2022 Volkswagen Taos Review: Second Drive

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick


Engine: 1.5L I4 Turbo
Output: 158 hp, 184 lb-ft
Transmission: 7DCT, AWD
US fuel economy (MPG): 25/32/28
CAN fuel economy (L/100KM): 9.5/7.4/8.5
Starting Price (USD): $24,190 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (USD): $35,440 (inc. dest.)
Starting Price (CAD): $28,645 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (CAD): $40,145 (inc. dest.)

Volkswagen does not want you to call this a sub-compact crossover.

The temptation to refer to the 2022 Volkswagen Taos as such is strong. The company already has a compact crossover in the Tiguan—surely it wouldn’t build two cars in the same segment, right?

Call it making up for lost time. Volkswagen’s Thomas Tetzlaff doesn’t mince words as he addresses the small group of media assembled in the scenic Hockley Valley to drive the Taos. He tells us all that Volkswagen didn’t take the crossover craze seriously a decade ago, and has spent a long time playing catch-up.

Get a Quote on a New Volkswagen Taos

With the Taos, the company hasn’t just brought over a Euro-market sub-compact like the T-Roc and called it a day. Instead, this is a cute-ute tailor-made for the North American market. As the de facto entry point into the brand for many folks, the Taos comes out the gate strong, with an appealing mix of space, comfort, and that semi-premium ride typical of VW.

Editor’s Note: This was AutoGuide’s second go with the Taos, after friend and contributor Chad Kirchner drove it first in May (you can read his Taos First Drive Review here). This was our first chance to sample it on Canadian soil, however.

What’s new?

The Taos is the latest member of the Volkswagen SUV lineup, which now numbers five in North America. It’s the smallest, but at 175.8 inches (4,466 mm) long, it’s not small. The VW people on the ground are all too happy to point out it gives up only 1.8 inches (45 mm) of rear legroom to the bigger two-row Tiguan. That’s despite the Taos being a full 10 inches (254 mm) trimmer bumper to bumper. (The Tiguan does still offer a third row however, something only it and the Mitsubishi Outlander offer in this class.)

SEE ALSO: 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Review: A Passing Grade

In fact, thanks to its boxier shape, the Taos actually exceeds big brother on head room. The exterior look is more Atlas than Tiguan, with an upright fascia that smoothly combines headlights and grille. The top trim adds a thin LED light bar connecting the headlights to the badge, a look that is quickly spreading across the VW empire.

Move around to the back and the rear of the Taos is immediately identifiable as a VW. The design is clean and unfussy—whether that’s “boring” or “handsome” is up to you, but I imagine the Taos will age well. I’m docking points for those fake exhaust outlets, though; the real pipe exits behind the right side of the bumper.

Sharp-looking 19-inch alloys connect this range-topping model to terra firma. This is obviously a road-biased crossover, though it’s available in both front- and all-wheel drive forms. VW Canada expects the vast majority of Taos sales to be the latter; we’re talking double-digit total sales of front-drivers, probably.

Driving experience

There’s a strong argument to be made to opt for the 4Motion-equipped Taos even if you live in a warmer clime. That’s because it uses a multi-link rear suspension instead of the simpler torsion beam setup. I wasn’t able to sample a front-drive Taos during the day, but I can’t imagine it would match the secure, big-car ride of the 4Motion model. The Taos stays level around bends, and its steering wheel is light and accurate. While the Taos rides like a bigger rig, it never feels physically bigger. It’s a tight and tidy package that is easy to place on the road. On a day that vacillates between sunny and torrential downpours, the Taos never put a wheel wrong.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Mazda CX-30 Review: Fun for the Small Family

Under the hood of every Taos sits the same engine, a new 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Outputs of 158 hp and 184 lb-ft are average for the class. The number of driven wheels also dictates the transmission: 4Motion models like this are equipped with a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch, while front-drivers stick to a traditional eight-speed auto.

It’s a good pairing, with the transmission logic usually picking the right gears quickly for the task at hand. The only trip-up is rolling start jerkiness, where the throttle almost goes binary: it’s either little power, or all of it. There are selectable drive modes, including the usual Sport and Comfort—effectively for high revs or lazy throttle response, respectively. There’s also an off-road option. The most I can challenge the Taos with is a rock-strewn dirt road, but on steeper descents, the mode makes use of additional engine braking to ensure a safe, steady crawl.

Volkswagen pegs the Taos’ fuel economy at 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 28 mpg combined. Canadian figures are 9.5, 8.4, and 7.5 L/100 km, respectively.

Creature comforts

The Taos’ interior is a good place to be, again feeling far bigger than the outer shell suggests. Plenty of glass gives it an airy feeling, further helped by the panoramic sunroof. The view ahead is clear, though I’m a little surprised there’s no head-up display, even as an option.

The dashboard design is typical VW: clean, logically laid out, and generally good quality. Top models such as this get the option of a two-tone setup, lifting the ambiance. Every Taos gets Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit instrument panel, but SEL (Highline in Canada) benefits from a larger screen, with native navigation. It’s a great setup, as easy to customize as it is to read. The 8.0-inch infotainment screen is similarly useful, and it offers wireless mirroring for both Android and Apple users.

SEE ALSO: Subaru Crosstrek vs Mazda CX-30 Comparison

Space in the back is genuinely adult-friendly, with 37.9 inches (963 mm) of leg room letting this 5’10” writer stretch right out. My hair doesn’t brush the headliner, either.

Considering how close the top-shelf Taos inches to the compact crew in price, there are some notable absences on the features list. The front seats are heated and ventilated here, but rear riders get neither. The tailgate is manual-only, which is more surprising.

More problematic is the lack of standard driver assists. In Canada, you’ll need to go for middle-trim Comfortline to net even automated emergency braking with pedestrian assist, and blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert. The top trim adds dynamic auto headlights, but still needs an additional $1,000 package for things like lane-keep assist, traffic sign display, and adaptive cruise control. In America, these are bundled as the IQ.Drive suite ($995), optional on the S and SE, and standard on the SEL.

Who’s the competition?

Due to its ‘tweener status, the Taos faces stiff competition from both the sub-compact and compact camps. Combined, these two segments make up the majority of new-car sales in Canada and the US, so everybody has an option (or two, or three) vying for car buyers’ money.

On the smaller side are the likes of the Subaru Crosstrek, Kia Seltos, and Mazda CX-30. When we pitted the Mazda against both in separate comparisons, we called it the winner, largely based on its class-leading driving dynamics and premium interior. We stand by that decision, but those looking to stick adults in the back regularly will find the CX-30 tight.

SEE ALSO: 2021 Kia Seltos Turbo vs 2020 Mazda CX-30 Comparison

In the compact sector, there’s the usual suspects, namely the Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, and Hyundai Tucson. You’ll find more space in all of them, and more power to lug it all around. In AWD form, the Japanese duo matches or betters the Taos’ fuel economy ratings, too.

You won’t find the larger compacts at the same starting price as the Taos though, which begins at $24,190 ($28,645 CAD) including destination. That sum nets buyers a front-drive Taos S (Trendline in Canada), which includes the 6.5-inch touchscreen, 60/40 folding rear seats with pass-through, heated front seats (Canada-only), and a solo USB-C port. The mid-spec SE (Comfortline in Canada) adds much of the good stuff for $28,835 ($34,345 CAD), like wireless phone mirroring, three USB-C ports, voice control, and the larger touchscreen. Opt for the top SEL (Highline in Canada, only available with 4Motion) and you’ll find leather, the 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit, heated steering wheel, ambient lighting, and more goodies.

SEE ALSO: 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Review: Better, But Too Rich

The $35,440 ($40,145 CAD) as-tested price eclipses the sub-compact crew—and the Eclipse Cross—but the Taos’ size and classy ride/interior are hard to match.

Final thoughts: 2022 Volkswagen Taos Second Drive Review

The 2022 Volkswagen Taos is a quietly competent crossover, almost always right near the front of the pack by every measure. The only real blemish on its record is a stingy standard safety suite, requiring buyers move to the pricey higher trims (and spec optional packages) to gain access.

Are we sad the non-performance Golf is gone from these shores? Sure, especially since even a base Taos is a few grand more to start. But the Taos should prove more appealing to modern shoppers. It has one of the nicer interiors in its class—with actual adult-friendly space—and a ride that feels far more grown-up than its diminutive dimensions suggest. The Taos’ Goldilocks blend of size and features should make it a hit for growing families.

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  • Goldilocks size
  • Big-car ride without the footprint
  • Second-row space


  • Low-speed throttle jerkiness
  • Stingy safety suite
  • Pricey at the top
Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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