Road Test Review – 2024 Volkswagen Taos SEL – Has VW Found Gold In The CUV Segment?

The Volkswagen Taos was a gamble for Volkswagen when it first hit the market a short while ago. The Taos was entering new territory for VW in the CUV wars and expectations were high especially for its long-term success at attracting younger buyers to the brand while also blending many of the things that buyers liked about the Golf and Tiguan into one unified package. The Taos has so far met VW’s expectations in terms of sales and the company is releasing light updates for 2024 that attempt to add zest to the urban-focused model. Is it all enough to sustain the Tao’s sales momentum?


Light Updates Keep Taos Fresh

The updates VW did to the Taos for 2024 are light and at first glance, the Taos appears to still not break too much ground in a segment swarming with contenders with the exterior styling and its quirky angles being retained. However, a new SE Black trim makes its appearance for the new model year. This model takes the SE and gives it extra darkened accents with the interior getting pinches of blue accent trim. The rest of the lineup gets a light tune-up with the base S now getting VW’s IQ.Drive adaptive cruise control technology while the SE gets dual-zone climate control.

Step up to the range-topping SEL like our example and you’ll discover that the only major update of significance is minor revisions to the exterior styling. However, it will take a skilled eye (and perhaps a magnifying glass) to spot all the small changes Volkswagen did to this trim level since it certainly appears identical to the outgoing SEL at first glance. While these changes are welcome, it also highlights the fact that the Taos is facing competition from more models that have also undergone their fair share of updates and revisions. They include the revamped Hyundai Kona as well as the Dodge Hornet with both models offering better technology and better performance respectively when compared to the tiny VW.


Taos Interior Still Follows The Motions

Slip inside the interior of the Taos and you’ll see that not much has changed here either. It’s still a clean design and while material quality is lower than some other CUVs out there, it does mimic the basic core design that we have seen in other VW models the past few years. All Taos models get a fully digital instrument cluster standard and two-tone cloth seats on the base S. Buyers that move up to either an SE or an SEL like our tester see these trims swap out the cloth seats for leatherette or real leather seating. Our tester had the pure leather thrones and while the bolstering is pretty good, we found the seats to be too firm for long-distance driving.

The rest of the cabin is largely what you would expect in the broader segment with the backseats offering acceptable amounts of room for passengers. The lone exception is headroom with the sunroof in our tester eating some space in that particular department for taller occupants. When the rear seats are not hauling people, they can be folded down to enhance cargo space to 66 cubic feet. That’s best anyway since space with the seats up is a modest 28 cubic feet of space.

The Taos is also no slouch in the technology department either with base models getting a 6.5-inch infotainment system. Higher trims (including SEL models like our test vehicle) get access to a bigger 8.0-inch version. The bigger screen in our opinion is more user-friendly than the 6.5-inch unit and we also liked the Beats premium audio system which made up for the lousy wireless phone charging pad. All of these features make the Taos an upscale place to spend time in, but with the aforementioned Hyundai Kona getting a bigger infotainment screen and more tech, it’s becoming harder for the Taos to stand out against rivals when it comes to interior appointments.


Two Flavors Of Performance For Any Taste

Performance for the 2024 Volkswagen Taos continues to come from a 158-horsepower, 1.5-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder which is standard across the entire lineup. The transmission on the other hand will depend on what drive configuration you picked with front-wheel drive models getting an eight-speed automatic while 4Motion (AWD) models like our tester get a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

The engine is a willing partner in urban commuting but it will also not set the world on fire with its driving manners either. There’s plenty of low-end torque on hand, but the power quickly fizzles out as you climb higher up the rev band with the seven-speed in our tester experiencing occasional bouts of gear-hunting as it tried to find the proper gear especially in freeway driving. Handling is secure and composed but it’s a far cry from the sprightly handling that you can find in a GTI or even the Tiguan.

The EPA rates the front-wheel drive Taos at 28/36/31 mpg in city/freeway/combined driving which is on par with others in its segment. Go for all-wheel drive like our example and fuel economy dips to 24/32/27 mpg in the same categories. VW has no plans to offer a hybrid version of the Taos for now and it will be interesting to see if that’s a wise decision in the long run since hybrid tech is slowly entering its slice of the broader CUV segment.


Value Quotient

Pricing for the 2024 Volkswagen Taos starts at $25,420 for the base S model which is up slightly when compared to the 2023 model and includes the $1,425 destination charge. The SE meanwhile starts at $29,590 for a front-wheel-drive model with AWD adding $1,450 to the price of an S or SE Taos. Our range-topping SEL model gets AWD standard and that helped it get a starting MSRP of $34,940. A light sprinkling of options helped raise the price to a final as-tested total of $35,335.

That’s in the upper reaches of the CUV segment and makes the Taos more of a premium offering when configured as an SEL model. If we had our buying dollar in the race, we would actually go for the mid-grade SE model. That trim has a lower price of entry and allows owners to add more equipment especially if they might want to avoid the extra $1,450 charge the AWD system brings. When viewed by the sum of its parts, the 2024 Volkswagen Taos still has plenty of things to offer buyers. However, the competition in its segment is continuing to heat up and with rivals either offering more performance or technology, we hope that VW will eventually make a more substantial update soon to help keep the Taos from falling behind the sales race.

Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as

Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.