Subcompact SUVs provide a hunger for space, affordability, and a sense of belonging—as almost everyone drives an SUV these days. Among the other 20 competitors, the Volkswagen Taos satisfies the recent consumer desire for economical fuel economy. Available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, each Taos hums along with exemplary real-world fuel mileage thanks to its stingy 158-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The Taos don’t offer any drag to tow, so we’d suggest moving to the larger Tiguan SUV for that, but there’s plenty of cargo space inside, even with the rear seats used, to handle grocery tasks with ease. It’s a tight battle between the best in the class, so the Tiguan’s low starting price and spacious cockpit make it a tantalizing choice among others like the Kia Seltos and Chevrolet Trailblazer. Beating its EPA estimate of 4 mpg, the all-wheel-drive Taos SEL we tested managed to hit an astonishing 40 mpg during our 200-mile 75-mph highway fuel economy test round. A large amount of interior plastic helps keep the Taos price low while making the more luxurious cabin of the Mazda CX-30 feel like a mini luxury condo compared to a VW.
What’s New in 2023?
VW’s smallest crossover hasn’t seen much of a change for 2023, but it does receive some equipment upgrades. Volkswagen added driver assistance features such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitor and rear traffic warning as standard equipment across all trims. The Base S gets 18-inch wheels instead of 17 inches, on the all-wheel-drive model. Lastly, the SEL now gets a luxurious panoramic sunroof as standard equipment.
Price and Where to Buy
We recommend the mid-level SE model because it provides the best value. It comes standard with 18-inch wheels, blind-spot monitoring, heated front seats, remote start and wireless charging. We’ll be adding all-wheel drive for an additional $1450, mostly because it replaces the front-drive model’s rear suspension with a more sophisticated independent unit. We’ll also opt for the IQ.Drive and SE Convenience packages which add adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights, heated steering wheel, lane guard assist and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Engine, Transmission and Performance
The Taos is powered by VW’s new turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. That makes 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The front-drive version has an eight-speed automatic transmission, and the all-wheel-drive model has a seven-speed automatic clutch. The front-drive and all-wheel-drive Taos also have different rear suspensions, with the former employing a torsion-beam arrangement and the latter sporting a more sophisticated multilink design. A set of 17-inch wheels is standard, but 18 and 19-inch wheels are also available. We appreciate the engine’s thrust at low speeds, the unobtrusive operation of the eight-speed automatic, and the quietness of the suspension on level roads. during our time with one.
Real World Fuel Economy and MPG
The front-drive Taos are rated at 28 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, and the all-wheel-drive model is rated at 25 mpg city and 32 highway. We tested the front-drive Taos on our 75 mph highway fuel-efficient route, and it delivered an impressive 40 mpg, beating its EPA estimates. For more information on Taos fuel economy, visit EPA website.
Interior, Comfort and Cargo
Inside, there is nothing too special about Tao. The design and materials mimic the modern aesthetic found on other VW models. A fully digital gauge cluster is mounted on each dashboard and the standard two-tone seats are upholstered. However, faux leather and leather upholstery are also available. There’s no shortage of popular choices either. The Taos cabin can be equipped with adjustable ambient lighting, an eight-way electric driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, and a panoramic sunroof. The Taos offers 37.9 inches of rear seat legroom, which is just 0.8 inches smaller than the two-row Tiguan. The Taos also have 28 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat backs and 66 cubes with them folded flat.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Each Taos has a slick-looking infotainment system with a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard, and an 8.0-inch version is optional. The system can also be equipped with built-in navigation, eight-speaker BeatsAudio stereo, SiriusXM satellite radio, and wireless smartphone charging.
Safety Features and Driver Assistance
The smallest VW crossover available with a variety of driver assistance technology, also, includes forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. For more information on the Taos crash test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) website. Key security features include:
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear traffic warning
- Standard forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking
- Standard rear traffic warning
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Volkswagen provides an above-average limited warranty and below-average powertrain coverage. However, the company includes free scheduled maintenance according to Toyota.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Free scheduled maintenance covered for two years or 20,000 miles
2022 Volkswagen Taos SEL
Vehicle Type: front engine, front wheel drive, 5 passengers, 4 door wagon
Base/As Tested: $32,685/$32,685
inline-4 16-valve DOHC turbocharged and intercooled, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 91 inches31498 cm3
Power: 158 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 184 lb-ft @ 1750 rpm
Automatic 8 speed
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 12.3-in/10.7-in ventilated disc
Tires: Bridgestone Turanza LS100
215/50R-18 92J M+S
Wheelbase: 105.9 inches
Length: 175.8 inches
Width: 72.5 inches
Height: 64.4 inches
Passenger Volume: 99 feet3
Cargo Volume: 28 feet3
Curb weight: 3244 lb
CD TEST RESULT
60 mph: 7.4 seconds
1/4-Mile: 15.8 seconds @ 87 mph
100 mph: 21.5 seconds
120 mph: 43.6 seconds
The result above eliminates the 1-ft launch of 0.2 seconds.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 8.4 seconds
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.5 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.1 sec
Top Speed (CD approx.): 125 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 176 feet
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.83 g
CD FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 30 mpg
Driving on the Highway 75-mph: 40 mpg
Highway Range: 520 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 31/25/32 mpg
More Features and Specifications