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A man is shown walking towards the driver's side of a blue 2022 Volkswagen Taos.

How the Volkswagen Taos Is Standing Tall in Its Sophomore Year

It is said that the “sophomore slump” isn’t just a saying– it’s a very real and true phenomenon. If that’s true, no one bothered mentioning it to the Volkswagen Taos. Now in its second year of production, the 2023 Taos resumes its position as one of the most fun, tech-savvy, and overall enjoyable subcompact SUVs on the market today. Just check out any VW Taos dealer, and you’re sure to see how thrilled they are by the onslaught of drivers coming to check out the now-proven ride that combines compact vehicle zip with the tall, spacious appeal of an SUV.

Some experts theorize that small SUVs are rising in popularity in direct correlation to waning interest in sedans. Though many compact and subcompact SUVs are similar in width and height to the average sedan, they’re much taller, and their hatchback design combined with this raised platform allows for more cargo room that’s easier to reach. Others believe it’s the overall balance of fuel economy with a larger vehicle that drives the compact SUV’s appeal. Whatever the case, the 2023 Volkswagen Taos delivers a friendly size and pleasant attitude that, when accompanied by the many available comfort and convenience features, leads to an exceptional travel companion that is worth experiencing. Take a look at how the VW Taos has managed to avoid the sophomore slump to take on the fierce competition in the small SUV segment.

A woman is shown opening the sunroof of a 2022 Volkswagen Taos at a VW Taos dealer.

First Things First: How Does It Drive?

It takes a real auto enthusiast to wax poetic about the size and shape of a vehicle. The first question most folks ask when introduced to a new vehicle is, “How does it drive?” After all, cars are certainly meant to be looked at, but without the driving part, you have a very awkwardly designed seating area. The point of a car is to go, and the 2023 VW Taos does this pretty well. Equipped with a brand-new turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder engine, the 2023 Taos provides a perfectly peppy 158 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. This isn’t enough pep to tow large objects, but that’s not in the small SUV’s job description. Instead, the Taos is prepared to cheerfully go wherever you need to travel on any given day, safely and efficiently.

The Taos engine is perfectly paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission in front-wheel drive models and a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic in the all-wheel drive versions. Volkswagen’s 4MOTION all-wheel drive system is available to help drivers feel more stable on the road with optimized traction and torque wherever it’s needed. It also features four selectable driving modes, including Snow Mode, On-Road Mode, Off-Road Mode, and an Off-Road Custom Mode that allows drivers to adjust the settings to match the terrain.

The Practical Things: Fuel Economy and Safety

While we don’t generally want to think about things like our monthly fuel budget, or how safe we might be in the event of an accident, they’re actually very responsible things to consider when looking for a new vehicle. Thankfully, the 2023 VW Taos takes these inquiries in stride. Fuel economy is quite reasonable among the small SUV class, with front-wheel drive models rating at 28 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway. Those equipped with 4MOTION take a slight dip in fuel economy, as is common with all-wheel drive vehicles, but nothing drastic. 4MOTION versions of the Taos are good for 25 MPG in the city and 32 MPG once you hit the highway.

Safety is provided by the Volkswagen IQ.DRIVE driver assistance technology. Included in the suite of features are familiar elements like adaptive cruise control, active blind spot monitor, lane assist, and rear traffic alert, with a few additions that are exclusive to Volkswagen. Travel assist provides semi-automated driving capabilities, assisting drivers with hands-on steering and lane centering. Front assist provides extra eyes on the road ahead, with audio and visual alerts when an obstacle is detected and automatic braking to help mitigate a collision. Emergency assist can detect when a driver is incapacitated or unable to react to safety alerts and bring the Taos to a controlled stop to avoid further danger. IQ.DRIVE is standard on the SE and SEL trims and optional on the S trim.

A person is shown walking past the rear of a blue 2022 Volkswagen Taos.

The Fun Stuff: Space and Technology

One might argue that space and technology aren’t exactly “fun.” Space happens of its own accord, and technology can be a pain as you’re trying to figure out what all the buttons do and why. However, in the 2023 Taos, the space is made fun by the possibilities it presents. With all five seats occupied, the hatchback opens to a pleasant 27.9 cu.ft. of cargo space while rear seat passengers enjoy a comfortable 37.9 inches of legroom. Fold the rear seats down to access 65.9 cu.ft. of cargo space, which can be filled with gear, equipment, furniture, and more.

Technology is both robust and straightforward. The base S trim includes all of the necessities, including a 6.5-inch infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, an 8-inch all-digital instrument cluster known as the Digital Cockpit, and Bluetooth connectivity. The SE trim steps up the gadgetry with an 8-inch infotainment screen and wireless app interface and charging. Power-adjustable heated CloudTex-upholstered seats are also part of the SE’s appeal.

The SEL trim adds a premium BeatsAudio system, built-in navigation, dynamic road sign display, and a massive 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit display, along with a front parking distance sensor and auto-dimming interior rear view mirror. The SEL is also dressed in leather seating and includes Volkswagen’s Climatronic touch dual-zone automatic climate control with an advanced air filter to keep the cabin fresh. A power panoramic sunroof is optional on the SE and standard on the SEL as well.

Big Things to Come in the Volkswagen Taos

With just two years of production to its name, it seems that the Volkswagen Taos is destined for an impressive future. Experts and fans are already contemplating on what may be in store for future years of the Taos, with speculation ranging from possible additional engine options to even more luxurious trim options. Only time will tell which of these predictions will come true.

There are many choices to be made in the ever-growing small SUV segment. Subcompact SUVs like the Volkswagen Taos have a lot to offer drivers, with a comfortable height, not-too-scary size, peppy and responsive driving capabilities, and all the bells and whistles that take the dread out of the daily commute for those who spend an abundance of time in their vehicle.

With a fuel economy that makes it appropriate for road trips, an optional all-wheel drive system that provides impressive stability, and that certain something that makes European-designed vehicles so darn fun, the Volkswagen Taos avoids the sophomore slump by staying true to its vision without making too many big leaps or assumptions. Its three trims manage to hit a sweet spot between simplicity and sheer enjoyability, providing drivers with three levels of safety, technology, and comfort features to fit their individual needs. Sure, there may be a lot of small SUVs out there, but there’s only one VW Taos.