan but about 10-inches shorter, the Taos is VW’s fifth addition to the lineup in four years.
With it, VW hopes to take on the compact SUV market, the largest vehicle segment in the USA—about a quarter of all cars sold in 2019 were compact SUVs. So it was important to get this one right.
Despite looking a bit like a Tiguan at the rear, it’s got Jetta DNA under the hood. The 1.5-liter EA211 turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 158 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque—about 12 more hp than the Jetta did when it came out.
That power will be funneled through an 8-speed automatic transmission if you opt for the FWD model or through a 7-speed DSG if you choose AWD. That’ll give a leg up on the really small competition, like the Nissan Kicks.
Speaking of the Kicks, at 175-inches long the Taos is about 6-inches longer than the Nissan. In fact, it’s very nearly as big as some Tiguan competitors, like the Mazda CX-5, which is only four inches longer than the Taos.
And it makes good use of that size. With 99.5 cubic feet of passenger volume—just 1.6 cubic feet less than the two-row Tiguan. As you might expect, cargo space is down a bit on its big sibling.
With 28 cubic-feet of cargo capacity in the trunk and more than 66 cubic-feet with the back seats folded down, the Taos outguns the Kicks, which can only offer a maximum of 57 cubic-feet of cargo space. Even the CX-5 maxes out at 59 cubic-feet.
As for the rest of the interior, it’s familiar to VW fans. Two-tone seats come as standard, leatherette and leather are available, as are 8-way adjustable back seats. Those seats can also be cooled or heated, and the mirrors and windshield washer fluid nozzles can also be heated.
Like the Jetta, you get a range of colors to choose from in the interior lighting. Controlling them can be done through the 8-inch touchscreen that runs VW’s latest MIB3 infotainment software.
Thanks to that, WiFi hotspot capability is available, as are voice-controls, wireless phone charging, and SiriusXM. You can also opt for an 8-speaker BeatsAudio sound system.
As for safety tech, the Taos comes as standard with Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Braking (Front Assist), Active Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Keeping System (Lane Assist), Adaptive Cruise Control with a Stop and Go feature, Travel Assist, and Emergency Assist. You can also pay extra to get automated high-beams and park distance control.
The Taos will be offered in three trims, S, SE, and SEL. Production is being handled by VW’s Puebla plant. Volkswagen hasn’t revealed pricing yet, but that info is expected closer to launch, in the summer of 2021.
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