Hey Goldilocks, Which Volkswagen SUV is Right for You? Comparing the VW Atlas, VW Tiguan and VW Taos

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It may not be as easy to decide as you think.

Volkswagen has been on a tear lately. Since the introduction of the VW Atlas in 2017, which lit the company’s sales on fire, VW has redesigned the Tiguan in the style of the Atlas and nicely outfitted each trim level. Not only that, they added three more SUVs to the lineup: The 2 row 5 passenger Atlas CrossSport, the diminutive Taos and the electric ID.4.

All 5 offer great options for SUV buyers, including some premium standard features like all wheel drive, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, large digital multimedia screens and leather or leatherette seating, even at a value price. But, it’s a shopping conundrum that can make you feel like Goldilocks: you can get what you want and need, but how much SUV is too much? How little is not enough? We took a look at each and assessed the differences.

Related: What We Love About the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas

The 2022 Vw Atlas Is Large But Capable
The 2022 VW Atlas is large but capable. Photo: Scotty Reiss

It Started with Atlas and Got Better from There

For so long, SUVs seemed an to be an afterthought for the German carmaker. They were known for value cars that offered a great drive experience, smart technology and competitive pricing. But without a true fully capable SUV lineup, VW was a non-contender for many US buyers. Then, VW found itself in the midst of a scandal regarding diesel emissions. Many wondered if the world’s largest automaker would remain in the US. But revising their strategy around SUVs would revive Volkswagen’s fortunes.  

In 2017 VW introduced the Atlas and made a splash; it won a lot of praise and set sales records. That’s because the US VW team made a case to the German HQ to be given the job of customizing Atlas for the North American market. Smartly, the folks at HQ listened—clearly a good decision; SUVs now make up 75% of VW’s sales in the US. 

Since that introduction, the Volkswagen Tiguan was redesigned as a mini-me of the Atlas and is a best seller around the world. This year saw the introduction of the Volkswagen Taos, a mini-mini-me version of the Atlas. 2020 also welcomed the Atlas CrossSport, a sportier, more muscular two-row version of the Atlas, and the Volkswagen ID.4, an all electric 5 passenger SUV. 

All have similar good looks and design details; if you like the VW SUV aesthetic and features, the only task is to figure out which one is right for you. Here’s what they all have in common: 

  • Each has the chiseled front end with a slatted grille. It can be difficult to tell them apart from the front, which when it comes to good looks is a good thing
  • Each now has the model name is now spelled out across the rear tail gate and carries the newly refined VW logo on the front end, rear end and steering wheel
  • All are available in all wheel drive, which VW calls 4Motion; it’s about $1500 more except on trims in which AWD is standard
  • Each (except ID.4) is available in S, SE and SEL trims; Tiguan and Atlas are also available in the top of the line sport-focused R Line
  • VW’s Car-Net app, a free download, allows you to operate some functions remotely, and is an important feature for ID.4 owners
  • I.Q. Drive driver assist and safety features are standard; these include adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane keep assist, emergency assist, forward collision braking active blind spot monitoring and rear traffic alert
  • Each has Alexa compatibility allowing you to remotely start the car, turn on the climate and more from a connected Alexa device
  • Each has a WiFi hotspot
  • A 4 year warranty, 7 year corrosion warranty, 3 years roadside assistance  and a 2 year free maintenance plan are standard 

Related: VW ID.4 Review: The EV That Changed My Mind About Rural Electrification

The Vw Atlas Cross Sport
The VW Atlas Cross Sport. Photo: Scotty Reiss

How the Atlas, CrossSport, Tiguan, Taos and ID.4 Are Different 

You wouldn’t be wrong to think it’s simply a matter of small, medium and large. Fortunately it goes beyond that, to value, function and some unique details. Let’s take a closer look at the different models: 

The 2022 Vw Taos
The 2022 VW Taos. Photo: Scotty Reiss – Credit: Scotty Reiss

The Compact Taos Offers VW Features at an Entry Price

Taos, which is a new addition to the SUV lineup for 2021, is the smallest of the SUVs but not the least roomy. I found the front and rear seats to be surprisingly comfortable for this compact SUV.

The Taos has:

  • A 1.5 L 4-cylinder turbo engine with 158 horsepower and 184 torque
  • Front wheel drive is standard but 4Motion AWD is an option
  • The rear seats are fixed, so they don’t move forward or back
  • A very roomy cargo area with 28 cubic feet behind the rear seats
  • A new front grille featuring a light bar and LED headlights
  • Premium Beats sound system is an option
  • A starting price of $22,000 and a fully loaded price of about $33,000
The Front Seat In The 2022 Vw Taos
The front seat in the 2022 VW Taos. Photo: Scotty Reiss – Credit: Scotty Reiss

I really like the evolved look of this SUV; the front light bar and new logo give it a bit of polish. I was surprised at how roomy and comfortable this small SUV is; it has good cargo space and lots of premium features for the price. The rear seat though is small, but not more than you might expect. It is fun to drive and comfortable for a great conversation with a passenger on the road. Competitors include: Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla Cross, Honda HR-V, Subaru CrossTrek, Hyundai Kona and Kia Seltos.

Related: 2022 Volkswagen Taos: The Small But Smart Starter Crossover

The 2022 Vw Tiguan
The 2022 VW Tiguan. Photo: Scotty Reiss – Credit: Scotty Reiss

The Midsize Tiguan Offers Flexible Space and Seating

Tiguan, which got a minor facelift for 2021, continues its role as the most agreeable middle child in the lineup. And it does what it does really well. It’s easy to drive, has an all wheel drive option and lots of flexible space, even a third row for extra seating when you need it.

The Tiguan has: 

  • A 4-cylinder turbo engine with 184 horsepower and 221 torque 
  • An optional 3rd row for 7 total seats; the third row is tiny, however and best suited for small passengers who can easily climb into the space
  • The center row seats can be adjusted forward and back, and recline slightly with the 3 row option 
  • Cargo space is large, with 33 cubic feet behind the second row (13 cubic feet behind the third row)
  • Premium Fender sound system is an option 
  • Starting price of about $26,000 and topping out at about $39,000
The Third Row In The Vw Tiguan Is Tight, But Great To Have If You Need It
The third row in the VW Tiguan is tight, but great to have if you need it. Photo: Scotty Reiss

We are fans of this car for its large and flexible interior in a small, easy to drive SUV, despite a third row that is so tiny it’s really only a last resort option for going to dinner or the movies. The recent design updates include the front light bar and new logo, giving it a very updated, refined look. Add the premium features and all wheel drive, and this elegant little SUV is a winner. Competitors include Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sedona

Related: 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan: A Compact SUV With a 3rd Row for Under $30k

Captains Chairs Make The Atlas'S Roomy Cabin Even Roomier
Captains chairs make the Atlas’s roomy cabin even roomier. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Atlas is the Daddy Bear With Space and Features For Families

As the biggest SUV in the VW family, this SUV makes no compromises in space or capability. With seating for 7 or 8, it’s a full sized SUV and it feels like it behind the wheel; you can feel the size and height of this in the driver’s seat, and that’s OK, because it also gives you the confidence and capability that you expect in an SUV.

The Atlas has:

  • A 4 cylinder turbo engine with 235 horsepower and 258 torque  
  • The R-Line models feature a V6 engine generating 276 horsepower and 266 torque 
  • Three full size rows, with enough room in the third row for full sized adults 
  • Center row captains chairs are an option 
  • Starting price of about $33,475 and topping out at $50,645 for the fully loaded R-Line Premium edition

I like the story of this car, but even more, I like this car. It’s simply a delight to drive, especially the R-Line with the larger engine, which is confident and responsive. The interior space is super comfortable and the third row is easy to get in and out of, and comfortable to sit in. Competitors include Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride.

Related: Hello VW Atlas Cross Sport, So Nice to Meet You!

Vw Atlas Cross Sport Interior Photo Scotty Reiss
VW Atlas Cross Sport’s media system and front seat. Photo: Scotty Reiss

AtlasCrossSport Puts Sport, and Muscle, Into Your Drive

This 5 passenger, 4 door two row version of the Atlas offers the full size drive experience without the added length and size of a 3 row SUV. This one is great for small families, fur-baby families or drivers who simply love the truck-like feel of a full size SUV but want something that is slightly smaller and sportier.

  • Has a 4-cylinder turbo engine generating 235 horsepower and 258 torque; the R-Line models have a V6 generating 276 horsepower and 266 torque
  • VW’s Digital cockpit is standard
  • Leatherette heated seats are standard
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included  
  • Pricing starts at $32,775 and tops out at $49,945

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The Atlas CrossSport is a great option if you don’t ever need a third row (and don’t want to pay for it), but need a full size SUV. I like the scale and interior space and it’s fun to drive, especially in the R-Line with the larger engine. Competitors include the Honda Passport, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevrolet Blazer and Buick Envision.

Related: Can an EV Work as a Family Car? The Car Mom Puts the VW ID.4 to the Test

The Vw Id.4 Photo Erica Mueller
The VW ID.4. Photo: Erica Mueller

All Electric ID.4 Offers SUV Capability But Leaves a Light Footprint

And its looks good. Really good. We are smitten with the interior, especially the First Edition model that features a white steering wheel and dash and a large 10” media screen. VW recently added an all wheel drive version, a much needed addition that also adds about 95 horsepower, so it’s faster and even more fun to drive. Standard features include:

  • An all electric drive range of about 250 miles, and “b” mode which increases range thorough regenerative braking
  • 201 horsepower and 229 torque; 295 horsepower and 339 torque in the AWD version 
  • 3 years of free charging at Electrify America stations 
  • A charge cord for at home or on the go charging
  • CarNet app to monitor, lock and unlock the car
  • VW’s Digital cockpit 
  • 10” multimedia screen with navigation
  • Heated seats and steering wheel
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Pricing starts at $39,995 for the Pro; the Pro S is $44,495; all wheel drive adds $3,680
The View From The Drivers Seat In The Vw Id.4. Photo Erica Mueller
The view from the drivers seat in the VW ID.4. Photo: Erica Mueller

Additionally, buyers may qualify for $7,500 a federal tax credit and state incentives too, making this car not only inexpensive to drive but less expensive to own. 

I truly love the liberating feel of driving electric. Time behind the wheel of this car left me wondering if I’ll ever crave a gas-powered car again. I can’t wait to go electric and the ID.4 is a great option. Competitors include the Hyundai Kona, Tesla Model Y, Mustang Mach-E, Chevrolet Bolt EUV, Kia Niro EV and Audi Q4 e-tron

Now, Goldilocks, go find the SUV that is just right for you! 

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss

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