Most automakers continue to double down on crossovers, and Volkswagen is certainly no exception. After building on the Atlas’ success with a two-row Cross Sport, it’s time to consider the rest of the market. A new Tiguan is coming next fall, but before that its baby brother will hit dealers. Meet the 2022 Volkswagen Taos.
“Taos, you say? What’s that?” This tiny Tiguan (of sorts) is Volkswagen’s new entry-level model, slotting below the Tiguan in the growing range of small crossovers. Think Nissan Rogue Sport, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos and Mazda CX-30 in terms of its competition. This model captures most of the market from large, three-row SUV on down, and it’s a new strategy to pull in young buyers who prefer a crossover over, say, a Jetta sedan. To wit, Volkswagen mentions that 4 million vehicles sold in 2019 — nearly a quarter of all new car sales — were compact SUVs.
What’s new with the Volkswagen Taos?
The 2022 Volkswagen Taos is the brand’s first U.S. entry into this space (the Audi Q3 is more or less the same size). In terms of styling, it’s a bit of Atlas in the front, Tiguan in the back. Unlike swoopier entries like the Mazda CX-30, the new Taos retains its more conventional SUV shape in a smaller overall package. At 175.8 inches long, VW’s new entry-level crossover is 9.3 inches shorter than a Tiguan. The company has not specifically disclosed its ground clearance yet, though it looks like it will stay around 8 inches, as both its larger siblings manage.
Despite its small stature, the 2022 Volkswagen Taos doesn’t give up much in terms of cargo space from the Tiguan. Here, the car manages 66.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded. Keep the rear seats in place, and you still get 28.1 cubic feet. That’s a level of roominess that beats out all its direct rivals and even beating out some larger entries like the Ford Escape and Chevy Equinox.
Under the hood is a new 1.5-liter EA211 engine, which is a similar displacement to what’s in the current Jetta. However, this bored out turbo mill will reportedly replace the old 1.4-liter unit, and draws some of its technological updates from the larger EA888 2.0-liter found in the Tiguan. The end result here is 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, an 11 horsepower improvement over the Jetta. Front-wheel drive models see that engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Opt for 4Motion all-wheel drive, and you’ll instead see VW’s 7-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission.
No fuel economy information is available yet. We should know more about that closer to the Taos’ summer 2021 launch.
Even though it’s competing in the lower end of the crossover segment, the 2022 Volkswagen Taos isn’t wanting for technology. VW’s Digital Cockpit comes as standard equipment across the range, completely replacing analog gauge clusters. The Taos also uses the company’s latest MIB3 infotainment system, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support baked in. Mid-level SE and top-tier SEL trims get an 8.0-inch unit, while base S models get a slightly smaller screen. Upper trims get well as 10-color ambient lighting and a 10-speaker BeatsAudio sound system.
While the entertainment tech is pretty standard fare, Volkswagen’s IQ.DRIVE driver assistance suite is where the company is really loading up the Taos. The suite includes features like forward collision warning with autonomous braking, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, Travel Assist and automatic high-beam control. Adaptive front lighting and Park Distance Control are available on some models.
More information coming next year
For now, pricing for the 2022 Volkswagen Taos is also a mystery. We expect it to start somewhere in the low-$20,000 range, with upper trims reaching $30,000.
Volkswagen says this model sits in the “middle of the entry compact SUV space”. Contrast that to the Tiguan, which sits at the “top of the compact SUV space”. In short, while this is the first sub-Tiguan model from VW, it may not actually be the last. The Hyundai Venue and Ford EcoSport are smaller-still crossovers, while there may also be room to split the difference between the Taos and Tiguan, as the Atlas Cross Sport does before the full-size Atlas.
More details will follow in the coming months. However, we do know the 2022 Volkswagen Taos will be built at the company’s Puebla, Mexico plant next year. The engine will also be manufactured in Mexico.