Drive Notes: 2024 Volkswagen Taos SEL

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

This week I was testing the 2024 Volkswagen Taos SEL.


VW's small SUV is built on the brand's well-used MQB platform. That was evident in the pros and cons I experienced, as you'll see.

This one was an SEL trim with all-wheel drive. Underhood sits a 1.5-liter turbo four making 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. If you opt for all-wheel drive, you get a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission.

Without further ado, here are your pros and cons for the 2024 Volkswagen Taos.

Pros

  • I've bagged on Volkswagen for having steering that's too artificially light in the past, but here it had appropriate heft.
  • For a crossover, the Taos's handling moves are somewhat athletic.
  • VW didn't overdo the haptic touch stuff here -- there were still knobs for volume and tuning and the HVAC controls.
  • The ride was a nice mix of sport and stiff, never too soft.
  • The overall interior packaging was well done.
  • There was decent leg- and headroom in the second row, but only if the front seat wasn't slid too far back.
  • The $35,000 (including fees) price tag doesn't feel unreasonable.
  • The fuel-economy numbers are solid, especially the 32 mpg on the highway.

Cons

  • There was some low-speed driveline lash while pulling away from stop signs and stop lights that really put a damper on the experience.
  • The stop/start system could be slow to re-fire when the light turned green.
  • The infotainment touchscreen is kinda small.
  • Like I said, rear-seat room seemed plentiful, but sliding a front seat fully back cuts into the legroom something fierce.
  • A power liftgate is not available, at all, on the Taos. That may sound like a so-called first-world problem, but it really does matter when dealing with groceries and it does seem like a feature that should be available on the SEL trim, especially with the starting price of $33K. Especially since there is a panoramic sunroof.
  • The engine had low-end grunt but seemed to run out of steam a bit at higher RPMs.
  • There's an auto shut-off feature. Handy for saving fuel, but annoying when you're in line for the car wash, vehicle in park, and you take your seatbelt off for comfort -- and then it shuts down. Not fun on an extremely hot day with the A/C now being taken away from you. I get why these features exist, but this one was a bit quick on the trigger.
  • While most interior materials felt price appropriate, some cheaper plastics on the top of the doors annoyed me.

Overall I liked the Taos a bit better as an enthusiast's crossover than the similarly-sized and priced Hyundai Kona I drove the week before. That said, the Hyundai was a bit nicer in terms of material quality and probably a better overall all-around package. Still, if you want a small crossover that feels like a tall Golf/Jetta, the Taos is your ride. If not for the driveline lash (the Hyundai also had some low-speed clunkiness, to be fair) and some of the cons listed above, I'd be a stronger advocate for the Taos. As it is, most of my beefs are small and would be easy enough to live with -- or for VW to fix at the next refresh date. The Taos does a lot well, especially in terms of driving dynamics, it just needs a bit of tweaking.

[Images © 2024 Tim Healey/TTAC.com]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • TheEndlessEnigma TheEndlessEnigma on Jun 21, 2024
    I've owned a VW in the past and learned my lesson. Any kind of repair was absurdly expensive which I understand is typical of VW nowadays.
  • TMA1 TMA1 on Jun 21, 2024
    Been thinking about getting one of these for my mother. Skip the AWD and DSG, the FWD comes with an 8-spd. Good size vehicle for a woman who wants a SUV and has a small garage. Much better view outwards than the Mazda CX-30 I was looking at. Wish it had a power tailgate though - she's short.
  • Bob65688581 We bought zillions of German cars, despite knowing about WWII slave labor. Refusing to buy something for ideological reasons is foolish.Both the US and the EU have imposed tariffs, so the playing field is level. I'll buy the best price/quality, regardless of nationality.Another interesting question would be "Would you buy one of the many new European moderate-price EVs?" but of course they aren't sold here.Third interesting question: "Why won't Stellantis sell its best products in America?"
  • Freshblather No. Worried there will be malicious executable code built into the cars motherboard that could disable the Chinese cars in the event of hostilities between the west and China.
  • Bd2 Absolutely not - do not want to support a fascist, totalitarian regime.
  • SCE to AUX The original Capri was beautiful. The abomination from the 90s was no Capri, and neither is this.It looks good, but too similar to a Polestar. And what's with the whacked price?
  • Rover Sig Absolutely not. Ever.
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