Volkswagen is on a roll lately, launching new SUVs focused on the needs of American drivers. It started with the Atlas a few years back, a 7-seater SUV designed specifically for the U.S. market. It, along with the Atlas Cross Sport, have both met with success (VW’s sold 69,897 combined this year through the 2nd quarter) and I suspect its latest offering, the new subcompact 2022 Taos, will do the same. The Taos slots beneath the Tiguan in size and the top-of-the-line SEL trim is packed with tech goodies, most notably VW’s all-digital cockpit. My model is forward-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available.
The Taos’ clean exterior looks modern without being edgy or polarizing. Its most attention-grabbing feature just might be my model’s bright Cornflower Blue hue. The SEL rides on blacked-out 18-inch alloy wheels. The SEL’s three-bar grille stretches across the front and features an illuminated light bar like you see on the ID.4 EV CarProUSA radio show host Jerry Reynolds recently reviewed.
LED headlights, daytime running lights and taillights are standard across all trims. The SEL adds projector headlights and adaptive front lighting. Other exterior SEL features include heated, foldable and power adjustable side mirrors. In back, you find VW's badging along with Taos lettering, a black molded bumper, silver detailing and on top, the SEL features silver roof rails.
The Taos’ cabin is roomy, well-designed and user friendly. There’s a bit too much plastic on the large top dash area for my taste at this price point. My SEL trim features an available two-tone natural gray and black interior with grey contrast stitching. The first- and outbound 2nd-row seats are leather. The front bolstered seats are comfortable, if a bit firm, with nice cushion length. The 10-way power driver’s side seat offers power lumbar support, the passenger’s side adjusts manually. The SEL’s heated, leatherette-wrapped steering wheel is also on the firm side.
Large knobs control dual-zone climate on the center stack. Below on the console you find push-button start, a gear shift knob with Sport mode and controls for the electric parking brake and to turn off the automatic start/stop. I was thankful for the available wireless charging.
The Taos seats five and provides mostly generous head- and leg-room. Three adults could be a bit of a squeeze in the second row and there’s a high hump in the middle floorboard. Backseat passengers get front seatback pockets, A/C vents, a USB-C Port as well as a center drop-down armrest. A passthrough opens to a carpeted trunk area with generous cargo room (27.9 cubic-feet.) The liftgate is on the heavy side, requiring some muscle to close it with help from an interior grab handle.
The SEL’s eight-speaker BeatsAudio premium sound system with a subwoofer and digital signal processing is an interior highlight for me. It really sounds terrific in the cabin space. The SEL features 10-color ambient lighting, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers and heated seats. (If ventilated seats are on your wish list, you’ll need to go for the AWD model.)
The Taos lineup is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed automatic that delivers 158-horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. Automatic stop start can be disabled and the Taos SEL comes with remote engine start. It’s an efficient powertrain, too, delivering 31 mpg on the highway.
Ride and Drive
The Taos FWD proves itself an easy to maneuver, compact SUV with a nice, pleasant, smooth ride and one with a hint of truck-like suspension that handles potholes well. (Note: The FWD version features a torsion beam rear suspension, while AWD models come with a multi-link rear setup). Upon starting from a dead stop, I felt I had to push down on the pedal more than I typically do to get it moving. However, once rolling the acceleration was fine. The cabin provides a quiet ride and visibility is great with a high vantage point of the road.
The standout tech feature in the Taos SEL is a 10.25-inch digital cockpit which can display full-screen navigation, road sign info and various other data. 2022 Taos SEL’s are equipped with VW’s latest MIB3 multimedia system that offers wireless app connect for compatible devices along with SiriusXM with 360L. The system comes with three USB-C ports.
The SEL’s 8-inch Discover Media touchscreen with navigation provides nice graphics and is very responsive with swiping capability. The backup camera’s resolution was ok but not the sharpest out there. Both the digital display and multimedia system look great at night.
The Taos SEL is loaded with driver assist tech. It comes standard with VW’s IQ.Drive advanced driver assistance suite, and I was impressed with the Travel Assist Semi-Autonomous driving feature that utilizes Adaptive Cruise Control Stop and Go and Lane Assist. The system monitors the capacitive steering wheel to make sure your hands are on the wheel, and if not, it’ll warn you to place them there. Other IQ.Drive features include Front Assist, Active Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert. Park Distance Control and Dynamic Road Sign Display as well as Light Assist are also standard SEL features.
What You’ll Pay
The range-topping SEL trim starts from $31,490. Add on my test model’s optional $1,200 power panoramic sunroof and you come to just shy of $34K.
There are many entries in the subcompact SUV segment, making it a competitive one. The Taos isn’t a segment disrupter, but its attributes certainly make it a worthy subcompact SUV to add to your shopping list. While I’d like to see a bit less plastic in the Taos’ top trim, the impressive driver assistance system and other tech along with the BeatsAudio system make up for it.
- What I Liked Most: Spaciousness. VW’s Digital Cockpit. BeatsAudio. Travel Assist.
- What I would change: Less plastic on the dash. Add a power close interior liftgate button instead of a grab handle
- Fuel Economy: 28 city/36 highway/31 combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 1,251 miles.
- Weight: 3,175 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Temporary Spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 175.8” long/72.5” wide/64.4” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gallons with filler on the passenger’s side.
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- Official Color: Cornflower Blue.
- 2022 VW Taos SEL in a few words: A subcompact SUV with great technology and ride and drive quality.
- Warranty: 4-year, 50,000 New Vehicle Limited Warranty; 7-years, 100,000 Limited Warranty against Corrosion.
- Final Assembly Location: While not listed on Monroney, Puebla, Mexico.
- Manufacturer's website: Volkswagen