Skoda Karoq review
If you want a well-built small SUV with plenty of space, the Skoda Karoq is well worth a look. Just don’t expect to be wowed by its design or the way it goes around corners.
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The Karoq is Skoda doing what it does best — creating a simple, usable, practical family car and selling it to you for a reasonable price.
If you’re expecting dramatic, dynamic driving or performance, look elsewhere; but stick around if what you’re after is a solid, sensible, reliable family SUV. Basically, it’s the Ecco shoes of the car world.
The Karoq is also a Skoda that hits the family crossover market right in the bullseye — it’s simple and effective, and one of those cars that slots seamlessly into your life. The raised driving position has obvious appeal, as does the solid build quality and the plethora of clever features (such as an ice scraper built into the fuel flap, and a small tab in the windscreen for holding a pay-and-display ticket).
It’s not a car to buy if aesthetics are your thing — alternatives such as the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Qashqai, and Peugeot 3008 all wear suits of a sharper cut — but neither is it bereft of style. Two-element headlights (shared with the larger, but mechanically similar Kodiaq) give it a little bit of visual interest at the front, and the rest of the styling is crisp and neat, if entirely predictable.
Inside, that sensible, solid style continues. If you’re looking for wild colours or eye-searing patterns, then look elsewhere — that’s not Skoda’s bag. If that means that the Karoq’s cabin isn’t the most thrilling place to be, then it also means that it’s big on being easy to use and simple in its layout. That simplicity includes the 8 inch central touchscreen, which has big, clear menu ‘buttons’; while the recent addition of the two-spoke multifunction steering wheel from the Octavia and Enyaq iV is a nice touch.
As you grip that wheel and fiddle with the touchscreen, you’ll also notice that you’re sitting very comfortably. Every model comes with height-adjustable front seats and manual lumbar adjustment, and even for tall adults there’s proper stretching room. In the back, there’s just about enough space for three adults to sit next to one another (although the one in the middle would want to be on the slimmer side…).
The Skoda Karoq is a no-frills family SUV with a very practical cabin and a range of sensible, economical engines.
Behind the second row lies the Karoq’s family-friendly trump card: an absolutely massive, square, flat-floored boot. Need to make that boot bigger? Well then just spec your Karoq with the optional ‘VarioFlex’ rear seats, and you can slide them forward to find more boot space, or even take them out altogether, turning your Karoq into a van.
It’s no van to drive, though. The Karoq rides comfortably over bumps and lumps with only an occasional very sharp intrusion causing any discomfort. The cabin is also very quiet, aside from a little bit of wind rustle around the door mirrors and a touch of tyre rumble at cruising speeds.
Around town, the Karoq is very smooth and easy to handle, but be aware that the optional DSG automatic gearbox can be a touch sluggish to respond at low speeds – especially in combination with the 150hp 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine.
Actually, if you’re mostly driving in town, then the Karoq’s basic 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine is the best choice. It might sound a bit weedy given the size of the car around it, but it’s actually surprisingly peppy at urban speeds, and works well with the standard six-speed manual gearbox.
The diesel engine options are a better fit if long motorway runs make up most of your daily mileage, and if that’s the case then it’s well worth considering getting the optional active cruise control and lane-keeping steering too.
So, the Skoda Karoq adds up to being one of the most sensible, useful, and affordable family SUVs on the market. If you think one should make it onto your shopping list, then see how much you can save by checking out our Skoda Karoq deals.
The Skoda Karoq has a big boot and space inside for four tall adults. The VarioFlex back seats can slide and recline individually, or be removed for a huge load bay
Comfort for the driver is excellent, and the range of adjustment for the driver’s seat (which adjusts for height as standard, as well as having adjustable lumbar support) means that all shapes and sizes are catered for. Better still, if you tick the options box for the panoramic glass roof, you’ll not be giving up too much headroom.
Choose an SE L or Edition model and you’ll get heated front seats, while Edition models also get electric driver’s seat adjustment — there’s no option for an electric front passenger’s seat at the moment. That electric adjustment also comes with a memory function, so you can easily move the seat back to your favourite position if someone else has been driving it.
Of course, many Karoq owners will be fitting in child safety seats, and Skoda has made that a doddle, with wide door openings, and easily-found Isofix points.
There’s an Isofix point in the two outer rear seats, and an optional extra one in the front passenger seat, but there’s no way of having Isofix in the middle rear seat.
However, a good option for families is the Family Pack, which includes electronic rear child locks, activated from a switch on the driver’s door. The pack also comes with heat-insulating rear glass, a double-sided luggage mat in the boot, and — crucially — a removable bin in the rear door pocket for all those empty Smarties tubes.
Up front, there’s lots of storage space, including a large glovebox with a cooling function that will hold a 1.5-litre bottle of water, and massive door pockets front and rear.
Under the armrest between the front seat, there’s an adaptable, adjustable tray that holds cups, keys, coins etc — the cup-holder section also has little lumps in it that hold a water or soft drinks bottle steady and allow you to unscrew the lid with one hand. Remove it and the space left over is big enough for two one-litre bottles of water.
Down behind the steering wheel, there’s a little covered tray for keeping some loose change, and another space, with a lid, in front of the gear shift which includes USB plugs so you can charge a phone or other device (with the option of a wireless charging pad too).
The 521-litre boot is large, square, and has a flat floor, and also has a 12-volt socket and a neat little built-in torch, which double-jobs as the boot’s own interior light.
Much like the interior, the Karoq’s boot is spacious and comes packed full of handy features, such as big, sturdy hooks and tie-downs for securing shopping in place. Fold down the standard rear bench, and you have 1,630-litres of load space to play with (compared to 1,598-litres in the new Nissan Qashqai). If you’ve got the VarioFlex seats, sliding them back or forth alters the boot space from 479-litres up to 588-litres.
The Karoq has a flat loading lip from the rear bumper, so it’s easy to slide heavier items into the boot, but if you’re stashing in bicycles note that when you fold the back seats flat, there’s a small hump to negotiate. A bike, with wheels on, will still fit, but just requires a little juggling to get pedals and handlebars over the hump.
An electrically-operated boot is optionally available, and standard on the Sportline and Edition models, and it comes with a ‘foot pedal’ which means you can open it by waggling your foot around under the bumper. That, in theory, allows you to open the boot even when your hands are full of shopping or luggage, but it’s a little bit hit-and-miss in practice.
The Karoq majors on lightness of control weights, so it’s really easy and relaxing to drive. The cabin is impressively refined and quiet, and the ride quality — unless you’ve gone for the optional 19-inch wheels — is pleasantly soft
You can choose from three petrol and two diesel engines for your Karoq. An automatic gearbox is available across the range (a six-speed manual is standard), but the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel and 190hp 2.0-litre petrol are the only models available with four-wheel drive, and then only in higher SE L or Sportline trim.
If most of your motoring life is spent in town, then definitely consider the basic 1.0-litre TSI 115hp turbo petrol engine. It’s surprisingly nippy around town, and is well capable of completing longer runs too. Skoda claims 53mpg fuel economy, and we reckon you should at least get 45mpg out of it. It only really runs out of puff at higher speeds, or if you’re trying to pull off a sharp overtaking manoeuvre.
That’s when the 150hp 1.5-litre turbo petrol comes into its own. Overtaking becomes easy, and there’s enough oomph to haul around whatever you’ve filled that big boot with.
Real-world fuel economy should work out around the 40mpg mark. It’s also very refined and smooth. There is also a 190hp 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine, but it’s only available with four-wheel drive, and as a Sportline model, so will be of minority interest only. It’s also very thirsty.
Fancy a diesel instead? The old 1.6-litre four-cylinder TDI diesel has been replaced with a newer 2.0-litre engine, which comes in a choice of 116hp and 150hp forms.
Both models come with an AdBlue injection system for the exhaust, which reduces the car’s output of harmful gases. The basic 116hp engine has 300Nm of torque, so it’s pretty peppy at low speeds, but the 150hp version’s 340Nm does make longer drives a little more relaxing.
If you’re in town, the high driving position gives you excellent visibility (aside from some blind spots around the big windscreen pillars). Speaking of which, the rear pillars are also large, and the rear screen is on the small side, which isn’t great. At least the Karoq comes with standard rear parking sensors, and you can option it up with cameras too.
Light steering makes most parking a doddle, but if you want to make it even easier, you can get the optional Park Assist system. Not only can this guide the car into a parking space for you, it can also help when reversing with a trailer.
If you’ve gone for the optional automatic gearbox, you might find some of the gear changes a little jerky at low speeds, but that does smooth out a great deal at higher speeds on bigger roads.
Speaking of, the Karoq is actually pretty good at those longer journeys. Wind and tyre noise are present, but they’re well suppressed, and as long as you’ve avoided the 19-inch alloy wheels of the Edition version, you’ll have a comfy ride.
The Karoq is also very safe — all versions get automated emergency braking, and top-spec Edition models add lane-keeping steering and a blind spot monitoring system.
There’s not a lot of body roll on twister roads, and while the steering isn’t sports-car-sharp (did you expect it to be?) the Karoq feels sure-footed and confidence inspiring through corners, with plenty of grip and good stability.
If you do fancy a little more driver engagement, then the Sportline model, especially when fitted with the optional, lower-slung, adaptive suspension is worth a look.
It’s not really a high performance model (the engines are the same as those fitted to other models) but it is a little keener in the corners. Mind you, that’s hardly why you’re buying a Karoq in the first place, so the extra cost really might not be worth it.
The Karoq’s cabin might not be particularly exciting to look at but it feels sturdy and all models get a slick 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard