Behind the Wheel of the All-New Subcompact Volkswagen Taos

The Volkswagen Taos is all-new for 2022.

2022 Volkswagen Taos
The all-new 2022 Volkswagen Taos subcompact crossover.

Volkswagen arrived late to the utility vehicle game, entering the market in 2009 with the Tiguan. Since then, the automaker has introduced four more models, including the all-electric ID.4. For 2022, Volkswagen has come full circle, introducing the all-new Taos, a subcompact model. The Taos is roughly the size of the original Tiguan, which now occupies the compact range.

The 2022 Volkswagen Taos comes in S ($22,295 (FWD)/$25,040 (AWD)), SE ($27,245/$28,695), and SEL ($31,490/$33,045) trims. Add $1,195 for the destination charge. This model seats five.

2022 Volkswagen Taos profile.

Volkswagen Taos Styling

The Taos, named for a historic Native American community in New Mexico, aligns with the entire VW utility vehicle design philosophy. It shares design cues with the larger Volkswagen models, but with a more minimalist expression. Elegant lighting elements, distinctive character lines, basic body sculpting, and a hatchback-like rear are features of note. No, it won’t win a design contest, but the Taos is practical.

Inside, the cabin continues with the minimalist approach. The center console is clean and well organized. Buttons, dials, and switches control the display screen and HVAC. Depending on the model, there is more soft-touch materials than plastics, although the brightwork touches and piano black trim are attractive touches. Cloth seats are standard, but the available synthetic leather feels better and is breathable. Move up to the top trim and real hides come in.

All trims come with full power accessories. Heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, heated side mirrors, and heated windshield washer nozzles are available. Dual-zone climate control is exclusive to the SEL.

2022  Volkswagen Taos front seats
2022  Volkswagen Taos rear seats

Four Seats or Five

On paper, the Taos sits five, but that is a stretch. Three children on the back seat or two adults is the ideal. The problem isn’t the legroom, which is sizable for the class. Instead, it is the usual hip room that makes things a bit cozy for all. The front seats are comfortable for the average-sized adult, but anyone approaching six-feet may find it a bit short on thigh support. Nevertheless, the side and back support is admirable.

The Taos’ storage capacity is quite decent, measuring upwards of 27.9 cubic feet behind the second row. Fold down the rear seat and the Taos frees up to 65.9 cubic feet. That’s enough space to hold camping and sporting gear for two.

Safety & Tech

Some of the driver-assist safety features that should be standard are extra in the Taos. For instance, automatic emergency braking is nearly universally offered by manufacturers today. But with the Taos, it is bundled within a $995 spend-up package. That grouping includes active lane control, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic high beams. Move up through the trim range and the options become standard. Rear parking sensors and an automatic dimming rearview mirror are included with the SEL model. Adaptive cruise control and rear parking sensors are available.

2022 Volkswagen Taos dashboard.

On the tech front, the base Taos comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display and an 8-inch digital cockpit display. Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hotspot, two USB ports, and four speakers are standard. Among the upgrades are an 8-inch touch-screen display, navigation, an additional USB port, satellite radio, and wireless charging. No models offer a head-up display, which is unusual in this class.

On the Road

Every VW Taos is fitted with a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. This motor generates 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Power travels to the front wheels utilizing an 8-speed automatic transmission or to all four wheels with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Though small, the engine is ideal for this model thanks to the boosted technology. We found the Taos delivers ample step-off acceleration and decent passing power. You will notice some differences between the transmissions and how they feed power to the wheels. For instance, the dual-clutch transmission supplies more kick in the lower gears. Also, the all-wheel-drive models come with a multi-link rear suspension, which is an upgrade over the torsen beam suspension in front-wheel drive. The result is a more composed driving experience with improved steering, especially when based on the drive mode. We found the brakes firm and the riding experience above average for a small vehicle. Body roll is detected with every twist and turn, but that’s common for nearly all high-profile vehicles. Importantly, the amount was small for this model.

2022 Volkswagen Taos rear.

Our Recommendation

The Taos occupies the entry-level SUV segment and goes up against such formidable competitors as the all-new Toyota Corolla Cross, Honda HR-V, and the Subaru Crosstrek. Its peppy engine is an advantage, but we think that having to pay extra for certain safety equipment detracts from this offering.

Choosing the mid-level SE makes sense as this trim brings in improved upholstery, heated front seats, a better audio package, more safety gear, and wireless phone charging. A panoramic sunroof ($1,200) may be worth the splurge, putting your cost close to $30,000 without all-wheel drive. All in all, the Taos finds it place in Volkswagen’s utility vehicle range. It gets the job done, but some of its competitors do it cheaper.

See AlsoEnd of the Road for the Volkswagen Beetle

Photos copyright Stumpwater Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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