|Cargo (rear/full cu.ft.)
|Fuel Economy (city/hwy mpg)
Subcompact SUVs provide drivers with excellent on-road (and sometimes off-road) mobility without the hefty price tags of their larger division models. The benefit to this is that drivers get excellent range and fuel economy out of a utilitarian and, oftentimes, sporty vehicle. Two subcompacts in particular—the Volkswagen Taos and Toyota Corolla Cross—aim to be at the top of the segment food chain in features, technology, performance, and capacity. But how well do they measure up against one another? What can you expect when squaring these two popular subcompact models, the 2023 Volkswagen Taos vs 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross?
Well, for 2023, the Toyota Corolla Cross hasn't received much in the way of new features outside of the new hybrid variant. The standard Cross has only received an updated infotainment display at eight inches, bringing it closer in line to the competitive offerings from its rival, the Volkswagen Taos. Beyond that, the Corolla Cross received no other noteworthy features for the model year. It's available in three trims: L, LE, and XLE.
The 2023 Volkswagen Taos has received a standard equipment upgrade in the form of enhanced safety features for each of its trims—the S, SE, and SEL. You now get autonomous emergency braking assistance, hill start assist, lane keeping assistance, blind spot monitoring, and rear traffic alert as standard safety features across the entire trim lineup. This standard feature update adds to the robust safety suite already present in the Volkswagen Taos, which helped it become rated the Best City SUV for 2022 from the Parents Best Family Cars shopping guide.[c] All new 18-inch wheels have also been added to the all-wheel drive version of the S trim, while the SEL now comes standard with a panoramic sunroof.
Both the 2023 Corolla Cross and 2023 Taos are very performance-rich subcompact SUVs. The Corolla Cross is equipped with a standard 2.0L inline four-cylinder that makes up to 169 hp at 151 lb-ft of torque; this engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission and is available in either a front-wheel or all-wheel drive configuration. Those are impressive base stats for the Corolla Cross, especially when combined with its tuned suspension and stability on the road.
The 2023 Taos, however, goes in a completely different direction. The Taos is powered by a 1.5L turbocharged inline four-cylinder that makes 158 hp at 184 lb-ft of torque. While the initial horsepower advantage may slightly reside with the Corolla Cross, the reality is that the Taos grants you nearly 20% more torque, which makes a massive difference in acceleration, performance responsiveness, and getting off the line.
The Taos is also available in front-wheel drive or the Volkswagen-patented 4Motion all-wheel drive, which provides some of the smoothest handling and traversal capabilities available in the segment thanks to the drive modes. With the 4Motion, you can access the Snow, On-Road, Off-Road, and Off-Road Custom modes. Even better yet, the Taos is highly responsive thanks to the optional eight-speed automatic transmission or the seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The Taos also manages to get the advantage in the 2023 Volkswagen vs 2023 Toyota subcompact match-up ever-so-slightly when you compare the fuel economy for both vehicles. The Corolla Cross has impressive numbers on its base model, topping out at up to 31 MPG in the city and up to 33 MPG on the highway. The Taos, however, manages to top out at 28 MPG in the city and up to 36 MPG on the highway.[b] What this means is that for long highway, freeway, or road trip travel—essentially, anything outside of stop-and-go traffic and urban corridors—you're getting a far better overall fuel economy out of the Taos over the Corolla Cross.
Interior features and capacity have always been important features for SUVs, especially those aimed at small or starter families like the Volkswagen Taos and Corolla Cross. Both vehicles come with the gamut of standard and expected amenities, such as armrests, multiple storage compartments throughout the cabin, and power drive seats, windows, and locks. Other amenities like a sunroof, leather seats, and ambient lighting help add personality to both vehicles. However, where they differ is in their total capacity.
In all-wheel drive, the Toyota Corolla Cross tops out with a max of 24.3 cu.ft. of cargo volume behind the second row. If you opt to fold the second row down, you get up to 65.5 cu.ft. of additional cargo volume, which is excellent for carting equipment, luggage, hardware, furniture, or other large belongings. But when compared to the Volkswagen Taos, even though both can seat up to five people, you get slightly more space to work with inside the Taos.
The all-wheel drive version of the Volkswagen Taos affords you up to approximately 28 cu.ft. of cargo volume behind the second row, which is several more cubic feet than you get with the Corolla Cross. What's more, you get nearly 66 cu.ft. of space with the second row folded, so there is slightly more room for storage and total interior cargo volume with the Volkswagen Taos. For those who enjoy making use of every inch of their vehicle's cabin, the Taos gives just a few more cubic feet to work with compared to the Cross.
Technology is one of the more prominent features that has swept over the auto market. It's an important component, too, because it affects everything from performance and tuning to over-the-air updates, safety, and infotainment. There's no shortage of high-end technology available in both the Toyota Corolla Cross and Volkswagen Taos, but which one offers the better suite? Well, in the Taos vs Cross showdown, the Taos has a few tricks up its sleeve that enable it to take a clear advantage over the Cross.
Keep in mind that Toyota's subcompact is no slouch. The Corolla Cross comes packed with all of the standard amenities you could ask for out of a vehicle in the segment, from an 8.0-inch HD touchscreen with the availability of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the inclusion of SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Toyota's remote-connected services suite. You have a lot of tech embedded into the experience of the Corolla Cross, including the Safety Connect and the Toyota Safety Sense, which features pre-collision systems, automatic braking, lane departure alerts, and hill start assists.
The Volkswagen Taos matches and raises the Corolla Cross in the tech department. While it comes standard with an available 8.0-inch HD touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, along with HD radio, it also comes with an available 10.25-inch HD customizable driver information display cluster, as well as the inclusion of App Connect for wireless app services and smartphone integration. Even better yet is that the Taos includes standard safety features like blind spot monitoring across its entire trim line, whereas that feature is only available on the topmost trim of the Corolla Cross.
Another neat feature exclusive to the Volkswagen Taos is the inclusion of IQ.Drive. This intelligent semi-autonomous driving mechanism adds an extra layer of convenience and safety to the Volkswagen Taos's tech lineup. This hands-on suite offers a compilation of driving assists that ties into the adaptive cruise control, with lane centering, lane keeping, emergency assist, rear traffic alert, and travel assist so that you can relax and drive with the semi-autonomous IQ.Drive, providing you with a more stress-free driving experience compared to competitors. It's an excellent bit of tech that helps to definitively separate the 2023 Taos from the 2023 Corolla Cross while also helping the Taos eclipse its competitors with its tech-rich offerings.