The Skoda Kodiaq is one of our favourite SUVs. In fact, it’s one of our favourite cars of any sort. Skoda absolutely nailed the brief for a big, seven-seat family SUV at the first attempt and it’s a similar story with the smaller Karoq. It, too, does its job brilliantly. But how do the two compare? carwow breaks it down.
Skoda has built a deserved reputation for building first-rate family cars. The Kodiaq was its first attempt at a large, seven-seat SUV and expectations were high when it was launched in 2016. But few expected it to blow away pretty much every alternative this side of a Volvo XC90 – including the closely related VW Tiguan Allspace and SEAT Tarraco.
The Karoq was launched in 2017 as an indirect replacement for the rugged little Yeti. That car’s near-cult following were disappointed by its more conventional styling. But, like the Kodiaq, it was designed and engineered with such attention to detail that it went straight to the top of the class.
But enough of the history lesson. Let’s see how the Kodiaq and Karoq compare.
It goes without saying the much larger Kodiaq is longer, taller and more upright that the Karoq. It has a bigger rear overhang to accommodate the third row of seats, too. Yet both cars are clearly Skodas.
Their grilles and headlights are the same shape, if different sizes. A crease runs down the side of both, between the front and rear lights. The lower body side cladding is the same, as well.
Their rear ends aren’t exactly the same, but clearly from the same drawing board. Both the Kodiaq and Karoq are good looking cars and are smart enough to fit in anywhere.
The Kodiaq is 4.6 metres long, 1.9m wide and 1.7m tall, while the Karoq is 40cm shorter, about 10cm narrower and roughly 10cm less tall.
Both cars come standard with a non-metallic paint called Energy Blue, with options including Brilliant Silver, Graphite Grey and Velvet Red (all of which are metallic).
Interior and tech
As you’d expect, the Kodiaq and Karoq are pretty similar inside – in the picture above the Kodiaq is on the left. Near enough all the major controls are shared, as are the materials. The main touch points are covered in expensive, soft-touch surfaces, but lower down the plastics become cheap and scratchy.
The colour scheme in both cars features many shades of black and grey. That renders the Karoq a bit dark inside, but the Kodiaq’s big windows let in plenty of light. Both are available with a panoramic sunroof that really lifts the ambience.
The big difference between the two cars’ interior design is a broad strip of decorative trim on the passenger side of the Kodiaq’s dashboard.
Boot space and practicality
Clearly, the bigger Kodiaq is the more practical car. Even with two rows of seats in use, the boot is huge – 720 litres. Fold the second row down and there’s a van-like 2065 litres. Even with the third row in place, there’s a decent amount of space left.
That third row is really only suitable for small children, even with the moveable second row as far forward as possible. On the plus side, even the largest of people won’t be complaining about second row space.
You can fit three adults in the back of the Karoq, but shoulder and head room will be tight. Still, a six-foot passenger can sit behind a six-foot driver in the Karoq, at least for shorter journeys. Smaller children will have plenty of room back there.
The boot is decently sized, with 588 litres of space with the removable VariFlex rear seats up and a whopping 1810 litres without them. In the picture above, the Karoq is on the left.
Both Kodiaq and Karoq have lots of neat little touches to make filling the boot and securing loads easier, too.
Engines and driving
The Kodiaq is available with 150hp, 1.5-litre and 190hp, 2.0-litre petrol engines, or there’s a 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp, 190hp or a twin-turbocharged diesel with 240hp. If you do most of your driving over short distances, the 150hp petrol engine provides a good blend of performance and mid-30s fuel economy. The diesels are better for high mileage use, the 190hp version providing the best performance/economy compromise. The 240hp vRS is entertainingly swift, but quite expensive.
The Karoq is available with two petrol and two diesel engines. Petrol choices are a 115hp 1.0-litre and a 150hp 1.5-litre. The former is a keen little engine than returns good fuel economy around town. But it’s a bit underpowered for regular, long journeys. For those trips the 1.5 is a better bet; it’s plenty powerful enough and returns around 40mpg in real-world driving. Of the two diesels, the 2.0-litre 150hp unit is the best option. It’s not as economical as the 115hp 1.6-litre, but its standard four-wheel-drive is useful.
Four-wheel-drive and DSG automatic gearboxes are available with both cars.
With the more powerful diesel engines, both Kodiaq and Karoq are effective caravan pullers.
Safety and reliability
Both the Kodiaq and Karoq scored the full five stars when crash tested by Euro NCAP, and their scores were very similar across the board (with just a percentage point or two separating each category score). As such, they make sound, safe family cars.
Reliability is harder to gauge, but both cars sit on proven Volkswagen Group platforms, while neither has developed any kind or reputation for letting owners down, so again, you can buy with confidence. Skoda offers a standard three-year 60,000-mile warranty, which is reasonable, if nothing to write home about.
Price and running costs
Being the bigger car, the Kodiaq is inevitably the more expensive. Prices start at £33,100 for the Kodiaq SE Drive, which features 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, all-round parking sensors, climate control and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Note that only gets you five seats; if you wan’t the seven-seat version (which most people do – something to bear in mind for resale values) then you’ll need to add an extra £1,065 to the above price for an SE Drive seven seater.
At the top of the range, the luxurious Kodiaq L&K (previously known as Laurin + Klement) costs a hefty £44,550, while the vRS tips the scales at £47,690. The mid-range SE L Executive represents the best value with its Matrix LED headlights, 19-inch alloys, leather seats and a powered bootlid, for £36,960
The entry-level Karoq SE Drive has 17-inch alloys, rear parking sensors and an eight-inch touchscreen, and costs £26,255. The top of the range Sportline comes in at £32,570 with its panoramic sunroof, sporty looks and 19-inch alloys (you also get an automatic upgrade to the 1.5-litre 150hp petrol engine). Again, the £25,500 SE L is the sweet spot, as for £28,090 you get synthetic suede seats, a reversing camera and 18-inch alloys, amongst other goodies.
Larger cars take more energy to get moving, while the Karoq is available with smaller, more frugal engines, so it’s little surprise it has a slight edge here. The entry-level 110hp 1.0-litre petrol Karoq officially returns 48.6mpg, while the 2.0-litre diesel can top 59.4mpg.
The Kodiaq engine range begins with a 150hp 1.5-litre petrol unit, which officially manages 40.7mpg, while the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel ups that to 52.5mpg.
Carbon dioxide emissions dictate the cost of the first year’s road tax, with the 1.0 Karoq costing £230 and the 2.0 diesel being £190. For the Kodiaq, equivalent figures for the 1.5 petrol and 2.0 diesel are £585 and £230.
After that first year, though, both cars will get a flat road tax rate of £165 – though bear in mind if you specify either car above £40,000 from new (including options) you’ll pay a £365 surcharge on top of the £165 rate for years two to six of the car’s life.
All the engines in both the Karoq and Kodiaq meet the latests Euro 6 emission standards, so you won’t fall foul of the clean air zones that have started to appear and grow over recent years.
Both the Skoda Kodiaq and Karoq are first-rate family cars that’ll be dependable companions. The choice ultimately comes down to how much space you need.
Neither is particularly fun to drive, but they feel safe and secure. The Kodiaq more so, thanks to its extra size and weight, while the Kodiaq’s driving position is pleasingly upright and commanding.