2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SEL 1.5T S-AWC vs. 2022 Volkswagen Taos 1.5 SEL: Battle of the off-brand baby SUVs.

This week: Volkswagen Taos

Price: $33,080 as tested. The only option is $395 for paint that looks like shiny primer gray. Why?

Conventional wisdom: Motor Trend liked the “unexpectedly spacious interior, comfy, easy driving manners, great highway fuel economy,” but not that it’s “insultingly overpriced,” suffers “slow acceleration, lacks standard driver aids.”

Marketer’s pitch: “The fun, compact SUV.”

Reality: Well, it’s compact.

Kids, I’m going to have to see you after class: It definitely looks as if Mitsubishi and Volkswagen are copying off each other in class with these models. Two SELs? Two 1.5-liter engines? It’s uncanny.

What’s new: The Taos is brand new for 2022, sort of replacing the Golf SportWagen-Alltrack, though it met its demise way back in 2019.

» READ MORE: 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a leap forward for carmaker

Up to speed: If you’re not in a hurry, the Taos might suit you. The four-cylinder creates 158 horsepower, enough to bring it to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, according to Motor Trend. It’s disappointing, but it does match last week’s Mitsubishi. Again with the sharing homework.

Still, the Taos feels peppy enough just tooling around, feeling as if the idle is set high, so it can zip to 30 or so quickly. After that, though, all bets are off for straight-line acceleration, although it’s not too bad to live with over hill and dale.

Shifty: The 8-speed automatic transmission does give it something to stand out from the Eclipse Cross, which has a CVT. Performance is pretty nice, with a shifter to row through the gears or an automatic mode that works fine.

On the road: The Taos holds its own when the road gets windy, but it’s nothing like really fun and certainly not up to Volkswagen’s usual standards. The vehicle does well on highways, which is more than could be said about the Eclipse Cross.

Sport mode does make the ride a little more fun. But the front-wheel-drive Taos wants to turn harder than you may wish, as front-drivers do. Yes, it’s a shame that it costs so much for the front-wheel-drive version.

Regular Drive mode can feel a little choppy now and then when pulling out from a stop.

Driver’s Seat: The Taos feels like a Volkswagen — a very cheap Volkswagen. “Tin can” would be the best metaphor for the little SUV.

The seat, though, is comfy enough and provides some support, as well. Headroom up front is amazing, as the Taos feels as if it were built in a Cadillac ambulance factory.

» READ MORE: An electrified vacation in the Volkswagen ID.4

Friends and stuff: The rear seat offers commodious space, with excellent legroom and headroom and very good foot room. The middle-seat passenger will have sore knees, both from banging them into the console and keeping them up on the hump. But the seat itself is quite nice for the price point.

Cargo space is 27.9 with the rear seat up and 65.9 when it’s folded. (That drops about 5% in the all-wheel-drive model.)

Play some tunes: Volkswagens are known for easy-to-operate infotainment systems, and this was almost no exception. Dials control volume and tuning, although this unit featured a more complicated Sirius setup and I couldn’t seem to make the dial roll through the stations. I first had to pick a genre, but sadly I’m so open-minded that my tastes run through more than one.

The Taos also sported the fancy new USB-C connectors, which are designed to provide steady income for connector makers, and whom I refuse to kowtow to. So I was stuck with Bluetooth, and this Volkswagen and my recent Atlas test both had troublesome connection issues. If the world wants me to stop hating technology, it’s doing a poor job of getting me on board.

Sound from the system, when I could get it to play, was pretty good, about an A-.

Keeping warm and cool: At least some functions remain consistent. Dials control temperature and fan speed, and easy-to-read buttons control source and seat heating.

Night shift: The Taos sees well by night. A stuck map light button seemed to say “Volkswagen,” even though I managed to free it.

Fuel economy: The Taos trip odometer has saved up the last 800 miles of driving, and the vehicle had been averaging 32 mpg, a very respectable number.

Where it’s built: Puebla, Mexico

How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the Taos’ reliability to be a 2 out of 5.

In the end: I couldn’t believe the fleet arranged my schedule with these two models; I’d have dug hard through my notes to see that they’re both new and competitive.

Though Mitsubishi has made a pretty impressive showing with the Eclipse Cross, the Taos just seemed a whole lot easier to live with. I was thinking I’d send readers straight to Subaru or the Hyundai Kona, but after reviewing those columns, I realized the Taos has plenty of room, comfort, and economy, and may be worth consideration.