The 2022 Volkswagen Taos Is a Subcompact ‘SUV’ Made for America

While crossovers and SUVs aren’t the same things, the terms are practically synonymous these days. And both are extremely popular, especially in the US. That’s why Volkswagen, while it’s best-known internationally for hatches like the GTI, offers two SUVs/crossovers here: the Tiguan and the Atlas. But it doesn’t have a subcompact crossover to take on the likes of the Kia Seltos and Honda HR-V. The 2022 Volkswagen Taos, though, aims to correct that.

What does the 2022 Volkswagen Taos offer?

As of this writing, the 2022 Volkswagen Taos hasn’t officially debuted. That will happen on October 13th, 2020, and it should hit US dealerships in summer 2021. However, Volkswagen has released some information about its smallest SUV/crossover.

Firstly, it’s important to note that the 2022 Volkswagen Taos is a crossover, not an SUV. It’s built on the same platform that Volkwagen’s passenger cars use, Car and Driver reports. Without a body-on-frame design, it technically can’t be an SUV. But at this point, few if any automakers recognize the distinction. Hence why Volkswagen calls the Taos an SUV.

A white 2019 Volkswagen Jetta by a forest lake
2019 Volkswagen Jetta | Volkswagen

The 2022 Volkswagen Taos doesn’t just have a car-based platform, but it also has a car-based engine, Autoweek reports. Under the hood is a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 158 hp and 184 lb-ft, Motor Trend reports. It’s basically an enlarged and upgraded version of the 1.4-liter engine found in the Jetta.

Initially, Volkswagen will only offer the Taos with an 8-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. But shortly thereafter, an AWD trim with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic will also become available, Roadshow reports.

As of this writing, Volkswagen hasn’t revealed what features the 2022 Taos will offer. However, Car and Driver reports it will likely come with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and WiFi as standard. Things like heated front seats, navigation, a heated steering wheel, and ADAS upgrades will likely be optional on lower trims.

How does it drive?

A white pre-production 2022 Volkswagen Taos prototype
2022 Volkswagen Taos prototype | Autotrader via YouTube

Although Volkswagen hasn’t officially revealed the 2022 Taos, it has let several publications take brief rides in prototypes. These prototypes had disguised interiors, Automobile reports, so evaluating the features and material quality wasn’t possible. But as for how Volkswagen’s smallest ‘SUV’ drove, initial reports seem generally positive.

There’s a bit of turbo lag when you press the accelerator, MT reports. But the Taos’ engine makes enough power for unproblematic highway passing. The 8-speed transmissions shifts smoothly and never seems to be in the wrong gear. The cabin is quiet at speed and the brakes are “reassuring,” Automobile reports. But while the ride is comfortable, Roadshow reports, there’s a bit of body roll when you try to take corners. Still, it’s not egregious.

How does the 2022 Volkswagen Taos compare to the SUV—er, crossover competition?

Unfortunately, Volkswagen also hasn’t released official pricing details for the 2022 Taos as of this writing. So, it’s difficult to accurately compare it to its fellow subcompact crossovers. Automobile estimates it will start around $22,995; Roadshow pegs the price at somewhere in the “low $20,000s.”

2021 Kia Seltos driving down urban street
2021 Kia Seltos | Kia

That’s roughly where the Kia Seltos starts. Its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes less power, but it comes standard with AWD. But, unlike the Volkswagen Taos, the Seltos has another engine option, a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 175 hp.

A red 2020 Mazda CX-30
2020 Mazda CX-30 | Mazda

For those interested in a sportier driving experience, there’s the Mazda CX-30. It too costs roughly the same as the Taos. But its standard engine, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, is even more powerful than the Seltos’. And for 2021, it finally gains a proper touchscreen display.

A yellow 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport on a foggy field
2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport | Subaru

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And then there’s the Subaru Crosstrek. For 2021, it receives a new turbocharged engine option that should resolve its acceleration issue. And it comes with standard AWD and more ground clearance than many of its rivals, MT reports.

Whether or not the 2022 Volkswagen Taos has what it takes to succeed will have to wait until the ‘SUV’ officially launches.

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