Small-size VW SUV is coming

Want some proof that after 30 years (dating, admittedly arbitrarily, to the birth of the Ford Explorer in 1990), the world of the SUV has made a complete revolution of reality? Consider that it was once plain old passenger cars that came in every conceivable size. The SUV market has finally, fully caught up to that concept, as these rigs now come in every proportion from gargantuan (Chevrolet Suburban, Nissan Armada) to miniscule (Chevrolet Trax, Hyundai Kona). At the lower end of the size scale is the crowded array of compact SUVs, a pool from which you can pluck the Subaru Forester, Ford Escape and Honda CR-V, among numerous other players. Volkswagen wants to elbow into this dance, too, and is planning to announce a new compact in about month, slotted below the existing Tiguan. What, you ask, does Tiguan stand for? It’s a German noun that roughly translates to “iguana.” You know, Puerto Vallarta, Liz and Dick and all that.

The teaser photo discloses what Volkswagen has chosen to reveal so far, namely its name, which will be Taos, after the small city in New Mexico. As Volkswagen helpfully notes, Taos is also the hometown of John Muir, the engineer-turned-author who penned the serendipitous volume How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step procedures for the Compleat Idiot in 1969, a hallowed tome for Beetle enthusiasts. Taos was also the hometown of the Dennis Weaver character in the rotating 1970s TV mystery McCloud, a New Mexico marshal improbably transplanted to the concrete canyons of Manhattan. Didn’t resonate with yours truly, whose preferred Dennis Weaver performances include the grossly underrated 1980 antiwar TV movie Amber Waves and of course, his role in Steven Spielburg’s first film, Duel. The Taos will flip Volkswagen from its other SUV rollout this year, the three-row seating Atlas.

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