Skoda Karoq Review
The Skoda Karoq is a mid-size SUV that’s big on versatility and small on price. It’s also comfortable to drive and extremely spacious.
Published: 9 November 2022
If you’re after a spacious, versatile and family-friendly SUV for five people, look no further than the Skoda Karoq (on sale since 2017 and updated in 2022). Its VarioFlex system gives you a choice of seating arrangements and the option of a huge boot, while a range of economical petrol and diesel engines helps to keep running costs to a minimum. Even the entry-level Karoq comes with a high standard of equipment, which means it offers great value compared with rivals such as the Seat Ateca, Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 3008.
- Spacious and versatile interior
- Fuel-efficient engines
- All versions are well equipped
- Some rivals are more exciting to drive
- No hybrid or plug-in hybrid options
- Interior looks a little plain
Dashboard & tech
All Karoq models have an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display in the middle of the dashboard, and while the entry-level SE trim lacks sat nav, you’ll be able to use your smartphone’s navigation thanks to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Most versions have an excellent touchscreen sat nav system, which became standard across the range as part of a facelift in July 2022. A larger, 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment display with sat nav is found on high-spec models and was an option on most others.
A neat option is the so-called Virtual Cockpit, which replaces the traditional instrument panel with a customisable display. A 10.25-inch display was an option before the 2022 facelift, when an 8-inch digital display became standard across the range. Three dials for the climate control make it easy to adjust the temperature when you’re on the move.
The front seats are comfortable and, like the steering wheel, offer lots of adjustment, so it’s easy to find your perfect driving position. You sit slightly higher than in a standard family hatchback, so it’s easy to see out of the front when driving and out of the back when reversing into a parking space. Rear parking sensors are standard across the range to provide a little extra help, while front parking sensors and a rear-view camera are included as standard on all models except the SE.
Dual-zone climate control, which allows the driver and front-seat passenger to select different temperatures, is standard across the range, while heated front seats are standard on all except the SE trim. The SportLine model has sportier, more upmarket seats with special ‘breathable’ upholstery.
Everything feels solid and well built, but upgrading to one of the high-spec models makes the Karoq feel even more special. Take the popular SE L trim, which has suede upholstery, a heated steering wheel, heated seats, chrome roof rails and even a heated windscreen. These all combine to make you feel like you’re getting much more for your money.
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Practicality & boot space
Despite being roughly the same size as a Volkswagen Golf, the Skoda Karoq feels very spacious inside. There’s room for five people, with the rear bench able to accommodate three children with ease. The additional headroom will come in handy when your toddlers turn into teenagers, and while legroom is tight for tall passengers, there should be enough until your children fly the nest. An advantage of a medium-size SUV over a standard hatchback is how easy it is to enter and exit the car.
Another area in which Skoda scores highly is in interior storage. There’s a lidded compartment on top of the dashboard, door pockets large enough for a drinks bottle and odds and ends, foldable tables on the front-seat backrests, a storage bin between the front seats and a pair of cupholders.
If you’re upgrading from a family hatchback, you might be surprised by the size of the boot. In standard form, the capacity up to the load cover is an impressive 521 litres, which is more than the 504 litres you’ll find in the latest Nissan Qashqai. The boot is also larger than the Seat Ateca (510 litres).
The Karoq has another trick up its sleeve in the form of VarioFlex – this handy feature is standard on higher-spec models and is an option on the rest of the range. VarioFlex is Skoda’s name for three individual back seats that can slide forwards and backwards, fold forward or come out of the car entirely. With all three seats removed, you have a huge amount (1,810 litres) of space available, but the biggest bonus is having the choice of maximum rear legroom or boot space. With the seats pushed forward, the boot extends to 588 litres, but this drops to a still impressive 479 litres with the seats pushed back.
VarioFlex is only standard on models higher up the range, but the Karoq scores highly for versatility in other areas. The boot light doubles up as a removable torch; there’s an ice scraper in the fuel filler cap; an umbrella is stored under the passenger seat; and a grippy-bottomed cupholder enables you to unscrew a bottle cap with one hand. The only negative is the raised boot lip, which makes it slightly tricky to load heavy items into the back.
If you don’t require the use of the middle back seat, it can be folded forward to reveal a pair of cupholders for back-seat passengers.
While some medium-size SUVs feel sportier to drive, the Skoda Karoq is focused on comfort and relaxation. The high driving position and quiet interior make it a relaxing car to drive, whether you’re nipping to the shops for a pint of milk or on a long journey to see the in-laws. The ride isn’t quite as smooth on models with larger alloy wheels, but it’s still a comfortable family car.
Most models allow you to select from a choice of three driving modes, including one to maximise fuel economy and another to make the Karoq feel a little sportier. It’s at its best in normal mode, where you’ll enjoy the soft suspension and smooth performance. Opting for a four-wheel-drive version doesn’t turn the Karoq into a rival for a Land Rover, but you might appreciate the reassurance in bad weather and on slippery roads.
The Karoq is available with several different petrol engines (labelled TSI) and diesel engines (labelled TDI). Of them, the 1.5 TSI is the best all-rounder, with good fuel economy and adequate performance when the car is loaded up with five people and their luggage. A manual gearbox is standard, but the optional seven-speed automatic is more relaxing, especially in traffic and on long journeys.
If you spend most of your time in the city, look at the 1.0 TSI, which is surprisingly quick and almost as economical as a diesel. Speaking of diesel, the 1.6 and 2.0 TDI engines are ideal for long journeys and towing duties. The most powerful 2.0 TDI is the only engine available with four-wheel drive and is perfect for towing a caravan or a large trailer.
Fuel economy & CO2 emissions
According to official figures, the 2.0 TDI diesel engine can give 46.2mpg to 59.4mpg depending on the power, gearbox and whether it’s front- or four-wheel drive. On paper, the old 1.6 TDI engine is more economical, but because it requires more work to get the best from it, you could find that the 2.0 TDI is more fuel-efficient. Four-wheel drive will increase the number of times you have to fill up, so ask yourself if you really need it.
Petrol models can give you up to 48.6mpg if you opt for the 1.0 TSI, or 46.3mpg if you choose the 1.5 TSI. In all cases, the manual versions are more economical than those with an automatic transmission.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions vary from 142g/km in the most efficient petrol model to 177g/km in the most powerful, four-wheel-drive diesel Karoq. Vehicle Excise Duty (VED, or car tax) costs £165 a year, or £520 if the car costs more than £40,000 when new.
Value for money
Although the Karoq is more expensive than an equivalent family hatchback, it offers better value for money than many of its medium-size SUV rivals. This is thanks to its keen pricing and good standard of equipment. The SportLine and old Scout models are the most expensive; the mid-range SE L offers the best value.
Reliability & Warranty
Skoda finished second in the latest J.D. Power UK Vehicle Dependability Study in 2019, so there are few carmakers with a better reputation for reliability. Its dealers also scored highly for customer service.
The three-year/60,000-mile warranty is average for the class, especially when you consider that Hyundai offers cover for five years and unlimited mileage.
The Skoda Karoq was awarded a maximum five-star rating when it was assessed by the safety organisation Euro NCAP in 2017. It scored particularly well for adult and child safety, but newer rivals offered a better range of driver assistance systems designed to prevent an accident.
All models have Isofix points for mounting child seats in the outer back seats, with Isofix for the front passenger seat available as an option. Standard features include multiple airbags, automatic braking, pedestrian monitor, driver fatigue sensor, automatic headlights, cruise control with speed limiter and automatic wipers.
A new options pack called Travel Assist Package Plus arrived for the SportLine model as part of the 2022 facelift. This includes adaptive cruise control, collision alert with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection, traffic sign recognition, lane assist and traffic jam assist.
Trims & Engines
Many trim levels are available for the Karoq, along with a couple of distinct models. One is the SportLine, which has a sportier appearance and some of the most desirable features available on the Karoq. The Scout has been discontinued, but four-wheel drive, an off-road mode and some rugged cosmetic upgrades make it ideal for light off-roading.
As for the others, even the now-discontinued SE trim features a long list of equipment as standard, but most buyers opt for the mid-range SE L. Highlights include 18-inch alloy wheels; heated steering wheel, front seats and windscreen; VarioFlex seating; sat nav; front and rear parking sensors; rear-view camera; and keyless entry.
The Karoq is available with one of three petrol engines or one of two diesel engines. A 109bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine might seem underpowered, but it’s perfect for short trips in the city and an occasional long journey. A 2.0-litre TSI petrol was available on the SportLine model, but while it offered strong performance, it was let down by poor fuel economy, which makes the 1.5-litre petrol the sweet spot of the petrol range.
If you’re after excellent fuel economy and towing capabilities, choose the 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine. It’s only marginally less economical than the old 1.6 TDI, but it’s great for long journeys, carrying a lot of luggage or towing a caravan.
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