Skoda Karoq SUV review
“The Skoda Karoq is a fantastic all-round family SUV with lots of useful features”
- Handy VarioFlex rear seats
- Ideal for families
- Fun to drive
- Short warranty
- Conservative interior
- Less character than Yeti
The Skoda Karoq was launched after the brilliant Skoda Kodiaq, so it had a lot to live up to. While it has a smaller boot and two fewer seats than the Kodiaq, the Karoq is perhaps an even better family car for most people because it’s more affordable and just as impressive in most areas.
While the Karoq isn’t as characterful as the Skoda Yeti it replaced, it’s still a great option for families looking for a roomy car that’s good to drive, practical and cheap to run. Its rivals include the Ford Kuga, Peugeot 3008, Mazda CX-5 and Nissan Qashqai.
The Karoq also shares a lot with the SEAT Ateca, which is one of its closest rivals – and it’s no wonder, given both cars have near-identical engines and other shared parts as part of the Volkswagen Group. The SEAT is designed to be a bit more sporty to drive, while the Skoda is more comfortable.
The Skoda is also highly practical, in part thanks to clever features such as the VarioFlex rear seats. These mean you can slide the bench back and forth to move between 479 to 588 litres of boot space, increasing rear legroom as the boot space decreases and vice versa. It’s one of the roomiest cars in its class as a result and really versatile.
The tall roofline means there’s lots of headroom, and those sliding seats mean you can open up plenty of legroom even for adult passengers. The front seats are just as good for space, with lots of adjustment possible and a comfortable driving position.
The dash is neatly designed and easy to use, and features all the modern tech you need, such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on the central touchscreen. The design isn’t as distinctive or modern-looking as the Peugeot 3008’s ‘i-Cockpit’, but you can at least get a digital display instead of dials in the Skoda to match the Peugeot’s functionality.
Engine choice shouldn’t be an issue, whether you want a petrol or diesel. The former is covered by a 1.0-litre with 109bhp or a 1.5-litre TSI with 148bhp, both of which can return over 40mpg and have CO2 emissions from 133-152/km that shouldn't be too much of a hurdle for company-car buyers.
The most economical diesel is the 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI with front-wheel drive, which can manage more than 55mpg with a manual gearbox. We reckon the 1.5-litre TSI petrol is the most appealing all-rounder, undercutting the 2.0-litre diesel on price, despite having the same amount of power.
Out on the road, the Karoq has softer suspension than the Ateca, providing it with a better ride quality, but without losing too much composure. This should be a well judged compromise for families, who are likely to appreciate a smooth ride more than high-speed precision.
There are a number of trim levels to choose from, with even the entry-level Karoq SE very well equipped with features such as 17-inch alloy wheels, DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and dual-zone climate control. SE Drive was added to the range in 2020 and includes new alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, sat nav and LED ambient interior lighting. Stepping up to SE L adds the VarioFlex seats, front and rear parking sensors, an Amundsen sat nav with an eight-inch screen, a reversing camera, LED headlights and Smartlink.
While that roster should be enough to satisfy most, you can push the boat out and choose the Edition range-topper with 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, a 9.2-inch Columbus infotainment system and extra active safety features. This pushes the Karoq into Kodiaq territory, though, so the SE, SE Drive and SE L trims represent better value. In late 2018 Skoda added the Karoq Scout and Karoq Sportline to the range, each with individual styling, wheels and interior themes designed to give customers a more rugged (Scout) or sportier (Sportline) car than the standard Karoq. The Scout trim has now been discontinued, but Sportline is still available, with black exterior trim, unique alloy wheels, a sports steering wheel and upgraded seats.
Families will be reassured that the Skoda Karoq was awarded the full five-star score for crash safety by Euro NCAP in late 2017. It’s fitted with an impressive roster of safety equipment and actually beat the scores of the larger Skoda Kodiaq. The Karoq also came an impressive 12th overall in our 2021 Driver Power survey, particularly impressing owners with its comfort, build quality and practicality.