In-depth reviews

Skoda Karoq SUV review

“The Skoda Karoq is a fantastic all-round family SUV with lots of useful features”

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.1 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Price
£38,670 - £49,190

Pros

  • Handy VarioFlex rear seats
  • Ideal for families
  • Fun to drive

Cons

  • 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.

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For 2022, the Skoda Karoq has been treated to a mid-life refresh, although only the eagle-eyed are likely to spot the slimmer headlamps (now available with Matrix LED technology for the first time) and redesigned tail lamps. There’s also a new roof spoiler, plus new wheel and paint colour choices. Inside, there’s now the option of vegan upholstery and trim that’s made from recycled materials, and an eight-inch driver’s display now comes as standard, replacing traditional dials. The differences aren’t vast, so it’s probably not worth existing Karoq owners immediately looking to upgrade.

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.

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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 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. A hybrid SUV like the Ford Kuga or Hyundai Tucson will be cheaper in tax if that’s important to you, though. There’s also a 2.0-litre TSI petrol range-topper, but we don’t expect this to be a big-seller in the UK.

The most economical diesel is the 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.

Skoda has used the facelift to slim down the range, from six trim levels down to three. SE Drive kicks off the new line-up, with rear parking sensors, cruise control, auto LED headlights and wipers, two-zone climate control, Android Auto and wired Apple CarPlay. Buyers also get LED rear lights with an animation when unlocking the car and indicating. Stepping up to SE L adds 18-inch alloy wheels, the VarioFlex seats, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry, a rear-view camera and heaters for the steering wheel and front seats.

SportLine is the top trim, with black trim and darkened headlights giving it a more menacing look. It also gets a panoramic sunroof, sporty seats, a powered tailgate and Matrix LED headlights. Previously, Skoda has offered the Karoq in luxurious Edition and rugged Scout versions, but these have been dropped from the latest line-up.

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 18th overall in our 2022 Driver Power survey, particularly impressing owners with its comfort, build quality and practicality.

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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