It’s got a certain way about it, Feng Shui if you will. Having nothing to do with Taoism, the Volkswagen Taos strikes the perfect balance between affordability, advancement, and relative roominess. It’s got a massive back seat and spacious cargo hold. It’s quite high in the hierarchy of fuel economy and has emergency braking.
It even has some pretty sporty handling. In the power department, you’re looking at 158 horsepower@5,500 rpm. On the cost side, you’ve got a cozy upper limit of $30,000. And when it comes to speed, we’re talking 0-60mph in 9.4 seconds and a top speed of 125mph.
Top it off with a turbo-charged engine delivering 184-pound feet of torque, and you’ve got some sizeable thrill. The VW Taos is impressive, but there’s some really solid competition out there. Dozens of similar models from different brands have been released.
Our favorite contenders include the Fiat 500x, the Hyundai Kona, and the Kia Seltos. Here are a dozen competing cars comparable to the VW Taos:
1. Fiat 500x
Structurally speaking, the 500x isn’t too different from the Taos, except for maybe the front. It’s just that it has less headroom and more power, and it comes standard with four-wheel drive. With performance, there isn’t too much of a disparity between the two.
Still, the 9-speed automatic transmission on the 500x makes for a quicker, more precise, and smoother shift. You can expect a window sticker price of just over $29,000, though the starting price stands at about $27,000. You have several different variations to choose from.
There’s the Fiat 500x sport, urban connect, urban cult, city sport, cross, and connect; among others. The basic member of the family, the Pop, accelerates at a rate of 0-60mph in 10.7 seconds.
The front end of the Taos isn’t just designed to look good. It makes the car more aerodynamic than its counterpart from Fiat. Don’t for one second think that the 500x is lacking in terms of practicality. it has airbags in the same places, traction control, and crash mitigating brakes.
Both cars have practical features like traction control, crash mitigating brakes, and airbags in the same places. This Fiat will prove to have an inferior airbag system that lacks smart features like the Taos. You’ll also find that the 500x doesn’t have a post-collision braking set-up, something which can’t be said for the Taos.
The 500x does prove to have one up in terms of design. Not only is it fitted with better cabin materials, but it also has an infotainment system that makes for a smooth user experience. In the Taos, you have hard plastic, which as you can imagine, misses the mark with the luxury feel. The infotainment system can take a while to get used to as well.
2. Hyundai Kona
The Hyundai Kona is in the same league as the Taos, and there are a few indicators in that regard. Efficiency in fuel, exterior sizes that are almost the same, and even the availability of all-wheel drive make them akin.
The Kona does have what seems to be a more bold or unusual design, but that isn’t a bad thing in an industry where brands copy off each other.
The standard version has a 2.4-liter base engine packing 147 horsepower@6,600 rpm. There’s also the sporty N Line and the Limited is equipped with a 195-horsepower turbo, 1.6 liter engine. The electric version, the Kona EV, gives you over 250 miles of range.
This model is notably cheaper, has better acceleration, and more advanced technological features. Hyundai’s offering is wider, longer, and has a bigger wheelbase. It also has more shoulder Room in the back and more leg room in the front.
Even though it’s slower than the Toas, the 2-liter I4 engine with 147 horsepower at 4,500 rpm gives it a run for its money. With cabin materials as basic as those of the Taos, the interior isn’t as edgy as the exterior.
3. Kia Seltos
Spacious and practical like the Taos, the Kia Seltos is another star among the subcompact SUVs of the world. There are many shared features between the two; features that were reserved for a luxury vehicle just a few years back. They both have heated, cooled, and ventilated seats as well as satellite radio.
They both drive lively, even though the Kia actually packs more push, with 175 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. A 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder builds up torque of 185 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm. That of course isn’t too far off from the 195 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm delivered by the Taos. Still, there’s just no doubting that the Kia propels much better.
The VW Taos doesn’t do too well when it comes to towing, in fact, it’s discouraged. The Kia Seltos, on the other hand, has a 1,500 lb limit, making it enough to tow a small-scale trailer. And for a more compact SUV to be that reliable is pretty impressive. This is especially when you consider that $23,000 is the cost starting point for this machine.
4. Toyota Corolla Cross
The price points are not so far apart. The infotainment options are alike. Even some of the comfort amenities can’t be told apart. From the dimensions to the performance, the Toyota Corolla Cross is truly at loggerheads with the VW Taos.
Consider the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Think about the 169 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque. Yes, this regular unleaded I4 engine comes out with less torque than the intercooler turbo unleaded Taos engine. Yes, it deals less torque, but it brings out more power at the end of the day.
Toyota went all out on the safety features for this one. All trims come standard with all the tools to keep you safe on the road. The safety features on the Taos depend on which version you choose. Automatic emergency braking, for example, only comes with the Taos SEL model.
It seems they were going for a Lexus UX or a RAV4 shape when designing the Corolla Cross. This is the very same shape that doesn’t just make it look bigger but makes for more passenger space as well. In fact, it turns out the Cross has more legroom and is generally bigger than the Taos.
5. Kia Sportage
What the Kia Sportage and the VW Taos share in common are orderly proportions and trim handling. You also have the option of all-wheel drive on both models, for those drivers that love to have full control.
At the base level, the Sportage comes with a 2.4-liter engine spewing out 181 horsepower. If you go for the turbo option, however, you get a decently rapid 240hs. A six-speed automatic transmission helps you shift through gears but one has to admit that the Taos does better in fuel economy.
6. Ford Bronco Sport 2022
In the spirit of a true SUV, the Ford Bronco Sport accommodates two mountain bikes and can take on any terrain. With a starting price of around $28,000, it’s definitely a costlier spend than the Taos. When you consider how it has more room and a higher towing capacity of 2,000 lbs, you can see why.
You have two engine options with the Bronco Sport, one is a 181 hp, 1.5 liters, 3 cylinder engine. The other is a 250-hp, 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine. With the Taos, there’s only one available engine, which has 4 cylinders. Transmission-wise, the Bronco Sport is strictly 8-speed, leaving the Taos with a point up for the 7 and 8-speed choices.
This car maxes out at 123 mph and gets to 0-60mph in just 8.6 seconds. It’s just as fuel-efficient as VW’s Taos and handles just as well. Decisively straight angles on the outside bring out that sport and survival element. Its comfortable interior has little crevices to store essentials, combining comfort and practicality.
7. Mazda CX-5
Going for at least $26,000, the Mazda CX-5 simply had to make the list. It has to be a 2.5-liter inline-gas 4 engine with 6-speed transmission. That same engine that’s responsible for 187hp@6000rpm and 186lb-ft; that must be it. Maybe it’s the standard all-wheel drive or the 2,000 lbs towing capacity.
Whatever it is, there’s something about the CX-5. Take into account the whiplash protection system that’s activated during rear-end collisions. Safety features like blind-spot warning, rear cross oath warning, and lane departure systems come standard with the CX-5. You’ll need to pay a bit more for these on the VW Taos, however.
When discussing design, the CX-5 is worthy to be showered with praise. Memory seats, which the Taos doesn’t have, mean that even the longest of trips can feel like a breeze. A bigger cargo area, which is bigger than that of the Taos in every way, makes for ease of storage.
8. 2022 Jeep Compass
Maybe you’re big on the size aspect of subcompact SUVs. You should know it’s a bit more of a struggle to park this the 2022 Jeep Compass than it is the Taos. On the inside, the already big backseat area is dwarfed by what you’ll find in the Jeep. I’m the case of leg room and headroom though, there isn’t too much separating the two.
At a recommended price of almost $27,000, the Jeep is definitely the bigger buy. With a 2.4 liter, 4 cylinder engine kicking out nearly 10 more horsepower than its VW counterparts, there’s no complaining. Accelerating to 0-60mph will take the Jeep 8.4 seconds. It can reach a top speed of 124mph not too long after that.
As big as it looks, it just doesn’t have as much cargo space as the Taos. True, the Jeep is wider, but the Taos is longer. Regardless, both these five-seaters take equal space when it’s time to park. When looking at the utility side of things, you can pack just as many people and items in the Jeep as you can in the VW.
9. Kia Soul
One of the more reasonable cars on this list, the Kia Soul comes at a price tag starting from $20,000. The Soul and the Taos resemble each other by coming standard with front-wheel drives. They also come complete with electronic stability systems, traction control, and four-wheel antilock brakes.
Unless you’re going for the turbo trim, you’re going to get a 2-liter naturally aspirated inline-4 motor. The result is a 0-60mph time of 8 seconds. You get that kind of output because of 147hp and 132lb-ft of torque. While this isn’t as great as the output from the Taos, it’s not too bad for an SUV this small.
10. Subaru Crosstek
Typical of a Subaru car, the Crosstek makes driving through the rockiest of roads seem like child’s play. Products of two different families, the Crosstek and the Taos are 5-seater machines that perform fairly the same. Like many of the models on the list though, the Crosstek simply doesn’t match the spaciousness of the Taos.
With a reserve price that’s a few hundred dollars cheaper than the Taos, this car means business. You can take the basic 152-hp, 2.0 liter, 4 cylinder engine. For a bit more of a kick, you’re free to go for the 182-hp, 2.5 liters, 4-cylinder engine.
A continuously variable manual transmission and standard all-wheel drive allow the more sporty drivers to have some fun.
The car features an in-your-face grille and stunning gunmetal finish accents on the body. On the inside, the upholstery is water-repellant, and there are yellow accents and stitching to make it pop a little. For an outdoorsy car, it sure is smooth and certainly not as visually intimidating as its VW league-mate.
11. Mazda CX-30
At about $1000 less than the VW Taos, you can get a car that’s a cut above when classiness is in question. With a unique and tasteful exterior, acrobatic handling, and the available turbo option; it’s really worth considering. Clocking 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds and with a top speed of 126mph, it’s slightly slower than the Taos.
While the two vehicles have some distinct features, they do share a few; especially when it comes to safety. Rearview cameras, lane departure warning systems, and rear cross path warnings are just a few. They even both have daytime running lights to guarantee visibility 24/7.
Mechanically, the CX-30 can be equipped with 3 different engines. You either pick the regular unleaded I-4, the inter-cooled turbo regular, or the unleaded I-4. These 3 engines pump out 186hp@6000rpm, 277hp@5000rpm, and 155hp@6000rpm respectively.
A displacement of either 2.L/152 or 2.0L/122 is yours for the choosing. Coming only as a 4-wheel drive, you have two 6-speed transmissions that you can go for. The only difference is one has paddle shifters and one doesn’t.
If we’re talking torque, there’s a 186ft-lb@4000rpm, 310ft-lb@2000rpm, and 150ft-lb@4000rpm. With the Taos, you have no choice but to deal with 184hp@1750rpm.
The CX-30 reaches 0-60mph in 7.9 seconds and can reach speeds of up to 135mph. Granted, the Taos is more efficient, accelerates, and handles better. Be that as it may, what it lacks in performance, it makes up for in polished looks and a well-mannered ride.
12. Ford EcoSport
Another one ringing in at a cost of $1000 less than the Taos, the five-seater EcoSport from Ford makes for fierce competition. Under the hood, you’ll find a 166hp, 2.0 liter, 4 cylinder engine, which makes it a little more powerful than the Taos.
The car has a 6-speed automatic transmission, comes as a four-wheel drive, and has a serious towing capacity of up to 2000lb. Qualifying it as a decent alternative to the Taos, this Ford has some features familiar to its VW competitor.
Both transmissions come with dual shift mode, both have a tire pressure monitor, and both have smart device integration. Still, it’s things like the WiFi hotspot, remote engine start option, and optional bucket seats that distinguish it.
The heart of this car is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Operating by way of a 6-speed automatic transmission, the car also comes in a turbocharged version which clocks in a potent 250hp. This makes it faster than the Subaru Crosstek, but the Taos still has more torque.
As with most Fords, the EcoSport has some clean handling. For a car as tall, the steering is both direct and sharp. Though it has the word ‘sport’ in its name, the car actually drives better at lower speeds. It’s worth noting that the diesel version of the car gives a more robust, balanced drive than the petrol variants.
There are different textures and plastic grains that come together in their design. The upholstery isn’t exactly top-tier, especially with the lack of padding in the seats. This makes it just about as comfortable and luxurious as the Taos, which isn’t very much.
Weighing in at 3000lb, it takes a lot to get the EcoSport moving. 0-60mph takes about 10 seconds and its top speed is 119mph. This makes it slightly slower than the VW. Regardless, the car is easy to maneuver, practical for its size, and is driver-centric and performance-oriented.