My how time flies. I can hardly believe it's been more than a year since I first checked out the new 2022 Volkswagen Taos. This week I'm back behind of the wheel of VW's smallest SUV - one that's since its debut has proven itself popular for the brand. As of Q2 2022, it was the second best-selling vehicle in VW's U.S. lineup, behind only the Tiguan, with the Jetta in third. I reviewed the range-topping SEL trim last year. This time, the SE model is up.
My test model wears a great Dusk Blue Metallic hue that contrasts well with 18-inch machined alloy wheels. The Taos sports a bold front end design that features LED reflector headlights and daytime running lights. The SE is also equipped with power-folding heated body-colored side mirrors on its profile.
I think VW's done a great job badging its vehicles both on the front fender and new lettering that spans the tailgate. On the tail end, you find LED tail lights, a black molded bumper and on top, the SE wears silver roof rails.
The Taos is powered by the same 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder engine as you find in the Jetta lineup. It delivers 158-horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. (158-hp happens to be the same horsepower in the new 2023 Honda HR-V I just reviewed.) Acceleration is ok for this compact SUV's size but the issue for me is, as with the Jetta, I can't say I was a huge fan of the 8-speed automatic transmission and a punchy, "jolting" throttle response upon initial acceleration.
Since this model is FWD (front-wheel drive), you won't get the drive modes with the available AWD. Automatic stop/start is more noticeable than some, but can be disabled. I'm happy to see the remote engine start feature, a great feature for the price point. Fuel economy is 31 mpg combined.
The Taos’ roomy cabin is user-friendly, but the SE has quite a bit of plastic including the dash and most of the door panels. There is minimal use of glossy black, save for around the infotainment screen and on the gear shift knob.
My model's Black CloudTex and cloth interior is comfortable. The front slightly bolstered seats are on the smaller, narrow side as you'd expect in a compact SUV. A leatherette-trimmed steering wheel with large stitching hosts multi-function controls.
A 10-way power driver’s seat (including power lumbar) is another great feature to see for a mid-range model. The passenger’s side adjusts manually. Both seats are heated.
The Taos' center stack is pretty traditional and devoid of much tech. Large manual knobs control the climate. I will say it was exciting to see a control for heated front seats on the mid-trim model. The same goes for wireless charging.
There's not much going on in the center console area, beyond the push-button start, parking brake and automatic start/stop control. Geometric shaped cup holders are on the smaller side.
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 seat back pockets, A/C vents, a USB-C Port as well as a center drop-down armrest with cupholders.
The 2nd row gets tinted privacy glass as does the cargo area windows. You'll get some ambient lightning, but not the SEL's 10-color ambient system.
A passthrough from the 60/40 split-folding rear seat opens to a carpeted trunk area with generous cargo room. The lift gate is on the heavy side, requiring some muscle to close it using an interior grab handle. The FWD model enjoys more cargo space (+3") than the all-wheel drive variant.
Ride and Drive
The Taos is an easy to maneuver, compact SUV with a pleasant, smooth ride and one with a hint of truck-like suspension that handles potholes well. My complaint is with its jumpy throttle. The cabin provides a fairly quiet ride and visibility is great with a high vantage point of the road.
The Taos feels light on its feet so I wondered how it would preform in inclement weather especially in its FWD form. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it handled super wet roadways. The tires gripped the road well and I always felt in control in slippery conditions.
The SE is equipped with VW's 8-inch non-configurable Digital Cockpit (as opposed to the SEL's 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro.)
An 8-inch Discover Media touchscreen provides nice graphics and is very responsive with swiping capability. It runs VW's latest MIB3 multimedia system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM with 360L along with enhanced voice recognition and three USB-C ports. But the SE misses out on integrated navigation. The backup camera’s resolution also isn't the sharpest out there.
The SE also misses out on the SEL's eight-speaker BeatsAudio premium sound system, but I have to say the standard 6-speaker system sounds pretty good.
The SE model is equipped with a nice list of advanced driver's assist features: Front Assist (Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking w/Pedestrian Monitoring), Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Traffic Alert, Cruise Control, Hill Hold Control and Rear View Camera.
I'm not a huge fan of VW's cruise control which I don't find that intuitive. You'll have to step up to the SEL for VW's IQ.Drive Advanced Driver Assistance suite, or add it as an option. (Note: For 2023, IQ.Drive becomes standard on the SE.)
What You’ll Pay
My test model, with zero options, runs $29,190. For roughly $4-$5K more you can bump up to the 2022 SEL model and get the premium audio system, navigation, adaptive front headlights, dual-zone climate, an illuminated front light bar and IQ.DRIVE.
The Taos SE surprises with a few convenience features for the price point but my vote is for the range topping SEL.
- What I Liked Most: Roomy interior, abundant cargo space, remote engine start.
- MSRP: Base price $27,895; As equipped $29,190.
- What I would change: Smooth out the punchy throttle response.
- Fuel Economy: 28 city/ 36 highway/31 combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: Unknown.
- 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: Dusk Blue Metallic.
- 2022 VW Taos 1.5T SE FWD in a few words: A stylish, well-designed compact SUV that's a great addition to the segment.
- Warranty: 4-year, 50,000 New Vehicle Limited Warranty; 7-years, 100,000 Limited Warranty against Corrosion.
- Final Assembly Location: Puebla, Mexico.
- Manufacturer's website: Volkswagen