2022 Volkswagen Taos Review: Maximizing Your Inner Space

VW’s new Taos is an affordable, technologically advanced crossover SUV.

Review QuickTakes:

Sitting at the bottom of Volkswagen’s SUV lineup beneath the popular Tiguan, the 2022 Taos is a new model equipped with a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), plus a roomier and higher-tech interior than most other small SUVs.

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What’s New for the 2022 Volkswagen Taos?

By adding the 2022 Volkswagen Taos to its lineup, VW now sells four different SUVs. The Taos is the smallest and most affordable member of the family, but offers more interior space than most other vehicles in its market segment.

That should make the 2022 Taos appealing to buyers on a budget who seek plenty of room for four adults combined with the functionality that 27.9 cu.- ft. of cargo room behind the back seat can provide (24.9 cu.-ft. with the 4Motion AWD system). However, you’ll give up some off-roading capability because the Taos offers no more than 6.6 inches of ground clearance. That’s 2.1 inches less than what you’d get with a Subaru Crosstrek.

2022 Volkswagen Taos Price and Configurations

Volkswagen Taos prices range from the mid $20,000s to the mid $30,000s. Three trim levels are available, and you’ll find the highlights of each Taos model listed below.

Volkswagen Taos S — Starting around $24,000, the Taos S comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, push-button start, and air conditioning. Occupants sit on cloth seats, and the driver benefits from a manual height adjuster. A digital instrument cluster, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration also come standard on the base Taos.

Volkswagen Taos SE — Choose the Taos SE for 18-inch alloy wheels, heated windshield washer jets, heated side mirrors, remote keyless entry, and remote engine starting. Upgraded materials improve the interior, along with simulated leather upholstery, an 8-way, power-adjustable driver’s seat, and heated front seats, all for about $29,000 to start.

An 8-inch, proximity-sensing touchscreen infotainment system is also standard with SE trim and brings satellite radio and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Safety features include forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Volkswagen Taos SEL — Black wheels are standard for the Taos SEL, along with rain-sensing windshield wipers, special grille illumination, parking sensors, and a set of adaptive headlights with automatic high-beam operation that swivel to help illuminate around curves and corners. The SEL also has ambient interior lighting, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, leather seats, a heated steering wheel, a larger digital instrumentation panel, a navigation system, and a premium sound system. You get all that starting around $33,000.

Volkswagen’s Travel Assist, Emergency Assist, and Lane Assist technologies are also standard with SEL trim. Lane Assist includes lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. Travel Assist builds on this with lane-centering assist and adaptive cruise control. Finally, Emergency Assist can detect when a driver is not holding the steering wheel and can bring the Taos to a safe stop with the hazard lights flashing. All three systems are part of Volkswagen’s IQ.Drive collection of driver-assist and collision avoidance technologies.

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2022 Volkswagen Taos Review and Test Drive

Designed for the North American market and built in Mexico, Volkswagen named the 2022 Taos after Taos, New Mexico. According to the automaker, the Southwestern U.S. locale will not only resonate with buyers, but also embodies what the vehicle represents: “a small city that offers big things.” Essentially, Taos, both New Mexico’s city and Volkswagen’s crossover, deliver big adventure in a small space.

Although positioned under the Tiguan in VW’s SUV lineup, the Taos hardly feels like the runt of the litter. Instead, the vehicle slides closer to the larger end of the subcompact scale. As an entry-level crossover utility vehicle (CUV), the Taos offers an appealing price point, yet doesn’t skimp on packaging, performance, or practicality.

For this review, I evaluated a top-of-the-line, 2022 Taos SEL with 4Motion AWD in the middle of a Michigan winter. All Taos models have a standard 1.5L, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. However, FWD models pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission, while AWD models use a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Additional options on our test vehicle included King’s Red Metallic paint for $395 and a panoramic power sunroof for $1,200. Volkswagen provided the test vehicle.

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2022 Volkswagen Taos Review: The Design

The Taos follows Volkswagen’s sleek-slab exterior styling approach to a T. It’s neither overly rugged with heavy body cladding nor overly stylized with character lines brushed on by a zealous zephyr. Instead, the Taos is pleasantly…plain. Although the small CUV can be easy to miss in a parking lot, at the same time, it’s hard to ignore when you do notice. Like the Mona Lisa, the Volkswagen Taos is almost awkwardly alluring. And it gives off a distinct VW Atlas vibe.

For the base S trim, 17-inch alloy wheels are standard. The SE models come with an 18-inch alloy wheel with a machined or black finish. Those black, 18-inch wheels are standard on the SEL with FWD, while SEL AWD models receive an exclusive 19-inch wheel design. Across the lineup, standard LED headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights complete the vehicle’s bold look and presence.

The Taos’ interior displays a balanced mix of analog and digital controls. The instrument panel and infotainment screens offer high-definition displays, while buttons and knobs provide redundancies and quick access to frequent touchpoints like the climate control system and audio volume. The steering wheel-mounted buttons are intuitive and easy to use from the get-go, but the overall wheel comfort is lacking. Although wrapped in simulated leather, the steering wheel itself felt rock-hard when gripped, like budget polyurethane.

In terms of comfort amenities, when equipped, the entire steering wheel warms up quickly on a winter day, as do the seats. When set to the medium heating level (second of three), I could feel the heat coming through my parka. Heated and ventilated seats are available* only for front occupants, though. The optional panoramic sunroof was a worthwhile add-on during a gray Michigan winter. No matter how minimal, daylight was always welcomed in the cabin during my time with the Taos. At night, ambient lighting takes over, and there are plenty of color choices to match your mood.

2022 Volkswagen TaosBeverly Braga

Now, the Taos is supposed to be a subcompact vehicle, but its proportions put it near the bottom of the compact SUV class. The comfortably spacious interior measures a non-claustrophobic 99.5 cu.-ft. of total passenger space. Even your tall friends will have plenty of knee room in the backseat.

My Taos SEL test vehicle also had a two-tone, French Roast and black leather interior. The contrasting colors in the seats, dashboard, and door panels give Volkswagen’s starter SUV a premium look — until you sit in the second row. It is spacious back there, yes, but also dark and dreary. The French Roast coloring is limited to the seat inserts, but I found not a single drop on the rear door panels, making for a less appealing all-black, all-plastic ambiance. Cheap plastics used for the window switches are also disappointing, given how VW presents the rest of the cabin.

The Taos offers a no-fuss interior layout and excellent room for passengers. It also provides more cargo space than many of its subcompact rivals. Fold the rear seats down, and the cargo area expands to a generous 60.2 cu.-ft. for AWD models and 65.9 cu.-ft. with FWD.

Unfortunately, with the rear seats up I discovered that a large check-in suitcase would not fit while laying flat and lengthwise. To accommodate a Taos full of occupants and their gear, compromises will be necessary regarding luggage size. Even then, you’ll need to apply your Tetris mastery to fit everything and everyone into this CUV. But that’s true of any of the Taos’ competitors, too.

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2022 Volkswagen Taos Review: The Technology

All 2022 Volkswagen Taos models include a touchscreen infotainment system. The Taos S comes standard with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display and an older MIB2 operating system, plus Bluetooth and two USB-C ports. The automaker is doing away with USB-A ports, but there is a 12-volt DC outlet within the center console for adapters.

Choose the SE and SEL models for the larger 8-inch touchscreen and VW’s next-generation MIB3 infotainment platform. This system also adds wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless charging, and a USB-C port in the rear. The Taos SEL also comes with a navigation system. In addition, a Wi-Fi hotspot and over-the-air traffic updates are available for an additional cost.

The MIB3’s capacitive-touch-sensing screen makes the infotainment system immediately intuitive to smartphone users. The main menu also features large icons that are easily legible while driving. With no haptic feedback, however, when using the touchscreen while the vehicle is in motion, depending on what information page you’re in, you may find yourself tapping the same icon (or its general area) several times before activating it.

App-Connect makes integration seamless for Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and MirrorLink devices. Gesture control is also available,* but is cumbersome and gimmicky in execution.

Every Taos includes a standard Volkswagen Digital Cockpit instrument panel. An 8-inch display is standard, offering two views and customizable widgets. The SEL trim upgrades to the 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro, which features three views and is fully configurable with 21 viewing choices ranging from driving data and media to navigation and driver assistance features.

2022 Volkswagen TaosBeverly Braga

Speaking of which, the 2022 Volkswagen Taos offers a long list of safety features, but unfortunately, they’re not standard. IQ.Drive, Volkswagen’s suite of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), is standard only for Taos SEL trims. Luckily, buyers of the S and SE models who have some extra cash to spend can add the same features to these lower-priced examples of the SUV.

With S trim, the IQ.Drive and S Convenience package combo includes adaptive cruise control (ACC) with stop-and-go capability, blind-spot monitoring (BSM), rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA), automatic high-beam headlights, and rain-sensing wipers. Additionally, IQ.Drive adds Front Assist (forward-collision warning, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking), Lane Assist, Travel Assist, and Emergency Assist.

Move up to the Taos SE and Front Assist, BSM, and RCTA are standard equipment. Want more? The IQ.Drive/SE Convenience package adds ACC, Travel Assist, Lane Assist, Emergency Assist, auto high-beam headlights, and rain-sensing wipers. Of course, our loaded Taos SEL tester had all of the above, coming in around $36,000.

At time of publication, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had not performed crash tests on the 2022 Volkswagen Taos. Likewise, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) had yet to finish its testing of the SUV.

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2022 Volkswagen Taos Review: The Drive

Every Volkswagen Taos has a 1.5L, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine producing 158 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s more than enough oomph to move the SUV along. There is ever-so-slight turbo lag, and the touchy throttle takes some getting used to, but in terms of power, the Taos performs well.

Highway passing is without issue, and, coupled with the 4Motion AWD system, driving on the pockmarked roads of salt-crusted southeast Michigan in January was relatively comfortable. I didn’t notice any slippage when the snow-covered streets gave way to ice-laden ones. When equipped with AWD, the Taos has a seven-speed DCT, which offers smoother shifts compared with other DCTs available in the market. The 4Motion system handled great even when I purposely tried to get it off balance. The vehicle wore Pirelli Scorpion Zero all-season tires, which were fine for traversing light snow and slush.

2022 Volkswagen TaosBeverly Braga

Our test Taos also came with 4Motion Active Control customizable drive modes for both on- and off-road travel. Onroad is the default mode, and within it, you can choose additional options, including Normal, Sport, Eco, and Individual. The individual mode allows you to apply elements of the previous three selections to tailor the powertrain and other system behavior to personal preferences.

Additionally, drivers can switch to Snow, Offroad, and Custom Offroad. These settings make specific adjustments that are best suited to the driving environment. For example, Snow will focus on minimizing wheelspin amid slippery conditions, while Offroad will automatically activate Hill Descent Control.

When traveling through the city, the Volkswagen Taos has a quiet ride. However, I did notice some wind noise when driving on the freeway. It’s nothing to be concerned about, especially for an entry-level, subcompact crossover. After all, these types of vehicles simply will not exhibit the same low noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) levels of a luxury model.

Running on regular-octane gasoline, the Volkswagen Taos SEL 4Motion has EPA fuel economy ratings of 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 28 mpg combined. During our evaluation, the vehicle returned a combined average of 25.7 mpg in mostly city driving during a stint of sub-freezing temperatures. In fact, it was so cold that at one point, the washer fluid line froze. That was surprising and concerning, particularly for a brand-new vehicle.

Interestingly, my own nine-year-old hatchback cranked up and spewed washer fluid just fine in the same temperatures.

2022 Volkswagen TaosBeverly Braga

Is the 2022 Volkswagen Taos a Good SUV?

Compared with most other small SUVs, Volkswagen charges a premium for the 2022 Taos. But in exchange for the added cost, the Taos delivers next-level amounts of interior room and cargo space, attractive design, premium amenities, future-proof technology, and affordable safety extras. VW also includes its Carefree Coverage plan with every new Taos, though it isn’t class-leading concerning ownership perks (see: Hyundai).

Quibbles aside, which are all minor and highly subjective, the Volkswagen Taos would be a great fit for households looking to downsize from a larger SUV or upgrade from a smaller car. Just try not to overpack for trips, and keep in mind that a Taos is best used on the road and not off it.

Volkswagen Taos Competitors for 2022

Though larger and a little more expensive than most of its rivals, the VW Taos competes against subcompact SUVs. They include the Buick Encore GX, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Ford Bronco Sport, Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V, Jeep Compass, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, Nissan Rogue Sport, Subaru Crosstrek, and Toyota Corolla Cross.

2022 Volkswagen TaosBeverly Braga

Volkswagen Taos Features

Highlights

The Volkswagen Taos is the sort of vehicle you can buy today and grow into tomorrow. Roomy seating, a large cargo area for the class, and modern technology are Taos hallmarks, but the CUV also offers decent performance and a lively driving character.

2022 Volkswagen Taos Safety Features

  • Front Assist — Available* forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking
  • Lane Assist — Available* lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
  • Travel Assist — Available* adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assist
  • Emergency Assist — Available* automatic emergency stopping system
  • Blind Spot Monitor — Available* feature warns the driver when other vehicles are in the Taos’ blind spots. Includes rear cross-traffic alert

2022 Volkswagen Taos Technology

  • Volkswagen Digital Cockpit — Standard feature with available* size and content upgrade
  • Infotainment system — Standard 6.5-inch and available* 8-inch touchscreen display
  • Smartphone integration — Standard wired, and available* wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Wireless charging pad — Available* feature
  • Car-Net — Available* connected services technology, including remote engine starting and Wi-Fi access

2022 Volkswagen Taos Specs

  • 1.5L, turbocharged four-cylinder, 158 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission (FWD)
  • Seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission (AWD)
  • Independent rear suspension with AWD models
  • 31 mpg in combined driving (FWD); 28 mpg (AWD)

2022 Volkswagen TaosBeverly Braga

2022 Volkswagen Taos Interior

  • Leather seats — Available* in simulated or genuine material
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control — Available* feature
  • Heated front seats and steering wheel — Available* features
  • Panoramic sunroof — Available* feature
  • Premium sound system — Available* BeatsAudio

*Availability is subject to specific trim level selections

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Christian Wardlaw
My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.
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Beverly Braga
Beverly Braga is a freelance writer and consultant with nearly 20 years of experience as a storyteller and communications professional. Her work has appeared in numerous print and digital outlets covering the automotive, entertainment, lifestyle, as well as food and beverage industries.