The seven-seat Skoda Kodiaq’s no spring chicken, but now with the added appeal of Skoda’s seven-year warranty, is it an underrated family car?
The Skoda Kodiaq Sportline has a clever, uncommon trick of appealing to your sensible and naughty sides.
It’s a large SUV with just 132kW on tap, so won’t be lusted after by performance-seekers. Adventurous folk won’t be enticed either: maximum towing capacity is not crash hot (2000kg with 80kg downball limit), nor will the 4×4 Kodiaq take you far off road.
Instead, this largest of Skodas snares the stares of mums and dads whose lives have been swallowed whole by parenting duties. Yet – and this is the important bit – said parents haven’t given up on their cool, fun-seeking and style-driven younger years, distant though they may be.
The Skoda Kodiaq is a seven seater, so it can handle the child output of superbreeders, and as soon as child #2 arrives (sometimes #1 is enough), a large SUV seemingly becomes default choice for Australian parents.
Quality rival SUVs are plentiful, and the Skoda Kodiaq remains something of an outlier. The too-cool-for-school choice, perhaps.
But there are reasons you’d specifically go Kodiaq. A Toyota Kluger Hybrid’s too damn sensible, while Mazda CX-9s, Hyundai Santa Fes and Kia Sorentos already fill the soccer club car parks. You want to be different.
The Subaru Outback’s rugged rather than racy, and you covet some Euro style anyway. So you choose a Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace. But no. You could get the Big Bear Skoda instead – still a VW Group product, but the more rebellious choice: looks-wise and badge-wise.
The Sportline we’re testing is a decent middle ground between the two. Sure, you’d love the RS. But you’re a family man/woman now and can’t justify that $15k extra purchase price, nor the heftier running costs.
But your naughty side bubbling away approves the $5000 extra spend to secure a Sportline over the Style, because you get sexier wheels, edgier body styling, LED lights and Alcantara cabin trim.
The Kodiaq range received a decent update in March last year, but be aware a new generation model should reach our shores in early 2024. The Skoda Kodiaq is the largest of the current lineup of three Skoda SUV models, with the range also including the Kamiq and Karoq.
While Skoda Kodiaq prices keep bumping up, last September it became the first European brand to offer a permanent seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. That, plus the option of reasonable pre-pay service packs, tick a few sensible boxes.
General inclusions are good, but Skoda is pretty keen on cost options packs, and they’re not cheap.
That’s fine – let the customer have the choice – but sticking point is some key safety features missing unless you commit to an option pack. For a $50k+ family SUV in 2023, the full safety suite should be first on the team sheet, no matter the grade.
All Skoda Kodiaq models have seven seats.
All models in the Skoda Kodiaq range have all wheel drive – badged 4×4 – and the Style and Sportline use a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine good for 132kW and 320Nm, mated to a seven-speed dual clutch DSG (wet clutch) auto gearbox.
For reference, the Kodiaq RS’s turbo petrol offers 180kW and 370Nm, and drops the 0-100km/h time from the Style and Sportline’s 8.4 seconds to 6.6 seconds.
Entry-level Styles score 19-inch alloys, LED headlamps and daytime running lights, rear LED taillights with animated indicators, silver roof rails, chrome front grille, Skoda logo welcome light and auto tailgate.
Inside are ventilated leather seats, sports leather steering wheel, privacy glass, a digital driver display, 9.2-inch infotainment screen with navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging, two USB-C inputs and ambient lighting.
Added to those, our more extrovert Sportline has 20-inch alloys, full Matrix LED headlights, fog lights with cornering function and Sportline body design package. This means plenty of blackness: door mirrors, roof rails, window frames, radiator grille frame and tailgate lettering.
Move inside the Sportline and there’s Alcantara leather sport seats with silver stitching, Alcantara door panels, DSG paddles behind the steering wheel, sporty aluminium pedals, drive mode selector with customisable performance monitor, black dashboard décor, electric adjustment for the driver’s seat with memory function, and handy luggage nets.
Things you miss out on – and the flagship RS includes – are adaptive dampers, an off-road mode, RS bumpers, red calipers, leather-coated sport seats with red stitching, heating for four chairs, ventilation and electric adjust for front seats, carbon-look dash trim, panoramic sunroof, surround-view camera, tri-zone air con and hands-free tailgate. It’s loaded.
But, Sportline shoppers, you can peruse the options and score some key RS kit. For $2100 the Tech Pack is hard to look past, mainly for the Dynamic Chassis bringing the RS’s adaptive dampers. Softer in town, stiffer on backroads – they work well, too.
Also thrown in is park assist, hands-free tailgate, off-road mode and a pair of manual window shades in the second row.
For $2500 a Luxury Pack adds the tri-zone air con, surround view camera, power and heated front seats and lane assist with adaptive lane guidance. The latter you can buy on its own for $1250, a panoramic sunroof costs $1900, side steps $1400.
Metallic colours cost an extra $770, while a premium Velvet Red is an additional $1100.
Put the shoe in and you’ll keep waiting for the Sport in Sportline to appear. Its 132kW is asked to shift a lot of weight (1750kg before the family climbs aboard), and although peak torque arrives from just 1400rpm, the petrol four-cylinder turbo soon runs out of puff.
But quit your complaining. If you want performance, the petrol Skoda Kodiaq RS (it used to be powered by a torquier diesel engine) is your pick. We’ve gone Sportline for the purposeful looks and style, not raw acceleration figures.
Besides, the engine is at its best during urban duties or highway cruising, which are typical Kodiaq hunting grounds. In town it feels eager and even zippy for such a biggie, but you need the seven-speed DSG to be on your side.
Skoda’s (and VW’s) dual-clutch is a gem when up to speed – when you’re clipping along the response and cog shifts are seriously quick and fluid. At low speeds, or from standstill, it displays a lazier side.
There’s an occasional bout of jerkiness, and when pulling out of junctions or onto a roundabout the will to move is often too sluggish. Taking charge of the steering paddles and moving into Sport remedies much of the lethargy.
It’s more fuss-free at 110km/h. It’s a brilliantly quiet and supple-riding big rig on the highway, ideal for the family road trip.
Its radar cruise control is up there with the best I’ve tested, and while I’m quick to criticise a lack of lane-keep technology as standard for a family SUV, at least it keeps the drive serene with no invasive beeps or steering tugs.
Our tester was fitted with optional adaptive chassis, allowing you to flick between drive modes and adjust suspension damping. Comfort mode means a lovely, massaging ride, spoiled only on occasion by bigger road bumps felt through skinny (235/45 R20) Pirelli Scorpion rubber.
If you find a good back road, sling it in Sport mode and – engine guts aside – it’s a handy corner carver. Damping stiffens, while steering, throttle response and gears feel sharper, and the Skoda Kodiaq 4×4 does a solid turn in handling, balance and grip.
Certainly it’s one of the more composed large SUVs to chuck around, but is many pegs down from the excitement of its RS big brother.
The Sportline has progressive steering as standard, adjusting the steering angle required depending on scenarios.
Steering forces are reduced at city speeds so minimal driver effort’s needed, while steering angle is small at higher speeds, giving a decent feel of quick response. The fact you barely notice it working is praise enough.
The Skoda Kodiaq is no giant, imposing 4×4. It’s classified a large SUV, but could be mistaken for a mid-sizer. Typical of Skoda, the interior packaging’s smart, roomy and practical. It feels seriously spacious inside, although the final two of the seven seats are best left for little people.
The cabin’s a blend of luxury and sportiness, and the dashboard’s of nice spongy soft plastic.
The Alcantara seat coating feels superb, and combined with red details through the digital dash, door light strips and ambient lighting, the raciness factor is high. Seats themselves are relatively firm, but well bolstered.
Dash layout’s familiar VW Group, and that’s a good thing. Above the chunky gear shifter are proper buttons and knobs for climate, leaving the 9.2-inch screen free to concentrate on the infotainment.
The flat-bottom steering wheel’s a chunky unit; faux carbon fibre dash trim suits the scene and the digital dashboard has a fair level of customisability without being Audi-level fancy.
A wireless phone charger to go with wireless CarPlay and Android Auto worked perfectly on test, and a charging box in front of the gear shifter’s well placed and large enough for phablets.
Door storage is roomy, carpeted and feature a waste bin (all cars should copy Skoda here), but bizarrely the centre console cup holders won’t accommodate a sports water bottle or coffee keep cup.
That’s simply not clever. Umbrellas in the front doors, just like a Rolls-Royce, win back clever points.
Family use is compromised by no USB ports in either the second row or third row. Better are second row air vents, and these seats recline and move back and forward on runners – excellent versatility.
Middle row head and leg room is generous, but a six-foot adult will struggle with the centre seat’s higher, firmer seat base.
It’s a mission accessing the third row of seats. With a middle row seat back folded forward you’ll need yoga skills to get into the very back.
Head room in the third row is too low for most adults – leg room’s okay with the middle row slid forward – so these chairs are best seen as a kids only zone.
With all seats in place there are still 270 litres of boot space – good for a few shopping bags. If used as a five seater with the very rear seats folded (the two rear seats fold rapidly with a handle) there’s a whopping 765L boot space to fill.
With just front seats up you’ve got a van-like 2005 litres of boot space – ideal for bikes or Ikea runs. Again, Skoda’s packaging is standout to realise such numbers.
Our tester had been furnished with options packs, and they do help the Sportline feel very special. Love your kids? Adding a panoramic roof, heated rear seats, sun blinds and foot rests will get you in their good books.
But our car’s near $10,000 of optional extras pushed it close to Skoda Kodiaq RS pricing. If you’re ready to option the lot on your Sportline, it’s probably worth committing to the Daddy of the range and revel in RS performance goodness.
The Skoda Kodiaq was awarded a maximum 5 stars with ANCAP on its 2017 test with the following results:
Adult occupant safety aside, those scores aren’t great. On its 2017 test, the Skoda Kodiaq lost many points for no lane support systems as standard.
In 2023, Skoda’s Lane Assist with adaptive lane guidance and emergency assist remains only available in the $2500 Luxury Pack.
You’re also asked for $1250 to add Side Assist (blind spot monitor) with rear cross traffic alert – two of the most useful driver aids. All these things not being standard, in a $50k+ family focused SUV, is poor form.
Positively, standard safety features fitted to the Skoda Kodiaq include:
Impressively, Skoda’s distanced itself from the bulk of its rivals (Kia and Mitsubishi being obvious exceptions) with a lengthy seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
Servicing can be pre-paid so you’re not subject to price rises in future years. A five-year service plan is $2200 or it’s $3200 for seven years. That’s reasonable for a large 4×4, and a decent sweetener for the next owner if you decide to sell before the plan expires.
Skoda also offers a service and maintenance subscription – a pay as you go sort of idea.
You need to deep dive Skoda’s website explaining it all, as there are three different subscription plans, then you choose, based on your projected annual mileage, which ‘tier’ you suit. Prices range from $59 per month up to $318 per month.
The turbo petrol engine fitted to the Skoda Kodiaq demands pricier 95RON fuel, and its average fuel efficiency of 8.2L/100km is on the thirsty side. Our test returned 9.1L/100km fuel consumption overall, 8.0L/100km on the highway and over 10L/100km in town.
Despite being just a year away from an all-new generation model, the Kodiaq continues to impress as a versatile, desirable and lovely-to-drive family SUV. Its good looks still hold up, especially in this more athletic Sportline all wheel drive guise.
Its user-friendly dashboard, versatile family seating and clever cargo space are all wins, but the big Skoda now lags behind many rivals for standard tech and safety inclusions. The seven-year warranty is, however, some compensation.
Ride and handling impress, but you’ll need the Skoda Kodiaq RS for meaningful performance, or a rival like the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 162TSI R-Line. The Kodiaq Sportline’s certainly more show than go, but considering its expected family duties, speed is not of the essence.
The Sportline’s dashing looks and cossetting, classy cabin make it an SUV you’d be proud to own.
Resist going trigger happy on options and packs and its price remains sensible, although $2100 for the adaptive damper-bringing Tech Pack would be our pick of the upgrades.
The Tiguan Allspace Monochrome is part of Volkswagen Australia’s solution to supply issues, deleting equipment to get buyers into a 162TSI more quickly
Key specs (as tested)
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Skoda Kodiaq 2022: blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and Canton audio still affected by chip shortage
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