Volkswagen’s foray into the sub-compact crossover market lands in a weird place. As we discussed when Wolfsburg announced pricing, it splits the difference in size between a true subcompact like a Kia Seltos and a compact like a Toyota RAV4. VW’s new fuel economy numbers have now been announced, and while the Taos is quite miserly in highway driving, city and combined ratings are also kind of in-between.
The Taos comes in two drivetrain flavors, but both are equipped with a 1.5-liter Miller cycle four-cylinder brewing up 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It takes regular fuel and the difference in thirstiness depends on the drivetrain, with the front-drive version getting 28 mpg city, 36 highway, and 31 combined via an eight-speed automatic. Estimates for the all-wheel-drive variant, which is mated with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, are 25 mpg in the city, 32 highway, and 28 combined.
Going head-to-head against the other new kid on the block, the Kia Seltos, the Taos does slightly worse in city driving but better on the highway. The Seltos‘ 29 mpg city and 34 highway end up evening out, matching the Taos in combined driving with a rating of 31 mpg. The AWD Kia follows suit, getting 27 around town, 31 on the highway, and 29 combined. However, if you can sacrifice some fuel economy for a bit more performance, a 175-horsepower Seltos Turbo matches the Taos’ 25 mpg city figure while returning 30 on the open road and 27 combined.
Comparing it to the gold standard of crossovers in terms of sales, the Toyota RAV4, the Taos does slightly better overall. The front-drive Toyota ticks the same 28 mpg in urban driving, but gets one mpg less than the Taos otherwise, returning 35 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined. According to the EPA, an AWD RAV4 betters the Taos in both city on all counts, with a 27/34/30 rating. We were able to match the EPA’s rating with our own test of a TRD Off-Road RAV4 in our own tests last year.
So the upshot seems to be, if you need a somewhat large but not too large crossover and do the majority of your driving on the highway, the Taos will do quite nicely, though a RAV4 might be even better. If you commute primarily in the city, there are better choices for fuel savings.