After a bit of teasing, the Volkswagen Taos has been revealed for the United States, with a market launch set to take place later in the summer of 2021. Three trim levels will be offered – S, SE and SEL – with production of the SUV being handled by the carmaker’s Puebla, Mexico factory.

In terms of positioning, the Taos sits below the Tiguan in Volkswagen of America’s SUV line-up, and will compete in the compact SUV segment. According to the company, four million compact SUVs were sold in 2019 – around 24% of the market – making it one of the hottest segments in North America.

Dimensionally, the Taos measures 4,465 mm long, making it 236 mm shorter than the seven-seat Tiguan sold in the US that is 4,701 mm from nose to tail – the regular, five-seat Tiguan is 4,486 mm long. The Taos is also 1,841 mm wide and 1,636 mm tall, making it slightly wider (+2 mm) and shorter – height-wise – by 38 mm. As for the wheelbase, it spans 2,690 mm, which is less than the Tiguan’s 2,787 mm (seven-seater) or 2,677 mm (five-seater).

In the metal, the Taos looks like a scaled-down version of the Tiguan, but with some specific cues to set it apart from its larger sibling. At the front, the LED headlamps have a light signature reminiscent of the Atlas Cross Sport, although there is an illuminated light line that runs across the grille to attract more attention.

Meanwhile, the side intake elements on the bumper give the compact SUV a bolder look, while the lower intake gets a silver-coloured frame and is surrounded by a honeycomb mesh that is largely covered off.

Along the sides, the Taos shares similar lines and creases with Tiguan, but is differentitated by its squared-off wheel arches that give a nod to the Atlas. Around back, things appear more roundish compared to the Tiguan, with the Taos’ taillights being less angular in shape. The chrome exhaust trims are also placed higher up in the bumper, joined by an underguard, while the small model emblem makes its way to the base of the tailgate.

Inside, Volkswagen says its new model offers 2,817 litres of passenger space, which is just 45 litres less than the two-row Tiguan. There’s also 796 litres of boot space available, or 1,877 litres with the second row folded down. For humans in the front row, they have 1,018 mm of legroom, while those in the second row get 963 mm.

The cockpit design is also simple with clean lines across a horizontal dash that help divide the central touchscreen from the climate controls and flows seamlessly into the door inserts. Said touchscreen is linked to the MIB3 infotainment system with App-Connect, and is sized at eight inches from the SE trim onwards. Higher trims get a BeatsAudio sound system with eight speakers and 10-colour ambient lighting.

The kit list includes keyless engine start, optional Kessy keyless access, an eight-way powered driver seat, dual-zone Climatronic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a heated leatherette steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated side mirrors and heated washer nozzles. Two-tone seats are also standard, available with either base cloth or optional leatherette upholstery.

Curiously, Volkswagen offers the IQ.Drive suite of driver assistance technologies as an option for every Taos model. It is comprehensive at least, featuring forward collision warning with autonomous braking (Front Assist), blind spot monitor, lane keeping system (Lane Assist), adaptive cruise control with a stop and go feature, Travel Assist and Emergency Assist. High beam control (Light Assist), adaptive front-lighting system and Park Distance Control are also available.

For motivation, all Taos trims come with an EA211 1.5 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that is also used for the Jetta. Outputs are 158 hp and 249 Nm of torque, and an eight-speed automatic transmission is the default pairing if you want front-wheel drive. Spring for 4Motion all-wheel drive and a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox is used instead.