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A blue 2022 Volkswagen Taos is shown from the side parked in front of a bridge after winning a 2022 Volkswagen Taos vs 2022 Jeep Compass comparison.

New Kid in the Neighborhood: How the 2022 Volkswagen Taos Shapes Up

The creative folks in Lower Saxony, Germany, have done a noteworthy job of reviving what many critics had deemed an unappealing SUV family of Volkswagen (VW) products. By correctly aligning affordability with a more diverse line of compact, midsize, and larger SUVs, VW was able to become very competitive in America’s top-rated segments. In 2020, the Tiguan, Atlas, and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs alone represented two-thirds of all VW sales — up nearly 50 percentage points from just five years ago. The brand-new Taos fittingly gives VW even more overall flexibility by making a statement in the smaller, entry-level SUV market. Let’s take a look at a 2022 Volkswagen Taos vs 2022 Jeep Compass to see how the newest VW entry measures up against the freshly-updated Compass.

In the Eye of the Beholder

When doing a walk-around of the 2022 Jeep Compass, it becomes clear the styling remains consistent with the Cherokee family of SUVs. The classic seven-slot grille is nicely accented, with new fog lights added upfront, helping to maintain that adventuresome look. Answering critical feedback, Jeep made several obvious interior upgrades, such as painted and chrome accents, a new steering wheel, and more modern cup holders/HVAC vents. The instrument panel now has a more premium element going on, which is commonly seen in top competitors. But in the end, the Compass is nothing overly flashy, just a classic meat-and-potatoes Jeep with modern amenities riding an appeal that’s persevered for decades.

On the other hand, the 2022 VW Taos has a noticeably clean, du jour aspect that ups the modish factor in a slightly sophisticated manner. Not to be confused with cost-cutting measures of the past, the rather simplistic Taos interior matches its unsullied persona as a whole. Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit is now standard, giving the driver a complete line of snazzy color digital gauges which are interactive. Various accents such as polished chrome, stitched leather, and glossy/matte dash components all add to a mix that is pleasantly uncomplicated.

From the outside, the Taos slightly lesser stature rolls with a quiet confidence, rather than flexing any muscle. One of the first aspects that appeal to the eye is the recessed lines in the middle of the side molding that eventually flare back out. That’s a nice touch, and it compliments the styling VW was shooting for. Looking from the rear, the Taos has a uniform, slightly boxy design somewhat similar to what BMW, Lexus, and Range Rover have embraced in recent times. Sculpted tail lights, smooth lines, and tailpipes infused in the rear bumper all play nice together. The fascia is forthright, with the classic VW emblem leading the way and a cool blacked-out X-shaped bumper. The uncluttered and flush exterior may lack an element of adventure compared to some top-segment performers, but it’s definitely more of a free spirit than most.

The Taos aesthetics should be quite appealing to those who appreciate where VW is going with this design concept. The Taos will likely be on the radar of a slightly different demographic, with its emphasis on a tad more excitable panache than readily found on many other compact SUVs in the segment. In a word, the Taos looks ‘fun,’ and that will no doubt be a draw to younger drivers.

A grey 2022 Jeep Compass is shown from the front parked in a city.

Which Vehicle Has the Best Performance?

With a 2.4L, 180 hp engine standard, the Jeep cannot match the fuel economy of the Taos. The Compass is rated at 22 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway, which falls short of many in the niche. The Taos 1.5L, inline 4-cylinder flashes impressive numbers of 28 MPG city and 36 MPG highway along with 158 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, direct-injection, and a turbocharger providing adequate acceleration from the push. That alone is a big thumbs-up from VW’s of yesteryear.

The Taos powerplant – which has also been powering the Jetta – is now improved, embracing tech that manipulates intake valve openings early in the cycle to help with fuel economy. The turbocharger utilizes Variable Turbine Geometry (VTG), which, much like the intake valve tech that only allows valves to be open when needed, controls the aspect ratio only applying the turbocharger to satisfy immediate driving conditions. The end result is better efficiency and fewer unwanted emissions than many in the segment, including the Jeep Compass.

When it comes to off-road prowess, the Jeep Compass is the clear winner, and that should surprise absolutely no one. The Jeep commitment to taming roads of any kind is well-documented, and the Compass has a host of goodies geared toward the faithful. With features like Jeep Active Drive, an automatic system that can transfer needed torque to a specific wheel, the Jeep platform is more conducive to serious off-roading. The top-shelf Trailhawk trim takes things to another level with Jeep Active Drive Low, which increases performance in the lowest range. Jeep Compass 4×4 models also have Selec-Terrain, with multiple modes for hills and descent control.

Although the Taos is a bit marked-out in this category, it’s highly unlikely someone interested in all the Taos has to offer would be deterred by this. After all, on gravel or bumpy roads, the Taos more than holds its own, performing as well or perhaps a tad better when it comes to absorbing common road conditions. The FWD version has a standard torsion-beam rear suspension that might normally cause some concerns with overall driveability, but the Taos has raised eyebrows in critical testing. That said, if your budget allows, the 4Motion AWD is a wise choice. The multilink rear suspension better adheres to road surfaces (especially in bad conditions) and beefs up the SUV’s proficiency off the beaten path.

Much like the Jeep Compass, the Taos 4Motion has a nifty driver-assist program of its own. Volkswagen describes it as a “multi-functional and intuitive rotary knob and push switch used to control the all-wheel functions and associated driving modes.” A simple knob turns to the left or right will activate modes such as Street, Snow, or Off-Road. The driver can also access individual profiles titled Comfort, Normal, Sport, Eco, and Individual. All-in-all, the experience behind the wheel with VW’s smallest compact SUV will likely be an enjoyable one, especially on normal pavement where the Taos has an exciting edge on the Compass.

One of the Most Important Things: Safety

With official safety data still somewhat fuzzy for the 2022 Jeep Compass, since the setup is essentially the same (a shared platform with the Renegade), the 2021 standards can apply here. First though, here are the positives for 2022: Jeep incorporated a stellar list of standard safety features such as full-speed forward collision warning, active braking, pedestrian alert, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The bad news: 2021 Compass scored a low-end NHTSA overall crash safety score of 4 (out of 5) while tallying a poor 3 when it comes to a rollover, and we aren’t sure it’ll score much better for 2022.

There is also a lot of great safety tech in the VW Taos. The Taos relies on an advanced driving assistance system they call the IQ Drive Package, which is option-only for their basic S trim and semi-option for the SE. The IQ package comes standard on the top-of-the-line SEL trim and includes:

  • Front Assist – forward collision warning with auto-braking
  • Travel Assist -adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go/lane-centering
  • Lane Assist -lane-departure warning/lane-keeping assist
  • Active Blind Spot Monitor – keeps an eye on the areas you can’t see
  • Rear Traffic Alert – let’s you know when there’s something behind you while reversing
  • Emergency Assist -determines if there’s a medical emergency or if the driver has fallen asleep
  • Traffic-Jam Assistance -helps avoid unforeseen road issues and closures
  • Road-Sign Recognition/Navigation -monitors speed limit and other important signs
  • Intelligent Crash Response System -shuts off fuel, unlocks all doors, turns on hazard lights
  • Rear Park Distance Control – parking sensors and an automatic reverse braking system prevent backing into something

With the rapid increase in viable technology, grading safety wherewithal is somewhat subjective now that more and more features are becoming standard — even on basic trims. Even so, it’s always something to consider, particularly if precious cargo will frequent the vehicle.

A blue 2022 Volkswagen Taos is shown from the rear driving on an open road.

Which Has the Technology You Really Want?

As high-tech becomes more commonplace by the day, automakers are mired in a battle to keep pace. New tech features make for good selling points, and standard features such as decent to cutting-edge infotainment centers are at the forefront of interior ad campaigns. When you’re talking about instituting an upgrade on a production level, it generally takes a bit for one model to catch up to or surpass the competition.

The Jeep entry has a relative edge here, but that’s not surprising since this is a major upgrade cycle year for the Compass. On lower trims, an 8.4-inch infotainment screen comes standard. A larger 10.1-inch screen is available for all and standard on upper-crust trims. Also on the options list is a large 10.25-inch, thin-film transistor (TFT) digital gauge cluster, which displays driver-assist info such as adaptive cruise control. The 2022 Compass offers a fairly comprehensive package, including options for a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Alexa virtual assistant, and wireless charging.

The 2022 Taos borrows tech already utilized in other successful VW models, and much of it is similar to what the Compass offers. Features such as Bluetooth pairing, Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, and basically the same options mentioned as available for the Jeep are also on the table here. One exception is a premium 8-speaker BeatsAudio system only found on the Taos. By comparison, the infotainment screens are a bit smaller on the Taos at 6.5-inch and 8.0-inches, respectively.

Which One Has the Best Price?

The starting MSRP for the Compass and Taos is as follows:
Compass: Starts at $25,240 for the Sport trim
Taos: Starts at $22,995 for the S trim
The Compass offers more trims and options overall, but that comes at an inflated cost.

Which One Should You Buy?

If you consider the above and other factors such as a better standard warranty, more front and rear legroom, and rear cargo space, the 2022 Volkswagen Taos SUV appears to be the better choice – unless you’re a die-hard off-roader. The Taos is cheaper, gets better gas mileage, and has better exterior aesthetics. If recent VW sales are any indication, the Taos should be a welcome addition to their successful SUV line of vehicles.