The Volkswagen Taos, a subcompact SUV with a roomy interior, turbocharged engine, and solid fuel economy rating, is a relatively new offering that first debuted for the 2022 model year. Given how new it is, it’s not surprising that the 2023 Volkswagen Taos hasn’t undergone any major design changes to differentiate it from the debut model. There are a few minor tweaks for some trim levels: the S trim now has 18-inch wheels rather than 17-inch ones if you opt for all-wheel drive, and the top-level SEL trim now comes standard with a panoramic sunroof. But the engine is the same, the body styling is the same, and the infotainment system––already a responsive and well-rounded interface––is essentially unchanged from 2022.
However, there is one major difference between the 2022 Taos and the 2023 Taos: several driver assistance features that used to be either optional or only standard on higher trim levels are now standard across the board. This means cutting-edge driver-assist tech will be standard fare on every 2023 Taos sold, from the luxurious SEL down to the basic S trim. Let’s take a deep dive, not only into the three features that are now standard on the Taos but also into some of the other driver-assist technologies this little SUV offers.
#1 – Front Assist
Volkswagen Front Assist may sound like a single feature, but it actually consists of multiple features that work together to mitigate forward collisions or even prevent them altogether. The first piece of the puzzle is Forward Collision Warning. This system uses sensors to detect other vehicles or other obstacles in front of you and is designed to look for potential front-end collisions. Pedestrian Monitoring works in tandem with Forward Collision Warning, searching not for obstacles and vehicles that would be a danger to the driver but for pedestrians who might be in danger themselves. If either system senses an imminent collision, it uses both visual and audio signals to warn the driver to take action.
If the driver fails to take action or doesn’t brake soon enough or hard enough, then Automatic Emergency Braking can step in. If there’s still time before a crash is imminent, then the system can pump the brakes to warn the driver of the potential danger. If there isn’t time, the system can automatically brake to slow or stop the vehicle, mitigating or avoiding the impact. If the driver is applying the brakes too lightly to avoid a forward collision, the system can also increase the brake pressure automatically through a system called Braking Support.
#2 – Blind Spot Monitor
Changing lanes on the freeway can be dangerous since everyone is moving at high speeds, and every vehicle has a blind spot. Blind Spot Monitor uses two radar sensors in the rear of the Taos to monitor traffic around you. Instead of having to wonder whether or not a vehicle is in your blind spot or take your eyes off the road in front of you to turn around and look, you can check a conveniently-placed LED symbol on your side view mirror. If the system detects a vehicle in your blind spot, the symbol will light up, so you know not to change lanes. If you miss this warning and turn on your turn signal while your blind spot is occupied, the LED symbol will flash to bring your attention to the situation.
While Blind Spot Monitor is now standard across all trims of the 2023 Taos, it can be combined with the available Lane Assist feature (which is standard on the SE trim and up) for an even greater effect. In addition to the measures above, vehicles equipped with Lane Assist will automatically countersteer and vibrate the steering wheel to prevent the Taos from switching lanes when another vehicle is in its blind spot.
#3 – Rear Traffic Alert
Another situation where it can be difficult to be fully aware of all the other vehicles around you is when backing out of a parking spot. That’s where Rear Traffic Alert comes into play. This system uses rear-facing radar to give you a 180-degree view of what’s behind you so you can be aware of what’s going on as you drive in reverse. Rear Traffic Alert will provide visual and audio warnings if it detects that you might be about to collide with an approaching vehicle. If you do not react to the warnings in time, it will automatically apply the brakes. This system is automatically activated whenever you put the Taos into reverse.
Other Standard Safety Features
Plenty of other safety features have been standard on the Taos from day one, allowing you to drive confidently. While the Taos is loaded with features to help you avoid a collision altogether, the vehicle is prepared to keep you safe if the worst does happen. The body of the Taos is crafted to keep the driver and passengers safe in the case of a crash, with front and rear crumple zones that can absorb energy and a tough safety cage that protects everyone riding inside. The Volkswagen Intelligent Crash Response System reacts to any collision that deploys the airbags by automatically turning off the fuel pump, unlocking the doors, and activating the hazard lights. An Automatic Post-Collision Braking System will also kick in to make sure that the car is safely brought to a stop to prevent further damage.
Of course, it’s always better to avoid accidents in the first place. That’s why the Taos is equipped with several stability-enhancing systems designed to keep you in full control of the vehicle at all times, even under adverse conditions. Electronic Brake Force Distribution works to distribute stopping power appropriately during a hard-braking situation. Electronic Stability Control applies corrective forces to the wheels when they aren’t getting proper traction and adjusts the engine’s throttle to maintain balance and control, even during bad driving conditions.
Available Driver-Assist Features
While many driver-assist features are standard for the 2023 Taos, a few don’t come standard on the base S trim. Adaptive Cruise Control allows you to maintain a set distance behind the vehicle in front of you rather than just a set speed, so you can rely on cruise control even as traffic slows down and speeds back up. Lane Assist uses cameras to recognize lane markings and automatically adjusts to keep you from drifting out of your lane. Emergency Assist monitors your attentiveness by checking your hands on the steering wheel. If it does not sense any inputs, several warnings will go off, and the system will automatically slow the vehicle to a gradual stop. All of these driver-assist features come standard on the Taos SE and SEL trims and are available on the S trim if you select the IQ.DRIVE S Package.
Travel With Confidence
While the 2023 Taos looks very similar to the previous year’s model, the expanded access to driver-assist features is a big upgrade. Many drivers don’t have the means to upgrade to higher trim levels when shopping for cars, so offering these advanced features as standard fare across the board makes them much more accessible. While some desirable features are still extra-cost options, the well-rounded suite of standard tech on the 2023 Taos is enough to let any driver travel with confidence, knowing that Volkswagen has their back on the road.