A Nice Crossover With An Unsatisfactory Powertrain – VW Taos 4Motion

June 19th, 2023 at 3:40pm


Volkswagen of America made a smart decision when it decided to add more crossovers to its lineup. The Tiguan, Atlas and Taos quickly became the best selling models in its lineup, and in that order.

It’s easy to see why these crossovers resonate with consumers. They offer the kind of look, feel and performance of VW’s sedans and hatchbacks, yet with a lot more room for hauling people and cargo. The Taos captures this perfectly.

As with all of VW’s ICE vehicles, the styling of the Taos features hard straight lines, both inside and out. It’s conservative, but that’s what a lot of customers like–straightforward design that doesn’t pretend to be more than it really is. It’s authentic.

Inside you get what you expect. Hard, firm seats that hold you in an upright position. Very Teutonic. Thanks to the upright seating position the driver has good visibility all around and the Taos is very maneuverable, which makes it easy to drive.


There’s a center screen with plenty of connectivity, but there are plenty buttons and knobs, so you don’t have to go hunting through different screens to get what you want. Again, that ties into the conservative demeanor of this crossover.

The powertrain, however, is a let down. The Taos is powered by a 1.5-liter turbo that generates 158 hp and 184 lb-ft. And the all wheel drive version comes with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission that I found to be an unsatisfactory combination.

In most driving situations it’s fine. With only 158 horsepower, you really have to put your foot in it to get it to accelerate briskly. But it will get you there. The problem comes in situations when you start to accelerate at low speeds, but have to back off for a moment, then try to accelerate again. There’s nothing there. The turbo loses rpm and the Taos becomes sluggishly responsive. You don’t want that to happen in an emergency driving situation.


I had that happen to me a couple of times in traffic during the week of my test drive and found it more than a bit annoying. You can manually shift the DCT to try and overcome the problem, but I suspect most customers just want to put it in Drive and not be bothered by shifting.

The two wheel drive version of the Taos comes with a regular automatic transmission and I’ll bet that is less susceptible to this problem since a torque converter will get the vehicle moving more quickly.

The Taos is a decent vehicle but it left me wanting a more responsive driving experience.

–John McElroy

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