The compact SUV segment keeps getting hotter, and Volkswagen enters the fray in June with the all-new 2022 VW Taos. The Taos, an all-new 5-seat compact crossover SUV, is 9.3 inches shorter than the 3-row Tiguan. As such, it will compete in a segment already crowded with the likes of the Jeep Compass, Nissan Rogue Sport, Kia Seltos, Hyundai Tucson, and Subaru Crosstrek.
Whether you consider it a larger subcompact SUV or a smaller compact SUV, the new 2022 Volkswagen Taos has a lot going for it. The VW Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport design language is very present, and the styling comes across as handsome in an understated sort of way.
The Volkswagen Taos is an all-new vehicle, a compact 5-seat crossover SUV. It arrives in June as a 2022 model, powered by a new 1.5-liter engine with 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque at only 1,750 rpm.
If you order a Taos with front-wheel drive (FWD), it comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission and a torsion-beam rear axle. If you order it with 4Motion all-wheel drive (AWD), which has an electro-hydraulic center coupling, your Taos will have a multilink rear axle and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
What We Like
- Designed and engineered for the U.S.
- Turbocharged engine has excellent torque
- It’s efficient, too
- Digital gauges (VW Digital Cockpit)
What We Don’t
- Shape is too familiar?
- Safety suite not standard on base model
- AWD models have slightly less cargo room
Volkswagen’s new turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine makes 158 horsepower. That’s 11 hp more than the turbo 1.4-liter engine in the current Jetta, with 184 lb-ft of torque on tap at a lowly 1,750 rpm. Also positive: The efficient aluminum-block engine doesn’t require premium-grade gasoline.
Front-wheel-drive (FWD) Taos models with the conventional 8-speed automatic transmission are rated by the EPA at 28 miles per gallon city, 36 mpg highway, 31 mpg combined. When equipped with 4Motion AWD and the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the 2022 VW Taos isn’t quite as good, returning 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 28 mpg combined.
The FWD Volkswagen Taos, it should be noted, has a 13.2-gallon fuel tank. The tank in the 4Motion Taos is 14.5 gallons, so both versions have a max range in excess of 450 miles.
Standard Features & Options
The base model, the Volkswagen Taos S ($22,995 FWD, $25,040 AWD), gets 17-inch alloy wheels, cloth interior fabric, non-configurable digital gauges, and Volkswagen’s standard 6.5-in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also standard on the Taos S are black roof rails and side mirrors, a manual driver’s seat, a split 60/40 folding rear seat, and a pair of USB-C ports in the front. If you get a Taos S with 4Motion AWD, it comes with an all-weather package that includes heated front seats, side mirrors, and washer nozzles.
In Taos SE form ($27,245 FWD, $28,695 AWD), this compact VW SUV is much better equipped. The SE comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, silver roof rails, and body-color side mirrors, plus the larger 8.0-inch infotainment screen and wireless App-Connect. Other standard hardware on the SE includes CloudTex leatherette upholstery, an 8-way power driver’s seat, a 6-speaker audio system, and important safety items such as a collision-avoidance system (with automatic emergency braking), blind-spot monitoring, and a rear cross-traffic alert.
The Taos SEL ($31,490 FWD, $33,045 AWD) ups the luxury quotient with leather upholstery, projector LED headlights, navigation, an illuminated grille, and an 8-speaker BeatsAudio sound system. This Taos also gets the larger (and configurable) 10.25-inch digital instrument panel, plus dual-zone automatic climate control, a heated leatherette-covered steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist.
The Taos S is available with an IQ.Drive option package ($995) that includes a collision-avoidance system (with automatic emergency braking), adaptive cruise control, a rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keep assist. A convenience package also available on the Taos S includes automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and a heated leatherette-covered steering wheel.
A similar IQ.Drive option package ($895) can be ordered on the Taos SE, but it’s a bit less expensive because the SE already has a collision-avoidance system, blind-spot monitoring, and a rear cross-traffic alert. Other SE options include the aforementioned convenience package, black 18-inch alloy wheels, and a panoramic sunroof.
That sunroof ($1,200), by the way, is the only option on the Taos SEL.
All Taos models come with six standard airbags. The Taos S and Taos SE are available with VW’s extensive IQ.Drive Safety Suite, which is standard on the SEL. In addition to a forward-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, IQ.Drive includes blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.
Emergency Assist also is standard on the SEL and included in the optional IQ.Drive safety suite of the other Taos models. It will slow the Taos to a safe stop if it senses that the driver has become unresponsive or possibly unconscious.
Similarly, a lane-keeping assist program is available on the Taos. Available on the S and SE but standard on the Taos SEL, this system works at speeds above 40 mph. If it senses that the Taos is drifting out of its lane, it will actively apply steering to correct the situation.
All 2022 Volkswagen Taos models also come with automatic post-collision braking. If the Taos has been in a large impact, the brakes will be applied automatically to prevent the VW from rolling into another potentially more dangerous secondary collision.
Behind the Wheel
Even though VW’s new turbocharged 1.5-liter seems like a small engine, it provides the new Taos with energetic acceleration. With the 8-speed automatic transmission we sampled, the shifts were smooth and well-timed, and the power delivery ramped up quickly and consistently. With the FWD model, it’s easy to spin the inside front tire when leaving a traffic light and turning right.
The Taos with 4Motion AWD leaves the line with more composure because all four wheels are propelling the vehicle. However, we found that we don’t like the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox as much as we do the standard 8-speed automatic in the FWD model. The dual-clutch gearbox often seems hesitant to pick a gear when you want to accelerate out of a corner. Sport mode helps with the response times, but we had no such gripes with the conventional (and very refined) 8-speed automatic in the FWD Taos.
On a positive note, the long wheelbase of the Taos translates to a composed and comfortable ride, not bumpy. Overall, the Taos driving experience feels like that of a much more expensive automobile, and VW’s 4Motion AWD would be a smart choice for any area with inclement weather. As much as 50 percent of the power can be sent to the rear wheels as needed.
The Taos interior is nicely styled and roomy, with enough headroom and legroom in both rows to please anybody under, say, about 6-foot-4. Some of the plastics look a little cheap, but the utility of this compact VW SUV is high, thanks to 28.1 cubic feet of storage behind the rear bench (which expands to 66.3 cu ft when that seat is folded). Note: The 4Motion Taos, equipped with a rear differential and a multilink rear suspension (in place of the FWD model’s twist-beam rear axle), has slightly less cargo room — 24.9 and 60.2 cu ft, respectively.