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2022 Volkswagen Taos: Cool tech, disappointing drive

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As a Volkswagen owner, this is a tough review to write. I wanted to like the all-new 2022 Taos, and instead I ended up being disappointed.

The Taos is now the smallest SUV in the VW lineup, and essentially, it will replace the non-performance Golf hatch in the U.S. I really liked the Golf. And I own a GTI. So, perhaps I came into the drive with too high of an expectation.

And there are some good things on this compact SUV. So, why don’t we start there.

The good stuff

One area Volkswagen shines is with interior design and appointments. They don’t do anything flashy, and if you’ve driven one VeeDub, you’ll be familiar with what the interior of the 2022 Volkswagen Taos looks like. It has strong horizontal lines and utilizes a lot of black. You have dials and knobs for HVAC and audio tuning (hurray!), and the test model had heated-and-cooled front seats as well as dual automatic climate control.

Since the test vehicle was a top-tier SEL trim, it had all the extras you could possible want, including a well-placed wireless charging pad, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leather seats, a solid adaptive cruise control system and VW’s Digital Cockpit Pro.

I like all of these things.

Plus, the CarPlay was easy to use via the touch screen, my phone was easy to pair via Bluetooth, and I love the look of the adjustable digital cluster. Another finish touch I really liked: the subtle ambient lighting.

Since the test vehicle also added AWD and a panoramic moonroof, the as-tested price was $36,040, which is a decent price for such a well-equipped compact SUV.

The bad stuff

Black. Lacquer. I can almost begin and end the section with those two words. In addition to using it on the center stack, Volkswagen adds insult to injury by adding black shiny bits to the dash itself. While it looks good directly after a good detail, all those shiny bits are just going to collect dust and fingerprints.

The other thing that was less than idea is the weird angle of the steering wheel. It points upward at a slight angle, which gave me the feeling of driving a school bus or truck rather than a small SUV. It was weird.

The disappointment

The first time I got behind the wheel, I hit a stop sign immediately. And when I saw a break in traffic to make a right turn, I hit the gas pedal aggressively. The vehicle paused, then lurched to a start with a chugging motion. What in the Sam Hill? I thought it was a fluke, but at the next stop light with a left turn, it did a lurch and chug again.

I thought perhaps it was the gas + turn that caused the problem, but sure enough at the next stoplight where I went straight, lurch and chug.

After playing around with manual mode and varying acceleration pressures, I came to the conclusion there is something weird going on with the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT), which is only available with the AWD model. If you baby the gas pedal with any acceleration, the lurch and chug goes away. If you use manual mode and adjust the gears as you would a manual transmission, the same thing happens.

So, the problem is when the DCT operates in automatic mode. The shift pattern is off, and it holds the gear too long before shifting, which in turn creates a very jerky ride.

Once you’re on the highway, the lurch and chug disappears – even when passing. So, highway driving is quite pleasant.

But if you have a lot of city driving that includes stoplights and stop signs, and you’re a more aggressive driver, you will not like how this handles.

This is such a huge disappointment because I have previously loved how Volkwagens handle. The turbo engines are peppy, and the acceleration is on the fun side of the spectrum.

This, for me, is a dealbreaker.

I’d be curious about the 8-speed transmission with the front-wheel-drive model. I’ve heard it’s a lot (read: a lot) better.

The bottom line on the 2022 Volkswagen Taos

Maybe how I feel about the 2022 Volkswagen Taos is kind of like when you go to an over-hyped movie. You expect the moon and walk away dissatisfied.

The Taos has a lot going for it, but that 7-speed DCT is not it.

So, if you’re looking to do a test drive of this vehicle, be sure to test both front- and all-wheel-drive models and include several stop signs or stop lights on your route.

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is the Managing Editor for Pickup Truck + SUV Talk as well as a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality and podcast host, with her articles and videos appearing in outlets throughout the U.S. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly radio show on car stuff for a local Chicago station. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for both newspaper and broadcast media conglomerates. She is also a past president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. Jill is also currently a juror for the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY).

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1 Comment

  1. Josh September 15, 2022

    I’m a GTI owner and got a brand new (24 miles) traps for rental while getting a door fixed. I actually googled Taos bad first gear to make sure I wasn’t going crazy. This thing is an absolute dog in first gear. Unless you can literally coast down a hill until it shoots to second it will chug like a bad first time driver learning stick. I’m almost tempted to ask for a different rental, it’s so bad.


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