2022 Volkswagen Taos SEL AWD Review: Practical and Premium

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee


Engine: 1.5 L Turbo
Output: 158 hp, 184 lb-ft
Transmission: 7DCT, AWD
US fuel economy (MPG): 25/32
CAN fuel economy (L/100KM): 9.5/7.4
Starting Price (USD): $24,690 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (USD): $36,040 (inc. dest.)
Starting Price (CAD): $28,645 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (CAD Highline): $40,145 (inc. dest.)

How does one classify the Volkswagen Taos? It’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves for quite some time. And not just about the little Volkswagen SUV, but the segment as a whole.

Measuring in at 175.8 inches (4,466 mm) in length, the Taos is roughly half a foot shorter than traditional compact SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. But it’s also 7-10 inches longer than subcompact SUVs like the Chevrolet Trax and Hyundai Kona.

Get a Quote on a New Volkswagen Taos

The Taos falls into a category we’ve been unoriginally referring to as small compact SUVs. It’s a space initially carved out by the likes of the Subaru Crosstrek, Jeep Compass, and even the original Volkswagen Tiguan. But the Tiguan has since grown into a more traditional compact SUV, leaving a void that the Taos happily fills.

After all, this is a burgeoning segment that’s on many consumer’s radars. Recently there’s been an influx of just about every major manufacturer entering the fray. Kia has the Seltos, Toyota the Corolla Cross, Mazda the CX-30, and Volkswagen the Taos.

Volkswagen Taos – the Right Formula

Besides being the right length, everything else about the Taos has been designed and engineered to fit firmly within the small compact SUV space. Weight is a reasonable 3,430 lbs. (1,556 kg) for a fully loaded all-wheel drive model. Cargo capacity behind the rear seats is 24.9 cubic feet (705 L), which balloons to a class leading 60.2 cubic feet (1,705 L) when the seats are folded down.

SEE ALSO: 2022 Volkswagen Taos Review: First Drive

Inside the back seat can welcome adults with a decent 38.8 inches (986 mm) of headroom with panoramic sunroof installed, coupled to 37.9-inches (963 mm) of legroom. It’s not as spacious as larger compact SUVs, but it’s better than some of the Taos’ competitors.

Properly Appointed and Equipped

For evaluation we received a fully loaded 2022 Volkswagen Taos SEL AWD (called the Highline AWD in Canada). It comes equipped with features like adaptive front LED headlights, automatic dual zone climate control, leather seats, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, a Beats Audio system, and Volkswagen’s digital cockpit pro. Our vehicle also had the 19-inch wheels and panoramic sunroof.

Pricing for the Taos is very class competitive. It begins at $24,690 after destination charges for the entry level S front-wheel drive. Our fully loaded SEL AWD came in at $36,040 and included the optional sunroof package. In Canada, the Taos Trendline FWD starts at $28,645 while our Highline AWD with the optional 19-inch Alloy Wheel and Advanced Driver Assistance packages came in at $40,145.

The View Behind the Wheel

The interior has an upscale appearance. Quality materials are in abundance, but there are a few trim pieces that seem questionably low quality for an otherwise premium, pleasing aesthetic. The infotainment system takes some time to learn. The audio system was very simple to program and use. The Navigation system on the other hand I never fully figured out during my week with the vehicle. I am sure if I sat down with the owner’s manual, I’d have it figured out in short order.

I fit comfortably behind the wheel and found the driver’s seat and sight-lines both suited me ideally. My wife was not so fortunate. Standing at 5’2”, she found the seat cushion was too long and dug into the back of her knees. She also found it hard to position the tilt and telescopic steering wheel in a way that didn’t block the view of some of the gauge cluster.

A Premium Driving Experience

It doesn’t take much time behind the wheel to notice how the Taos feels more premium than most competitors in the class. The ride quality is comfortable and controlled while handling is top notch for the segment. Some Golf, and dare we say GTI, DNA appears to have leaked their way into the vehicle. This makes sense as it’s built on Volkswagen MQB platform that, in one form or another, underpins most of the brand’s vehicles including the Golf.

The Taos features several drive modes, including those for snow, off-roading, economy, and sporty driving. It’s possible to customize the off-road and sport mode settings as well.

SEE ALSO: 2022 Volkswagen Taos Review: Second Drive

Despite this built-in adaptability, the Taos really is more home on the pavement, as evident by the SEL’s 225/45R19 tires. With just 6.6-inches ground clearance, an 18-degree approach angle, and a 25-degree departure angle, the Taos is not intended to travel deep off the beaten path like a Subaru Crosstrek or Jeep Compass Trailhawk.

Plenty of Torque, But Rough Around the Edges

Powering all versions of the Taos is a punchy little 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With 184 lb-ft of torque at just 1,750 rpm, around town the engine has thrust for days. It feels more robust than that figure suggests. From a stop it never left us wanting for more power.

Trying passing at highway speeds though, and the Taos reminds its occupants that there is only 158 hp on tap. It’s not slow, but passing maneuvers should be somewhat planned in advance and not performed on a whim.

The 1.5-liter turbo exhibits no turbo lag, but it’s easy to be fooled into thinking it does due to the transmission. While front wheel drive versions of the Taos include an eight-speed automatic transmission, while all-wheel drive models switch to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT).

The enthusiast in us loves dual-clutch transmissions. Driving around with the rapidness and response of a DCT during spirited driving is a huge plus. But in mundane, city-based day-to-day driving, it’s a detriment. More than once the DCT got caught out in stop and go traffic. There would be a delay from throttle input to actual forward progression. During this delay the engine’s rpms would continue to climb, so once the transmission did engage, a wall of power would lurch the vehicle ahead with sudden authority.

This isn’t us picking on the Taos or Volkswagen’s DCT. We’ve always loved this transmission in the Volkswagen Golf. But when it comes to SUVs, we’ve never met a mainstream, compact SUV from any manufacturer with a DCT that we really liked.

The Verdict

The Volkswagen Taos separates itself in a growing, hard to classify segment. It’s a more premium, road-focused optioned compared to many Active Lifestyle contemporaries. The exterior has a sophisticated, subdued nature; even when finished in Cornflower Blue paint like our tester. The interior is spacious, comfortable, and upscale.

The transmission may be a sticking point for some consumers, but the rest of the drivetrain shines. The engine delivers above average levels of power while still achieving 25 mpg city (9.5 L/100 km) and 32 mpg (7.4 L/100 km) on the highway.

With the Tiguan having grown into a proper compact SUV, the Taos slots in perfectly below its larger sibling as a serious contender in the small compact SUV segment.


How much is a 2022 Volkswagen Taos worth?

The 2022 Volkswagen starts at $24,690 USD or $28,645 CAD. 

What is the Volkswagen Taos replacing?

The Taos slots below the Volkswagen Tiguan and fills the gap left by the original Tiguan since the new generation is larger.

Is the Volkswagen Taos available now?

Yes, the Taos is available for sale at your nearby Volkswagen dealer. 

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  • Refined Comfort and Handling
  • Premium Feel Throughout
  • Engine Torque


  • Transmission Jerkiness
  • Navigation Operation
  • Front Seat Comfort for Some Drivers
Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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