2022 Volkswagen Taos front driving

Named for a small town in New Mexico, the Taos (pronounced like “house”) is the latest model in Volkswagen’s expanding SUV portfolio. It slots beneath the Tiguan, where it will compete in the growing subcompact SUV class.

Volkswagen refers to the Taos as a compact SUV, but it's actually the same size as the Audi Q3 or Subaru Crosstrek, meaning it’s larger than tiny subcompacts, like the Ford EcoSport and Hyundai Kona, and smaller than the popular compacts, like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

The company pledges that the Taos will have its latest connectivity and infotainment systems, a more powerful version of the engine found in the Jetta sedan, and a comprehensive suite of advanced safety and driver assistance features. It will be offered in three trim levels: S, SE, and SEL.

It will be built in Puebla, Mexico. Pricing should roughly mirror the Jetta’s with most versions landing in the mid $20,000s. Exact pricing will be announced by summer 2021 closer to the on-sale date.

Here is what we know so far.  

What it competes with: Chevrolet Trailblazer, Nissan Rogue Sport, Subaru Crosstrek
What it looks like: Like Volkswagen Tiguan, but shorter.
Powertrains: 158-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 8-speed automatic or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission; front- and all-wheel drive.
Price: $20,000 to $29,000 (estimated)
On sale: Summer 2021

CR’s Take

Just about a decade ago, Volkswagen was the purveyor of just a single SUV in the U.S., the Touareg. The German automaker has been on a tear over the last few years introducing new SUV models designed for the tastes and sensibilities of an American shopper, starting with the Atlas, then second-generation Tiguan, Atlas Cross Sport, and now the Taos.

Tiguan grew with the current generation introduced in 2018, creating room for a model beneath it. The company squeezed its DNA into this smaller package, providing a less-expensive entry into its lineup at a time when buyers are moving away from small hatchbacks and wagons that have long defined the brand.

The Taos sounds like it offers a lot in a small package, and it should have special appeal to buyers, including city dwellers who prize entertainment features, safety tech, and interior volume in an easy-to-park package.  

2022 Volkswagen Taos side

Outside

The Taos looks like a ¾-scale Tiguan. The close family resemblance may make it hard to spot in photos, but in person, the Taos stands out for being 9.3 inches shorter than the Tiguan. The 175.8-inch length puts it between the Nissan Rogue Sport and the Subaru Crosstrek in size. It is based on the MQB architecture that Volkswagen is using to underpin a wide array of models.

The styling draws touches from the Altas Cross Sport, with the LED headlights, and the ID.4 electric SUV with an illuminated line that connects across the grille to the VW logo.

The Taos S comes with 17-inch wheels. Two 18-inch designs and a 19-inch wheel will be offered.

The Taos can be topped with an optional panoramic sunroof.  

2022 Volkswagen Taos interior

Inside

The interior looks like it could be the cabin from any number of Volkswagen models. Screens dominate, especially in an entry-level model. The digital instrument cluster can be reconfigured by the driver; a feature first seen on much pricier vehicles from Audi, Volkswagen’s luxury brand. Mid-level models get an 8-inch center screen for the MIB3 infotainment system, along with wireless phone charging. Top versions add 10-color ambient lighting and premium BeatsAudio sound system.

Two-tone seats add personality in cloth or leatherette/leather upholstery. Available features include an eight-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, heated steering wheel, and heated and ventilated front seats.

Volkswagen says the Taos has nearly the same passenger space as the two-row Tiguan—just a 1.6-cubic-foot difference by the company's measurements. It has a smaller cargo area but it’s still a good size for the segment. 

2022 Volkswagen Taos cargo

What Drives It

Unlike the Tiguan, which has a 2.0-liter engine, the Taos features a smaller 1.5-liter engine. It’s a slightly larger, more powerful version of the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine used in the Jetta. This engine creates 158 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. in the Taos. Front-wheel drive versions get a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission, and the all-wheel-drive versions use a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.  

Safety and Driver Assist Systems

Volkswagen has not announced what safety features will be standard equipment. The automaker does say its IQ Drive suite of advanced safety and driver assistance technology is available on every Taos model, however. This includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, lane keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control. Other features are also available, such as automatic high beams and parking obstruction warning.  

2022 Volkswagen Taos rear