Published on October 14th, 2020 | by Joshua Chin


Volkswagen Taos Compact SUV Debuts In North America

Volkswagen shrinks the Tiguan to compete with the likes of the Honda HR-V. 

The compact SUV market in North America is set to get even more crowded today, as Volkswagen officially marks its entry into the segment with its new Taos compact SUV. Slotting underneath the Tiguan mid-sized SUV, the new Taos is set to shake up what is the largest vehicle segment in America currently. 

Competing with the likes of the Honda HR-V and Subaru XV, Volkswagen’s fifth new SUV addition in its North American lineup is a tad larger than the former and about the same size as the latter. Not that one will know this from looking at the pictures, as the Taos deceivingly looks larger than it actually is. 

Speaking of the looks of the German compact crossover, the Taos’ boxy, angular exterior aesthetic is much like a shrunken down version of its Tiguan big brother. There are however a few neat design touches specific to the Taos that is worth a mention. Chief among which is perhaps the single illuminated line that intersects the VW logo on the front grille. The multifaceted front bumper design with large air intakes and exposed skid plate also gives this compact SUV a more purposeful front end aesthetic. 

Continuing down the side, the chunky black plastic cladding on the squared off wheel aches accentuate the chunky SUV styling of the Taos. A sleek dagger design Taos side emblem on the front fender though brings a touch of city sophistication to the side profile of this boxy compact SUV.

Audi-like LED tail lights are the main highlight round the back of the Taos. Interestingly too, the Taos nameplate is featured on the centre of the tailgate, much like what is seen on the current generation Golf. The chunky black bumpers continue behind, this time culminating in the exposed rear skid plate flanked by two gigantic exhausts. 

Those giant exhausts however do not point to anything particularly feisty under the hood. Instead, the sole powertrain offered in the Taos at launch will be a 1.5 litre EA211 turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the likes of which is seen in the current North American-spec Jetta sedan. Producing an adequate 158 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, drive is sent to the front wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission, or a 7-speed dual clutch transmission in the 4Motion four wheel drive variants. 

Four wheel drive variants will also feature 19 inch alloys, while the lowly two wheel drive variants come as standard with only 17 inch alloy wheels. Though there are larger 18 inch designs available on the extensive options list. 

Stepping inside this compact five seat SUV, the cabin of the Taos is very much typical VW fare, Though there appears to be some attempt to liven things up with some funky designs on the passenger dash pad, in addition to the angular central MIB3 8-inch infotainment display surround and two-tone upholstery on the seats. It is nice to see too that the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit instrument cluster is standard on all three trim levels of the Taos, as are automatic headlights and keyless-go. 

In terms of safety features, the Taos features the full suite of Volkswagen’s IQ DRIVE active driver aids, which includes 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. High Beam Control (Light Assist), the Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), and Park Distance Control are also available, presumably as optional extras. 

Built in VW’s Puebla, Mexico factory, the Taos is slated to hit the North American market in the second quarter of 2021. Pricing has yet been officially announced, but conservative estimates put it to be around $24,000 (RM 99,500). Not too bad for a compact crossover. 


That said, the Taos is highly unlikely to make its way past the borders of North America. Seeing as Volkswagen already makes the similarly-sized (and similarly interestingly named) T-Roc compact crossover in Europe. That one perhaps, will be the more likely contender if Volkswagen Malaysia ever intends enter the compact crossover market locally. That said again, seeing the competitiveness of the local compact SUV market, especially with the X50 coming up, the only hope for the T-Roc surviving here will probably only be in cheaper locally assembled CKD form. 

PRESS RELEASE: Volkswagen of America, Inc. unveiled the all-new 2022 Taos today. The Volkswagen Taos will slot under the Tiguan, and is the second proof point of Volkswagen’s doubling-up SUV strategy following the launch of Atlas Cross Sport earlier this year. The vehicle is positioned in the largest U.S. vehicle segment, the compact SUV market, where 4 million vehicles were sold in 2019—around 24 percent of the market.  The Taos is small in stature, but big on value, with bold design, smart packaging, and high-end features.

“Taos is our fifth new addition to the Volkswagen SUV family in just four years, and we’re thrilled to keep finding new ways to meet the needs of American families,” said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “Taos will bookend our compact SUV offering, giving buyers all the style, technology, and drivability that Volkswagen is known for at an even more affordable price.”

The Volkswagen SUV design DNA is clear in the exterior of the Taos. It bears a bold front end with a sculpted hood, and LED light signature reminiscent of the Atlas Cross Sport. Top trims feature LED headlights with the Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), and an illuminated light line stretching outward from the logo, as on the recently unveiled ID.4 electric SUV. The distinctive side profile, with a strong character line, harkens to the Tiguan, while the more squared-off wheel arches give a nod to Atlas. Eight colors meet four wheel designs—17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels are standard, with two 18-inch wheels (machined or black finish) and 19-inch wheels available—and a panoramic sunroof is optional.

Dimensionally, Taos sits at the middle of the entry compact SUV space, in contrast to the Tiguan, which sits at the top of the compact SUV space. Nose to tail, Taos is 175.8 inches long—9.3 inches shy of Tiguan—with a wheelbase of 105.9 inches; it is 72.5 inches wide and 64.4 inches tall. Passenger space is a roomy 99.5 cubic feet—just 1.6 cu ft less than the two-row Tiguan—with 28.1 cu ft of luggage space behind the second-row seats and 66.3 cu ft with the second row folded down. In addition to offering generous cargo space, the Taos offers a comfortable ride for all passengers, with 40.1 inches of legroom in the front and 37.9 in the rear.

Inside, the Taos features modern design and premium fit and finish. The cockpit is composed of clean lines with a horizontal focus; dash décor divides the central touchscreen from climate controls and flows seamlessly into the door inserts, adding visual interest. Two-tone seats are standard—whether in the base cloth or optional leatherette and leather seating surfaces—and include a luxurious French Roast and black combination for top-of-the-line models. Standard comfort and convenience features include automatic headlights and push-button start; KESSY® keyless access is available, along with an 8-way power driver seat, dual-zone Climatronic® climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a heated leatherette steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated side mirrors and heated washer nozzles.

Taos offers the latest in Volkswagen connectivity and infotainment technology. The Volkswagen Digital Cockpit configurable instrument cluster comes standard, as does Volkswagen Car-Net with in-car WiFi capability when you subscribe to a data plan. The MIB3 infotainment system with wireless charging and wireless App-Connect for compatible devices is available from mid-level trims and is paired with an 8-inch touchscreen with voice control, SiriusXM® satellite radio (three-month trial), and available navigation. Top trims add 10-color ambient lighting and a premium BeatsAudio® sound system with 8 speakers.

The IQ.DRIVE® suite of driver assistance technology is available on every Taos model, featuring 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. High Beam Control (Light Assist), the Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), and Park Distance Control are also available.

The Taos is powered by a 1.5-liter version of the EA211 turbocharged four-cylinder engine that currently powers the Jetta sedan. Making 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, the new engine offers a number of high-tech features designed to help produce outstanding fuel economy. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission in the front-wheel-drive model, while models with 4Motion® all-wheel drive get a seven-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission.

There will be three trim levels: S, SE, and SEL. Taos will be produced in the North American Region at Volkswagen’s Puebla, Mexico factory. More details and pricing will be announced ahead of the launch in the summer of 2021.

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