2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL 1.5T S-AWC vs 2022 Volkswagen Taos 1.5 SEL: Battle of the off-brand SUV babies.
This week: volkswagen tao
Price: $33,080 as tested. The only option is $395 for paint that looks like a glossy gray primer. Why?
Conventional wisdom: Motor Trend liked the “surprisingly roomy interior, comfortable and easy driving manners, great fuel economy on the highway”, but not that it was “insultingly overpriced”, suffered from “sluggish acceleration, lacking standard driving aids”.
Marketer pitch: “The compact and fun SUV.”
Reality: Well, it’s compact.
Kids, I’m going to have to see you after school: It seems that Mitsubishi and Volkswagen are copying each other in class with these models. Two SELs? Two 1.5 liter engines? It’s strange.
What’s up: The Taos is all-new for 2022, somewhat replacing the Golf SportWagen-Alltrack, though it met its demise in 2019.
» READ MORE: The 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a quantum leap for the automaker
Up to speed: If you’re not in a rush, the Taos might be for you. The four-cylinder creates 158 horsepower, enough to take it to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, according to Motor Trend. It’s disappointing, but it matches last week’s Mitsubishi. Again with sharing homework.
Still, the Taos feels quite peppy just to get around, feeling like the idle is set high, so it can hit 30 or faster. After that, however, all bets are off for straight-line acceleration, though it’s not too bad to live with over hill and dale.
Sly: The 8-speed automatic transmission gives it something to stand out from the Eclipse Cross, which has a CVT. The performance is quite pleasant, with a gear lever to change gears or an automatic mode that works well.
On the road: The Taos holds its own when the going gets windy, but it’s nothing really fun and certainly not up to usual Volkswagen standards. The vehicle does well on highways, which is more than one could say of the Eclipse Cross.
Sport mode makes driving a little more fun. But the front-drive Taos wants to rev harder than you want it to, as front-drivers do. Yes, it’s a shame that it costs so much for the front-wheel-drive version.
Normal drive mode can feel a little jerky at times when coming out of a stop.
Driver’s seat: The Taos looks like a Volkswagen – a very cheap Volkswagen. “Tin can” would be the best metaphor for the small SUV.
The seat, however, is comfortable enough and offers some support as well. Front headroom is incredible, as the Taos feels like it was built in a Cadillac ambulance factory.
» READ MORE: Electrified holidays in the Volkswagen ID.4
Friends and Stuff: The rear seat offers roomy space, with excellent leg and head room and very good foot clearance. The middle-seat passenger will have knee pain, both from hitting them into the console and from holding them on the bump. But the seat itself is quite nice for the price.
Cargo space is 27.9 with the rear seat up and 65.9 when folded. (That drops about 5 percent in the all-wheel-drive model.)
Play some tunes: Volkswagens are known for their easy-to-use infotainment systems, and this was almost no exception. The dials control volume and tuning, although this unit had a more complicated Sirius setup and I couldn’t scroll through stations. First I had to choose a genre, but unfortunately I’m so open-minded that my tastes cross more than one.
The Taos also sported the fancy new USB-C connectors, designed to provide a stable income for connector makers, and which I refuse to bow to. So I was stuck with Bluetooth, and this Volkswagen and my recent Atlas test both had annoying connection issues. If the world wants me to stop hating technology, they can’t get me involved.
The sound of the system, when I got to play it, was pretty good, about an A-.
Keeping warm and cool: At least some functions remain consistent. Dials control temperature and fan speed, and easy-to-read buttons control source and seat heating.
Night watch: The Taos sees well at night. A stuck map light button seemed to say “Volkswagen”, although I managed to free it.
Fuel economy: The Taos trip odometer recorded the last 800 miles of driving, and the vehicle averaged 32 mpg, a very respectable number.
Where it is built: Puebla, Mexico
How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the reliability of the Taos to be 2 out of 5.
At the end: I couldn’t believe the fleet had organized my schedule with these two models; I would have delved into my notes to see that they are both new and competitive.
Although Mitsubishi did quite an impressive performance with the Eclipse Cross, the Taos seemed much more easygoing. I was thinking of sending readers straight to the Subaru or the Hyundai Kona, but after reviewing these columns I realized the Taos had plenty of room, comfort and economy, and might be worth it to be considered.