2023 volkswagen taos suv front parked on a desert track
Subcompact SUVs feed a hunger for space, affordability, and a certain sense of belonging—since almost everyone drives an SUV these days. Among 20 other competitors, the Volkswagen Taos quenches an additional, more recent consumer craving for parsimonious fuel economy. Available in front- or all-wheel drive, every Taos hums along getting exemplary real-world fuel mileage thanks to a stingy, 158-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The Taos doesn’t offer a hitch to tow with, so we’d suggest moving up to the larger Tiguan SUV for that, but there’s plenty of cargo space inside, even with the rear seats in use, to easily handle grocery duty. It’s a close fight among the best in this class, so the Tiguan’s low starting price and capacious cockpit make it a tempting choice among others such as the Kia Seltos and Chevrolet Trailblazer. Beating its EPA-estimate by 4 mpg, an all-wheel-drive Taos SEL we tested managed an awesome 40 mpg during our 200-mile, 75-mph highway fuel-economy test loop. Copious amounts of interior plastic help keep the Taos’ price down while making the more richly-appointed Mazda CX-30 cabin feel like a miniature luxury condo in comparison with the VW.
Volkswagen Taos: What's New for 2023?
VW’s smallest crossover doesn’t undergo much change for 2023, but it does receive a few equipment enhancements. Volkswagen adds driver assistance features such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitor, and rear traffic alert as standard equipment across all trims. The base S gets 18-inch wheels, instead of 17-inchers, on all-wheel-drive models. Lastly, the SEL now get a fancy panoramic sunroof as standard equipment.
We recommend the mid-level SE model because it provides the best value. It comes standard with 18-inch wheels, blind-spot monitoring, heated front seats, remote start, and wireless charging. We'd add all-wheel drive for an extra $1450, largely because it replaces the front-drive model's rear suspension with a more sophisticated independent unit. We'd also opt for the IQ.Drive and SE Convenience packages that add adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, a heated steering wheel, lane-keeping assist, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Volkswagen Taos: Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Taos is powered by VW's new turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It makes 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Front-drive versions feature an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel-drive models have a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The front-drive and all-wheel-drive Taos also have different rear suspensions, with the former using a torsion-beam setup and the latter using a more sophisticated multilink design. A set of 17-inch wheels are standard, but 18- and 19-inchers are also available. We appreciated the engine's low-speed thrust, the eight-speed automatic's unobtrusive operation, and the suspension's composure on even roads during our time with one.
Volkswagen Taos: Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The front-drive Taos is rated at 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, and the all-wheel-drive model is rated at 25 mpg city and 32 highway. We tested a front-drive Taos on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, and it earned an impressive 40 mpg, beating its EPA estimate. For more information about the Taos's fuel economy, visit the EPA's website.
Volkswagen Taos: Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, there's nothing overtly special about the Taos. The design and materials mimic the modern aesthetic found on other VW models. A fully digital gauge cluster is fitted to every dashboard and the standard two-tone seats are covered in cloth. However, leatherette and leather upholstery are both available, too. There's no shortage of popular options, either. The Taos cabin can be equipped with customizable ambient lighting, an eight-way power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, and a panoramic sunroof. The Taos boasts 37.9 inches of rear-seat legroom, which is only 0.8 inch less than the two-row Tiguan. The Taos also has 28 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seatbacks and 66 cubes with them folded flat.
Volkswagen Taos: Infotainment and Connectivity
Every Taos features a slick-looking infotainment system with a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard, and an 8.0-inch version is optional. The system can also be equipped with built-in navigation, an eight-speaker BeatsAudio stereo, SiriusXM satellite radio, and wireless smartphone charging.
Volkswagen Taos: Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The smallest VW crossover is available with a variety of driver-assistance technology, too, including forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking. For more information about the Taos's crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Standard forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking
- Standard rear traffic alert
Volkswagen Taos: Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Volkswagen provides an above-average limited warranty and below-average powertrain coverage. However, the company does include complimentary scheduled maintenance that aligns with Toyota.
Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
Complimentary scheduled maintenance is covered for two years or 20,000 miles