Volkswagen of America doesn’t need to say it, however the brand new VW Taos (which simply went on sale) is a alternative for the Golf that ’Mericans don’t purchase. We’ve mainlined Golfs since they changed the Beetle within the late Seventies, once they have been known as Rabbits, however no extra: We solely like tall hatchbacks now, aka “crossovers.”

That makes the squat-looking Taos ($25,040, AWD; $22,995, FWD) the appropriate taste of the last decade, aimed straight on the Subaru Crosstrek. The latter is a darling of the “adventure” driving set. These people (principally) don’t truly drive grime, however since Subaru crushes in key “off-road-intender” areas the place VW additionally sells nicely—like New England, Colorado, in addition to the Northwest—the compact-SUV Taos is a should for Volkswagen.

And VW nailed its math in 4 key methods:

1) It’s acquired extra rear room than the Subaru. That’s 8 inches extra headroom and 1.5 inches extra rear seat knee room. The Crosstrek actually isn’t comfortable sufficient for 4 full-sized adults, however the Taos actually is. And with these again seats folded or upright, the Veedub additionally smokes the Subaru with as much as 60.2 cubic toes of cargo quantity aft of the entrance seats.

VW Taos backseat

You’d get much more for those who purchased the front-wheel-drive model of the Taos, however Volkswagen is aware of 60 % or extra of its gross sales might be for the mannequin that twists rubber in any respect 4 corners.

VW Taos drive 2) It’s enjoyable to drive. The Taos with AWD will get a seven-speed DSG (dual-clutch) transmission. The Subaru will be had with a guide, but it surely’s sadly not a sporty gearbox. The CVT computerized within the Crosstrek is ok, however the DSG is a extra partaking row-your-own setup, and will be shifted to an automatic mode in visitors. The suspension, whereas not as buttoned-down as you’d get from a GTI, resists physique roll—and it didn’t moan or creak after we pointed the entrance wheels straight at a few of rural New York state’s bespoke potholes.

VW Taos sunroof 3) Safety tech is reasonable. VW has included LED headlights for all fashions, however they’ve additionally acquired a package deal known as IQ Drive for lower than $1,000. This consists of adaptive cruise management with stop-and-go help (so you may crawl in visitors with the system dealing with the majority of the chore), blind-spot monitoring, lane maintaining, and computerized forward-collision warning and emergency braking.

VW Taos Ground clearance 4) Something to stay up for. OK, floor clearance isn’t excessive sufficient vs. the Crosstrek, at simply 6.5 inches vs. 8.7 inches, however VW’s already proven off a extra succesful Basecamp Concept that’s lifted and rolls on extra aggressive rubber. VW will certainly supply that as an in-house improve quickly, what with Bronco Sport, and Jeep Compass to compete with. Volkswagen additionally hinted closely that there could also be a GTI model of the Taos to come back. That can be welcome, too. The 1.5-liter turbocharged energy plant within the Taos makes all 184 lb-ft of its torque at simply 1,750 rpm. But a extra pinned-down, faster Taos would possibly make prior VW hatchback and wagon consumers miss these vehicles much less—and make them be taught to like the unending crossover zeitgeist.

VW Taos

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