2018 Skoda Kodiaq Review
Isaac Bober’s 2018 Skoda Kodiaq Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The Skoda Kodiaq is the brand’s first foray into the medium SUV segment. It offers all-wheel drive and seven seats as standard and a classy roomy cabin to boot.
2018 Skoda Kodiaq
Pricing From $42,990+ORC Warranty five years, unlimited kilometres (three-years standard; extra two-years factory extended) Service Intervals 12 months//15,000km Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol Power 132kW at 3900-6000rpm Torque 320Nm at 1400-3940rpm Transmission seven-speed DSG Drive all-wheel driveDimensions 4697mm (L); 1882mm (W); 1655mm (H); 2791mm (WB) Ground Clearance 187mm Angles 19.1-degrees (A); 15.6-degrees (D); 19.7-degrees (R) Turning Circle 11.6m Weight 1677kg Spare space saver Fuel Tank 60 litres Thirst 7.6L/100km (claimed combined) – 95RON
NAMED AFTER A BEAR, the Skoda Kodiaq is the brand’s first foray into the booming world of medium SUVs. The Kodiaq arrives Down Under with just one engine available, at the moment, which is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol with a gruntier turbo-diesel on its way to the range before the end of the year.
Kodiaq lists here from $42,990+ORC and is standard with all-wheel drive and seven seats.
What is the Skoda Kodiaq?
The Kodiaq is built off the Volkswagen Group’s Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform which, being modular, can be stretched and shrunk down to suit a variety of vehicle types. The vehicle measure 4697mm long, 1882mm wide and 1676mm tall (including roof rails); its wheelbase measures 2791mm.
Don’t just think of the Kodiaq as Skoda’s version of the Tiguan because it’s quite a bit bigger than that vehicle; there’ll be a longer Tiguan out later this year with seven seats, which will match up with the Kodiaq. It’s not often that VW lets Skoda go first with a new vehicle. For the record, the Tiguan measures 4486mm(L); 1839mm(W); and 1648-1658mm(H).
When the new Tiguan launched late last year, VW said it hoped it would redefine the medium SUV segment and, in a way it did, it offered plenty of room, great driving dynamics and a good raft of standard and safety features. But, the Kodiaq might and should steal some of the Tiguan’s thunder see, it offers all those things too, but with more room. And, as I found on a recent family road trip to Melbourne, the Tiguan, with four on-board and all their luggage, feels a little cramped.
The Kodiaq, at the moment, can only be had with a petrol engine, but a 140kW turbo-diesel is on the way and, while the petrol is a cracker, if you live outside the city limits or spend a lot of time driving then the diesel will likely be the one to wait for… although we don’t know what the price will be, yet. The entry pricing for the Kodiaq kicks off at $42,990+ORC and that puts it a good $10k more than the entry into the Tiguan, but you also get a whole lot more, not the least of which is a bigger vehicle a gruntier engine, seven seats and all-wheel drive, so, it’s not really apples with apples.
In the grand scheme of things, the Kodiaq goes up against the Toyota Kluger but is better to drive, has a roomier third row and a much better infotainment unit. And, if you’re looking at something like a rear-drive Ford Everest and don’t need a 3000kg towing capacity, then the Kodiaq should also be on your list…
What’s the interior of the Skoda Kodiaq like?
Like all Skoda interiors, the Kodiaq’s is simple, practical and with just enough elegance to the material choice and design that it doesn’t come across as pretentious. Volkswagen is often held up as the benchmark when it comes to dashboard design and interior fit and finish at this price point, but I think Skoda is the shining light of the brand and the Kodiaq’s dash looks clean and simple with all the buttons you might ever want to use easy to see and reach without making it feel cluttered.
All the materials used in the cabin feel premium, sure, there’s some hard, scratchy stuff where you want hard scratchy plastic to be, like on the door handles and around the door bins, but in places where you want softer stuff, like where your knee rests up against the centre console, you get beautiful soft plastic (and that’s a phrase I never thought I’d utter) … it shows Skoda has thought about the end user.
What’s the Skoda Kodiaq’s infotainment system like?
Our test car ran an 8.0-inch touchscreen (a 6.5-inch unit is available in some markets) and it’s good. There’s a lot of functionality in the unit with some capacitive shortcut buttons on either side of the screen which older drivers, like me, will likely use… the ‘home’ page features a side-swiping arrangement which reveals more functionality when connected to a smartphone.
Of course, there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and I found this to be one of the quickest responding systems I’ve tested once your phone is connected (mine’s an iPhone). The only issue I noticed was if you connect your phone while driving; it takes a a few moments for the system to find and connect your phone but, once connected, everything works seamlessly with no lag on the Hey Siri voice control function.
The glass screen looks beautiful too, and while it’s virtually glare free it will show finger prints on some angles… just like your iPad.
The infotainment unit also displays the reversing camera which offers dynamic lines and, in our test car, real-time surround view (meaning you can see the gutter as you’re parking against it or the bumper of another car when you’re trying to manoeuvre out of a tight spot, when parking which is absolutely genius.
There’s much more to the system than I’ve explained here, but suffice it to say that this is one of the best infotainment systems on the market at this price point. If not, the best.
What’s the Skoda Kodiaq’s passenger space like?
In a word, flexible. In two words, flexible and roomy. Now, while the Kodiaq looks big it’s only 38mm bigger than a Skoda Octavia which isn’t what you’d call exactly large (although it’s roomy enough for a family of four… full disclosure, I own one) yet, Skoda’s engineers and designers have somehow managed to fit three rows of seating and room for a small boot when all rows are in use… and, at the same time without the cabin feeling cramped.
Starting with the third row, I find that too many motoring writers automatically assume that a third row, in a medium SUV, is designed for adults to sit in the back of… I don’t reckon they are and, if an adult does need to use them, then treat them as an occasional seat only.
Okay, back to the seats. Because the second-row slides forwards and backwards you’re able to free up more room for those in the third row if needed and this won’t cramp up those in the second row. There are small divots in the floor for third-row passengers to slot their feet underneath the second row and there’s a cup holder on one side and a small bin on the other; there’s also a 12v outlet back there. The seats are split down the middle so you can have both up or just one.
To climb into the third-row, you simply slide the second-row seats forward and then tumble forward the back rest; I’m six-feet tall and I managed to climb through the space. Probably the main issue I’ve got is that the second-row seats are 60:40 split with the 60 split on the kerb side which is the side most people will access the third-row from, meaning you’ve got to slide a bigger seat forward; but in other, bigger markets, there’ll be no such problem. At the end of the day, it isn’t that much of an issue to clamber over the larger seat, but it’s worth noting.
If you need to worry about anyone sitting behind you and the third-row seats are stowed flat in the floor then there are literally acres of legroom in the back. Headroom is equally impressive. The seats are nicely shaped and even the middle seat is broad enough that a six-footer like me can sit in the middle with two adults either side and not feel cramped. The transmission tunnel does get in the way a little, but there’s plenty of legroom on either side and more than enough that three people will be able to sit comfortably.
There’s an air vent and controls for the second-row and pouches on the back of both front seats for iPad storage; something I never thought I’d write… I remember when you used to keep a street directory in these pouches. On our test car, there were integrated rear window mesh screens which is an excellent thing if you’ve got kids, especially little ones in capsules. It means you don’t have buy those stupid suction cup ones; the Kodiaq’s mesh screens allow the window behind it to be lowered for ventilation. Beyond that, the windows are nice and big which means those in the back get a good view out.
The clever thing about the Kodiaq is that it doesn’t feel like you’re driving some sort of big, boofy seven-seater. It feels snug when you’re sat behind the wheel. The seats are comfortable with support where it’s needed whether you’re on the bitumen or off it, and the reach and rake on the steering wheel mean that no matter how tall or short you are you’ll be able to get comfortable here. All of the controls can be easily reached and easily seen.
What’s the Skoda Kodiaq’s boot space like?
If your Kodaiq has the cost optional Tech Pack then you’ll be able to use your foot to open the tailgate which is a handy feature for when your hands are full. Once open and with the third-row of seats up there’s 270 litres of space or, enough for a weekly shop for four people.
Fold down the third row and space grows to 720 litres which is bigger than all this car’s price-point rivals, and then drop the second row and you get an impressive 2065 litres of space or, enough room for me to lay down in the back of the thing and I’m six-feet tall.
But what I like most is that the seats all fold flat-ish into the floor (there’s a slight rise in the seat backs of the second row when folded but it’s pretty close), sure you get some gappy joins (unless you’ve got the second-row seats pushed back as far as they go before your fold them down).
The third-row seats can be folded down via little levers on either side of the car in the boot and then raised again via little straps on the back of each seat. Underneath the boot floor is access to privacy blind for the boot which can be stashed away when you need to use the third row rather than having to be left behind and then installed when those seats are stowed. Underneath that compartment is the space saver spare wheel. Other markets where a five-seat Kodiaq is sold receive a full-size spare. Shame as many potential buyers in country towns might see that as a hurdle.
What’s the Skoda Kodiaq like to drive?
Starting with the engine, the Skoda Kodiaq gets a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine making 132kW and 320Nm of torque. This is an engine we’ve sampled in a range of other Skoda and Volkswagen products and it’s a solid performer in all applications. It’s mated to a seven-speed DSG which is not always everyone’s cup of tea, but DSG really is an excellent transmission type. And the one in the Kodiaq is probably the best of the seven-seat DSGs I’ve sampled from the VW group, if that isn’t damning with faint praise.
But, back to the engine, some colleagues I’ve discussed the Kodiaq with have grumbled about the engine, saying it lacked grunt. Well, I’ll tell you what I told them, and that is that they’re talking out of their backsides, only I wasn’t that polite. I loaded the Kodiaq up with my family and all the stuff needed for a weekend away and the Kodiaq performed flawlessly with more than enough in reserve to overtake on the highway and flatten hills. The 320Nm of torque is available from a diesel-esque 1400rpm through to 3940rpm which is an impressive spread of grunt.
More than that, the engine and transmission work very well together, meaning all you need when you want to push a bit harder is to squeeze the throttle a little and the DSG will drop down a cog or two and fall back into the meat of that 320Nm of torque. There is a 140kW turbo-diesel engine on the way which will add an extra level of urgency to the way the Kodiaq performs, but the petrol engine has more than enough power and torque for 99% of buyers.
Away from the engine and transmission, the steering is well weighted with just enough feel through the wheel to keep the driver tied into what the front end is doing. And there’s a directness to it that none of this car’s competitors offer, not even the closely related Volkswagen Tiguan.
The brakes are nice and progressive and did a great job of pulling the car up quickly in an emergency stop on bitumen and then another on dirt. I then engaged the off-road button which tweaks the ABS for better performance on dirt and while I didn’t measure it exactly, it did seem to pull up quicker if the tree I was using as my marker was anything to go by.
The ride on or off-road is excellent (with only sharper-edged hits catching the thing unawares and jolting through the front end only) which came as a surprise given this thing rides on big 19-inch wheels. Beyond that, at high and low speed the ride is composed and comfortable with body roll well controlled even when pressing on.
Our test car ran the Tech Pack which offers ‘adaptive chassis control with driving mode selection’ the two are separate items but they work well together. Driving model select allows you to choose from Normal, Eco, Sport and Individual which tweaks the throttle response, transmission, steering and even the air-conditioning. While Adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control allows you to tweak the damping characteristic via Comfort, Normal and Sport. Personally, I thought Normal for both was the best both on- and off-road.
The Kodiaq isn’t an all-wheel drive in the same sense that a Subaru is (60:40 split), rather it tends to send about 10-15% of its drive to the rear wheels in normal driving and then, once slip is detected at the front the system will start sending more drive around, up to around 50% to the rear. This sort of system is more robust than on-demand all-wheel drives, like the Hyundai Santa Fe, but is still only really suited to light-duty rough road work; pushing these things too hard for too long off-road can see the centre clutch pack overheat (althought he Kodiaq runs a wet clutch type which is better at handling heat build up).
I drove the Kodiaq across the sort of surfaces I would expect buyers to tackle and possibly pushed it a little further than many would. Using a run-off drain on a track in the Blue Mountains I managed to test out the cross-axle performance of the Kodiaq and it performed flawlessly. I was expecting to have to give it a bit more right-foot but I didn’t have to. There was a graunching noise (the traction control doing what it’s meant to do) and then it simply gripped and drove forwards. I tried it a few times and the result was the same; a bit of noise and then progress.
In the end, the Kodiaq is a responsive, comfortable and safe vehicle to drive on both road and dirt with the all-wheel drive system working well to ensure grip in all conditions. And you can’t ask for more than that from a family-oriented SUV.
What safety features does the Skoda Kodiaq have?
The Kodiaq gets a five star ANCAP rating and depending on the specification a heap of active safety features, like automatic parking assist, surround camera view and more. As standard, it gets front assist with city emergency braking (AEB, in other words), stability and traction controls, hill hold assist, all-wheel drive, reversing camera, nine airbags, engine immobiliser, height-adjustable seatbelts, ISOFIX points for the second-row seats (outboard seats only), alarm, child safety door locks that can be activated from the driver’s seat, rain sensor and door-edge protectors which deploy automatically when you open the doors, and an umbrellas stashed inside each of the front doors.
So, what do we think about the Skoda Kodiaq?
This is a very impressive machine; the automatic door-edge protectors alone are worth the price of admission. Almost. The 132kW petrol engine is strong enough, the transmission is great and the ride both comfortable and slightly sporty. But it’s the room inside and the quality of the fit and finish that sets the Kodiaq apart from its competitors at Mazda, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia and Nissan. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say the Skoda Kodiaq might just be the benchmark medium SUV