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  5. 2022 VW Taos SE Test Drive Review

Exterior view of the Volkswagen Taos SE

The 2022 Volkswagen Taos is an all-new model that not only competes in the popular subcompact SUV segment, but it also takes the place of the entry-level VW Golf hatchback - the next-gen Golf will only be sold in the U.S. in the sportier GTI and R variants. With the Taos, VW now offers a solid five-model SUV lineup that includes the all-electric ID.4, the redesigned Tiguan (offering a class-exclusive third row) as well as the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport mid-size duo. In recent years, the number of subcompact SUVs has grown significantly, and the Taos is positioned against rivals such as the Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade and Hyundai Kona.

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2022 Volkswagen Taos SE Exterior

Exterior view of the Volkswagen Taos SE

In terms of the overall styling, the 2022 Volkswagen Taos represents a step backward in VW's design language, and that's because it was originally introduced for China back in 2018 - new versions of the Atlas and Tiguan were also introduced that year and both have been updated since. That's not to say the Taos isn't an attractive SUV, but it lacks the bolder design showcased on newer subcompact SUVs or even the facelifted versions of the 2021 Atlas and 2022 Tiguan. 

The front end is perhaps the best angle to view the Taos from with the wide, three-bar chrome grille with gloss black accents, although the strong side body creases and the center-mounted "TAOS" lettering provide a familiar VW look. Like many of its soft-roading rivals, the Taos features several pseudo-SUV traits such as the fake front and rear skid plates, gray plastic molding and fake chrome exhaust outlets. All Taos trim levels come standard with LED headlights and taillights. My favorite part about the styling of the Taos SE used for this review was the Pure Gray paint job paired with the black 18-inch alloy wheels - both the paint color and wheels are separate $395 options.

 

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2022 Volkswagen Taos SE Interior

Interior view of the Volkswagen Taos SE

Even though the 2022 Volkswagen Taos is almost a foot shorter in length than the current Tiguan, you won't find VW calling this new SUV a subcompact. The Taos is actually slightly bigger than the first-generation Tiguan (positioned as a compact SUV), which was sold from 2007 through 2017, allowing this newest VW SUV to be larger than its competitors with a more spacious back seat than the Chevrolet Trailblazer and more passenger and cargo volume than the Nissan Kicks and Toyota C-HR including 27.9 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 65.9 with the rear seats folded flat; opting for the available AWD system drops maximum cargo capacity down to 60.2 cubic feet. In addition to its spacious, five-passenger layout, the interior of the Taos features comfortable, supportive seats, although the cabin materials are subpar when compared to other subcompact SUVs. 

The good news is that VW's "democratization of technology" delivers class-leading features such as the Digital Cockpit configurable instrument cluster (standard on all trim levels) with an eight-inch screen on the S and SE trim levels and a 10.25-inch screen on the top SEL trim. The SE comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display, a wireless smartphone charger and three USB-C ports, and all trim levels have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. This 2022 Volkswagen Taos SE tester was also equipped with the $1,200 panoramic sunroof and an $895 bundle that paired the IQ.Drive suite of advanced safety features with the SE Convenience Package that adds a leatherette-wrapped, heated multi-function steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic high beam headlights. While the technology is impressive, the cabin materials and design are a bit bland and disappointing.

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2022 Volkswagen Taos SE Powertrain

Engine bay of the Volkswagen Taos SE

All versions of the 2022 Volkswagen Taos are powered by the same 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. On front-drive models, like this tester, the engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic, while models equipped with VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive get a seven-speed dual-clutch "DSG" transmission. The Taos is one of the most efficient SUVs in its segment with EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 28 mpg in the city and (tied for best-in-class) 36 mpg on the highway.

Power is sufficient for the 3,175-pound (FWD spec) SUV providing decent acceleration, and the steering is what we've come to expect from VW with a light and responsive feedback. While the cabin materials are subpar, the Taos delivers exceptional comfort with a smooth ride regardless of road conditions, and the optional IQ.Drive Package gives the Taos "hands-on, semi-automated" driving capabilities.

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2022 Volkswagen Taos SE Safety

Interior view of the Volkswagen Taos SE

The 2022 Volkswagen Taos has not yet been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but the Taos SE does come standard with forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitoring and rear traffic alert. The aforementioned IQ.Drive Package combines adaptive cruise control, Travel Assist, Lane Assist and Emergency Assist into an easy-to-use bundle of advanced safety features.

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2022 Volkswagen Taos SE Overall 

Interior view of the Volkswagen Taos SE

Standing as the smallest and most affordable of the five SUVs that VW sells, the 2022 Volkswagen Taos is an important addition to the Volkswagen lineup since it's positioned against an ever-growing crop of subcompact SUVs. While the Taos boasts a distinct size advantage over its rivals, it suffers from one of the highest prices of its competitive set with a starting MSRP of $22,995. The mid-level Taos SE FWD used for this review had all the available options resulting in an as-tested price of $30,035, which is about $3,000 more than the Honda HR-V in its top-of-the-line EX-L trim level.

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Jeffrey N. Ross | Nov 19, 2021

2022 Volkswagen Taos SE Specs

Layout

4-door, 5-passenger, FWD

Engine/Transmission

Turbo 1.5L I4
158 hp, 184 lb-ft
Eight-speed auto

Mileage

28/36
(city/hwy)

NHTSA Rating

N/A


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**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.