Skoda Kodiaq Review
Found only in southwest Alaska, the Kodiak bear is the biggest brown bear you’ll ever face. It’s huge, weighing up to nearly 700kg, and able to thrive in the difficult terrain of the near-arctic northwest.
In contrast, the Skoda Kodiaq is the biggest car Skoda has ever made. It’s huge, can seat seven, and has enough technology to thrive in difficult terrain, including the near-arctic northwest.
While it’s tempting to turn this into a twin test between a massive bear and a massive SUV, there’s only one you can lease here so let’s see what the Skoda Kodiaq is all about...
Select's rating score* - 4.2 / 5
At a Glance
The Kodiaq is Skoda’s first-ever seven-seater, but there's more to it than that. Available in a five-seat option, and with both front- and four-wheel-drive, it’s a flexible SUV that could be seen to rival vehicles as diverse as the Peugeot 5008 and Land Rover Discovery.
However, being a Skoda, it’s dispensed with all the frippery that is added to more glamorous models, so there’s not much in the way of flash bling adorning the car. Instead, Skoda focuses on things people want and will use, a process it calls Simply Clever.
The result is an understated but still imposing SUV that does what it’s meant to do, bucking trends and focussing on honesty. Apart from the vRS model. That’s just crazy.
Skoda is not a brand to endow its cars with unnecessary quirks, so there’s no jacked-up off-road special and no silly performance model. The odd thing is that, until recently, both existed in the range, but have been dropped as the Czechs concentrate on turning a profit rather than making cars for fun.
Without those more interesting models in the range, and without any unnecessary gadgets or glamour to enliven the car, the key standout feature of the Kodiaq is its sheer practicality.
For those of us that aren't bothered about lift-off oversteer, that’s a hugely important factor in picking a car. The Kodaiq’s huge dimensions provide a huge amount of space in which to pack passengers, cargo or combinations of both, but it’s the Simply Clever features that you’ll grow to appreciate.
There’s an ice scraper hidden in the fuel filler flap, allowing you to scrape the windows clean without needing to open the doors and get snow and ice in the car. Protector strips pop out when you open the doors, leaving the car looking sleek when locked up but protected when you’re about to bang the door into a parked car. Umbrellas in the doors provide protection from the elements, assuming you remember to put them back. A funnel on the washer fluid bottle? Check. Rechargeable torch in the boot? Yep. Somewhere to hide the parcel shelf when it’s removed? Of course.
Picking an engine for the Kodiaq depends on what you’ll be using it for. Throwing a couple of lightweight bikes in the back before cruising to a forest for a muddy afternoon with your mates? Then the 1.5-litre petrol engine makes plenty of sense.
However, if you’re going to load the car full of seven passengers, pack the boot full of luggage and a dog, and then attach a caravan to the back for a week-long break in Merthyr Tydfil, the 2.0-litre diesel engine is the one to choose.
Both produce 150hp, but the diesel has a lot more low-down grunt to drag things along and, when not being used to its full capabilities, is the more economical of the options. The petrol needs to be worked harder to get the most from it, but it’s pleasingly flexible and more refined than the oil-burner. It’s also quite a lot cheaper.
Both do the essential 0-62mph dash in a little under 10 seconds but, for those that need a little more oomph, there are two extra options - a 2.0-litre petrol with 190hp and another 2.0-litre diesel with 200hp.
Those higher-power models might tempt you to explore the dynamic limits of the Kodiaq, but the roughly 1.8-tonnes of SUV isn’t one to be thrown around too enthusiastically. Yes, it grips tenaciously, and there’s less body roll than you might expect, but the steering is incredibly light and feels oddly remote. Adaptive suspension is an option, which allows you to stiffen the suspension for a sharper edge, but it just makes life more uncomfortable without adding any noticeable extra ability.
Nope, ignore the desire to get from A to B quickly, and try to relax instead. If you’re on a nice flowing, reasonably smooth A-road, then that’s very easy, with the tall suspension doing a decent job of masking any bumps in the road. Slow down and it gets a bit jittery, losing out to softly-spring rivals like the Citroen C5 Aircross. It’s never alarmingly bad and can be improved dramatically by resisting the temptation to pick a model with outlandishly sized wheels, but you’ll still feel surface cracks, potholes and speed bumps.
When you have a big car like the Kodiaq, and a relatively small engine, like the 15-litre petrol unit here, you shouldn’t expect the most frugal car. However, while there are some less thirsty rivals, the official economy figure of 37.2mpg isn’t too disturbing.
Diesel engines are, as you would expect, more economical, with the 2.0-litre 150hp model in 5-seat SE spec reaching the dizzy heights of 52.3mpg.
There are no significant reliability issues with the Kodiaq, or any of the Skoda range, but there’s a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty in place to cover any unexpected issues. That can be extended to five years and 100,000 miles for an additional £630.
If something does go wrong while you’re out on the road, there’s also three years of breakdown recovery included, which covers you across Europe as well as the UK.
The Kodiaq is cheaper than many of its rivals (although by less than you might think) but it also holds its value well, so your monthly leasing costs should be kept in check. Looking at like for like comparisons, you’ll pay slightly less each month than you would by choosing a Peugeot 5008, and significantly less than choosing a Land Rover Discovery Sport, both seven-seat rivals.
Emissions range from planet-sparing 141g/km and rise to a polar bear worrying 213g/km, but you’ll need to be leasing the higher-power 2.0-litre petrol model to hit that figure. Do that and, as well as high emissions and the highest level of company car tax, you’ll also be facing wallet-emptying economy.
Stick to the middle of the road 1.5 TSI or 2.0 150hp diesel and you might just avoid that highest tax band, but not by much; at 141g/km at its lowest, you’re still looking at a 31% BIK rate.
Happily, all the diesel engines are RDE2 compliant, which means they’ve passed the latest round of emissions testing, so they all avoid the 4% tax uplift.
Elsewhere, consumers will face a car tax bill of £150 for all models, except for the range-topping Laurin & Klement models - the diesel models attract an extra £325 tax bill for daring to cost more than £40,000.
Skoda hasn’t strayed too far from the conventional with the interior of the Kodiaq. The dashboard is simplistic and minimalistic, but not unattractive. A horizontal slab runs across the front, broken up by an infotainment screen that houses the Volkswagen Group’s usual array of goodies, while physical controls for the heating and ventilation sit below it. If you had to guess where any control was without looking, you’d probably be right.
There’s nothing to get excited about but, equally, you won’t be frustrated by anything. Solid and sensible, as you want a Skoda to be.
The SE L model is kitted out with some glorious microfiber and leather seats, while the Laurin & Klement model has full leather. It’s the Sportline that looks the finest inside though, with Alcantara seating, some faux carbon fibre, and LED lighting dotted around the car. It could be a bit over the top, but it does add a sensation of sportiness that might just distract you from the fact that you’re driving a seven-seater family SUV.
Even the entry-level SE model comes with an 8.0-inch infotainment screen, with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, so there’s no need to add navigation to the mix. Every other model includes the nav, though, while SE L buyers and above can enjoy those directions on a slightly larger 9.2-inch screen.
The reality is that’s about the end of the technology to talk about. Skoda doesn’t stick the latest touch-sensitive panels in its cars, or develop bleeding-edge digital connectivity or game-changing all-wheel-drive systems.
It just takes the best, proven parts from the Volkswagen Group’s arsenal and puts them together to create a pleasing, solid, predictable and good value car. Simple rather than flash.
Given that the Kodiaq is just 30cm short of being five metres long, you would expect there to be plenty of room inside, and you’d be right. Mostly.
The front seats provide plenty for all, with ridiculous amounts of legroom and plenty of headroom. The middle row of seats slides back and forth (although not individually) allowing you to create impressive legroom and loads of headroom. Three adults will be comfortable enough here, although shoulders will rub. Each seat does recline independently though, which is handy to create a bit of tessellation.
Right at the back is the third row, a pair of seats that aren’t as convincing. I’ve sat in the back, but soon remembered that I’m no longer a teenager and found the flexibility required to be more painful than I’d hoped. Once in, legroom is fine, assuming those in the middle row aren’t selfish and slide their bench backwards.
The entry-level SE model is the only Kodiaq available without all seven seats, which might suit some, but then there are arguably better five-seater options available.
With the rearmost seats folded flat into the floor, there’s an impressive 835 litres of boot space available below the parcel shelf. Remove that (and store it in the specially designed handy underfloor cubby hole) and fold down the centre row of seats and you can load up to 2,005 litres of cargo - that’s getting on for van levels of room.
There’s a caveat to all that, though - if you regularly want to carry seven passengers and some luggage, you’ll be limited to just 270 litres of luggage, or a couple of suitcases stood upright.
Skoda has built the Kodiaq tough, being awarded the full five-stars in Euro NCAP’s testing back in 2017. It might lack the very latest developments in safety, but the strength of the car isn’t in doubt, and there’s still a handy amount of electronic help to avoid an accident in the first place.
Aside from the regular stability control and anti-lock brakes you expect, every Kodiaq comes with automatic lights (that even come on when it starts raining) and wipers (which also come on when it rains!)
Headlight washer jets keep the lenses clear, which is an unusual piece of equipment these days, while front fog lights are also standard. Visibility should be good at all times, then.
Go up trim levels, and investigate the options list, and you’ll also find 360-degree cameras, traffic sign recognition, automatic high beam, blind-spot warnings, and a pedestrian monitor with automatic emergency braking.
However, frustratingly, some safety options aren’t available for all models - you can only specify lane-keeping assist and blind-spot detection on SE L grades and above, at extra cost on some models, but it’s not available at all on the SE or SE Drive.
With a choice from a bare-bones(ish) SE, right through to a plush Laurin & Klement model that costs more than 50% extra, there should be a Kodiaq for everyone. The reality is that SE Drive and SE L trim lines probably offer the best balance of equipment and price.
Both come with navigation, reversing camera and parking sensors, while the SE L adds LED headlights, heated front seats, a larger infotainment system and an electrically operated boot lid.
There are pages and pages of options available for the Kodiaq, with some surprisingly specific items but, for those filling all seven seats, triple-zone climate control might be a feature worth paying for at £310.
Some packs of equipment make sense, with a good-value Family Pack adding door edge protection, roller blinds for the rear side windows, bins in the door panels and electric child locks for £180. A £325 Sleep Pack includes acoustic glass (which is beneficial even when not sleeping), special design rear-seat headrests, tinted rear windows, a sunblind for side windows in the rear, some super-soft footrests and, amazingly, a blanket.
Disappointingly, lots of safety equipment is stuck in the options list, with lane-keeping assist and blind-spot warning costing almost £1,000, and even then it’s not available across all models.
There are two very clear rivals to the Kodiaq; the Kia Sorento has just been launched in its fourth generation, and that’s a mammoth seven-seater that’s bigger and plusher than the Kodiaq, although also more expensive. The Hyundai Santa Fe is a behemoth of an SUV that offers more luxury and space than the Kodiaq but, again, it’s also more expensive.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport offers a more premium sensation, and asks a lot of money for it, but string residuals keep monthly payments down. You’re going to really want that badge though, as there’s also less space on offer, especially in the rear.
The biggest rivals come from with the Volkswagen Group, with the SEAT Tarracco being almost indistinguishable from the Kodiaq while the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace seems to just provide a slightly more stylish design. The stark reality is that the Skoda beats them both - but only just!
It might just lose out to the Peugeot 5008 though, as the French model provides a more compliant ride and will be more economical to run, and even edges out the Kodiaq for space.
If seven seats are vital, there are few options. The new Kia Sorento might, ultimately, be the best option, but that comes at a cost that is significantly more than the Kodiaq. There’s little point in looking at the other Volkswagen Group models either, as the Kodiaq offers better value than all of them.
But it’s not all about who offers the most space for the least money. The Kodiaq makes a compelling choice just on grounds of desirability - it’s blunt, sharp-edged style works well, while it’s simple but effective interior is as classless as they come. The fact it’s a decent if uninvolving drive helps matters too.
But, ultimately, it’s the value that the Kodiaq offers that swings the balance in its favour, Nothing else can touch it.
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Skoda Kodiaq
**Correct as of 25/11/2020. Based on 9 months initial payment, 8,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £2,095.09 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.