Skoda Kodiaq SUV review
“The Skoda Kodiaq offers seven seats, excellent value for money and a decent driving experience”
- Smart styling
- Spacious and practical
- Decent to drive
- Seven seats cost extra
- Some safety systems not standard
- Better engines and trims expensive
The Skoda Kodiaq is the brand’s largest SUV, available with up to seven seats, that competes with the likes of the Peugeot 5008, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace. It shares a lot of parts with the Tiguan and the SEAT Tarraco.
While the Peugeot 5008 runs it close, the Kodiaq has a price advantage where the competition is concerned, particularly given its seven-seat status. True, you’ll need to spec this on entry-level SE trim (it’s standard on all other trims), but even with the seven-seat upgrade taken into account, the Kodiaq remains a seven-seater SUV you can have on your driveway for under £30,000.
It’s more than just a value proposition, though. The Kodiaq is actually rather involving to drive, for instance, with accurate steering, a decent gearbox and well judged suspension. For keen drivers, it’s a sharper choice than the Peugeot 5008 or Hyundai Santa Fe , as long as you avoid the Sportline version, with huge 20-inch wheels that spoil its ride. It also has a loftier driving position than many SUVs, which has you sitting in a pleasingly upright manner and with a good view out.
Build quality is generally strong and although there are one or two rougher edges in places, the overall impression is of a well engineered car. Interior space in the first two rows is excellent, and while the rear two seats are best reserved for children or adults on short trips, they’re an excellent addition nonetheless. Add a vast boot (with the rearmost seats dropped) and the Kodiaq’s family-friendly credentials are clear to see.
Except for the entry-level 1.5-litre petrol, all of the Kodiaq’s engines are 2.0 litres in size. A 187bhp petrol, which is probably thirstier and more expensive than is strictly necessary, is probably best avoided. As a result, we’d recommend the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel, whether you cover higher mileages or plan to load the car up regularly, thanks to its official economy of up to 50mpg. Topping the standard range is a 197bhp 2.0-litre diesel, although as with the most powerful petrol engine, this is rather expensive to buy. A flagship Skoda Kodiaq vRS model was available with an even more powerful diesel engine but sales were slow and ultimately it was short-lived.
Four-wheel drive is optional with the 148bhp engine and standard with the more powerful engines. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is fitted to most cars, although a six-speed manual gearbox is available with the 1.5-litre petrol.
There are five trim levels at the time of writing, kicking off with SE. This has 18-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen and LED running lights, rear parking sensors, a rear armrest and cruise control. It’s also available with seven seats – at least as a £1,000 option.
Next up is SE Drive, added to the line-up in 2020. It increases the alloy wheel size to 19 inches and includes a reversing camera, sat nav, LED ambient interior lighting, LED rear lights, a year’s Infotainment online subscription plus a colour trip computer.
Our pick of the range is the SE L, with 19-inch alloys, full-LED exterior lighting, piano black interior trim, heated front seats, a powered tailgate, keyless entry and a 9.2-inch touchscreen with sat-nav and Wi-Fi. Leather and microsuede upholstery adds to its upmarket feel and there's enough tech here to impress most families.
The Sportline model gets a sporty styling pack and some motorsport-inspired interior touches. It sits below the flagship L&K trim, which gets a panoramic sunroof, chrome grille, front parking sensors, ambient lighting, a heated windscreen, interior upgrades and Canton stereo. They feature some desirable upgrades, but also make the Kodiaq uncomfortably expensive, so we’d recommend sticking with the SE L and some well-chosen options instead.
Skoda has slimmed down the trim level range, discontinuing the elegant Edition and off-road-focused Scout models. The Scout brought a rough-road package, a beefy styling kit and standard four-wheel drive, but it was expensive. You can still order four-wheel drive and the rough-road package on all trim levels if you’re going to be taking your Kodiaq off the beaten track.
After crash-testing by independent organisation Euro NCAP, the Kodiaq received a five-star rating thanks to the impressive protection it offers adult and child occupants, with extra credit awarded for a standard automatic emergency braking system. This reinforces the big Skoda’s position as a top-value, family-friendly SUV. The Kodiaq has certainly impressed in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, finishing sixth place out of 75 cars ranked. The Skoda brand came in an equally reassuring fifth place.