Thursday, August 5, 2021
First Reviews 2022 Volkswagen Taos First Drive Review: Stuck in the middle

2022 Volkswagen Taos First Drive Review: Stuck in the middle

2022 Volkswagen Taos Pros

  • Similar interior space to other compact SUVs
  • Great value and price breakdown
  • Strong handling and definitely fun to drive

2022 Volkswagen Taos Cons

  • Cargo area definitely on the small side
  • Turbo engine lacks a bit of oomph
  • Interior is a little bland

If you invite Volkswagen to an automaker party, it’s almost certain they show up late. Especially if it’s a Bring-Your-Own-SUV party. They were late with the Atlas, late with the Tiguan, and now they are late with the 2022 Volkswagen Taos we just had the pleasure of driving. But is being the last to do something a bad thing?

Not in the automotive world. The sport utility vehicle segments have been exploding in popularity for the last decade and many companies have rushed to bring something – anything – to the market.

2022 Volkswagen Taos
2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

Because of that, consumers have a lot of options in every important SUV segment, and you have to plan things out if you want your model to stand out. Volkswagen took the time to understand what buyers wanted in the mid-size and compact SUV segments before introducing the Atlas and Tiguan, and now they are doing the same thing in the subcompact segment. Except the 2022 Volkswagen Taos isn’t a subcompact SUV.

As I was driving the new Taos around Hockley, Ontario this week, Stuck In The Middle With You by Stealers Wheel started playing on SiriusXM and the further I got into the song, the more I realized it’s the perfect anthem for the Taos.

2022 Volkswagen Taos
2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

You’d think by its price and position in the VW lineup that the Taos is a subcompact SUV, or the North American equivalent of the T-Roc in Europe, but no. The new Taos is actually considered a compact SUV like the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V. It’s in the same segment as the Tiguan, although unlike the latter the Taos is one of the smallest compacts you can get while the Tiguan is one of the largest and the only one with three rows of seats.

Let’s get one thing straight right now, the 2022 Volkswagen Taos cannot compete on interior space or cargo capacity with the RAV4, CR-V, new Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Hyundai Tucson or even its own brother the Tiguan. But it is considerably larger than subcompact models like the Nissan Qashqai, Honda HR-V, Kia Seltos, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota C-HR or Chevrolet Trax.

2022 Volkswagen Taos
2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

It is stuck right in the middle between these two segments and the real question you have to ask yourself about the Taos isn’t whether it is spacious enough for the compact SUV segment. You need to check if it is spacious enough for you.

I think the answer for many buyers will be that is most certainly is.

Cargo Capacity and Interior

Let’s get some numbers out of the way and then, more importantly, see how they rank in the segment.

The 2022 Volkswagen Taos offers 790 litres of cargo space behind the rear seats and 1,866 litres of total space. Legroom is 1,019 mm in front and 963 mm in the back while headroom is 1,003 mm up front with the sunroof and 986 mm in the back, again with sunroof.

2022 Volkswagen Taos
2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

In terms of cargo space, the Taos ranks near the bottom of the segment alongside the Jeep Cherokee. Even the Mazda CX-5 is larger in the trunk. But, you can still fit a couple of golf bags back there, two big IKEA bags, a week’s worth of groceries or your hockey equipment. We didn’t check all of these items, but they passed the eye test.

The Taos is sized roughly like the previous generation of the Tiguan, but with more interior space. You will also fit more stuff in the trunk than any subcompact SUV including the HR-V and Kia Seltos. If you fold the rear seats, you’re about 200 litres away from the top models in the compact segment which is to say that the difference is size shrinks considerably when you fold down those rear seats.

As for interior space, it gets a bit more interesting for the Taos. Headroom and legroom are pretty much par front and back with the Toyota RAV4, and more generous than the Rogue and CX-5. The CR-V has it beat, but as far as the Forester, Tucson, Sportage, Cherokee and others go, they are pretty much equal with the 2022 Taos.

2022 Volkswagen Taos
2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

On the road with the 2022 Volkswagen Taos

The 2022 Volkswagen Taos is powered by a 1.5-litre turbo that delivers 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This is an improved version of the 1.4-litre turbo that powers the Golf and Jetta. It has the same torque, but more horsepower.

The engine struggles a bit to move the Taos with gusto, but that’s the car journalist talking. I will say that anyone coming from a Golf or Jetta, or worst a Tiguan may feel like the Taos is underpowered. The same thing may happen if you test drive the Taos after driving the CX-5, RAV4 or even the new Rogue. On the other hand, it delivers a lot better performance than any subcompact so once again, it’s right in the middle.

People who are used to Volkswagen products will feel at home behind the wheel. The Taos handles very well and can be enjoyed on a winding road. The interior layout is typical Volkswagen which means that everything makes sense and the build quality is way above average, but there’s no flashiness to be found here. There is a hint of luxury, however, especially in the top Highline (SEL) model.

2022 Volkswagen Taos
2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

There’s a lot of value here

The 2022 Volkswagen Taos is smaller in the trunk and not as quick as larger compact SUVs, but it has similar interior space to many of them. If you were to plot it along the line of subcompact SUVs on the left and compact SUVs on the right, it would definitely lean more towards the right.

The same can be said for pricing, but the value proposition is perhaps where the Taos shines the brightest.

You will pay $26,695 for a base Taos and enjoy heated front seats and 17-inch wheels along with LED headlights. The middle Comfortline model gets you blind spot monitoring, leatherette seats, keyless access and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for a very reasonable $32,395. The Highline model adds the Volkswagen digital cockpit (exclusive in the segment), panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, and even interior ambient lighting for $36,695.

2022 Volkswagen Taos
2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

I tried; I couldn’t find another compact SUV to give you all of this for under $40,000.

That’s for Canada, but holds true in the US as well. The S trim ($22,995) gets a standard VW Digital Cockpit which you won’t find elsewhere in the segment while the SE ($27,245) and SEL ($31,490) trims give you features that cost a lot more in larger compact SUVs.

The value proposition offered by the 2022 Volkswagen Taos should attract non-traditional buyers to the brand while the way the Taos drives will make VW enthusiasts happy. The cargo space may stop a few families or active buyers from choosing the new Taos, but the interior versatility more than makes up for it. Volkswagen took their time bringing the Taos to the market, but the end result should be a hit with North American consumers.

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

2022 Volkswagen Taos | Photo: Lucas Scarfone

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Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur was studying to be a CPA when he decided to drop everything and launch a car website in 2012. Don't ask. The journey has been an interesting one, but today he has co-founded and manages 8 websites including EcoloAuto.com and MotorIllustrated.com as General Manager of NetMedia360. He also sits on the board of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. Send me an email

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