Skoda Kodiaq (2017 - 2021) used car review

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By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

This Skoda Kodiaq broke new ground for its brand from launch in 2017 and offered a well-priced, high quality alternative for buyers in search of a stylish mid-sized SUV with seven-seat versatility. Thoughtful design, a spacious cabin, efficient running costs and a range of distinctly Skoda 'Simply Clever' features are all among this model's attractions. Here, we look at the pre-facelift 2017-2021-era models from a used perspective.

Models

5dr SUV (1.4 TSI, 1.5 TSI, 2.0 TDI, 2.0 Bi-TDI)

History

In the years after Skoda introduced its compact Yeti Crossover model back in 2009, many often wondered what a full-sized SUV from the Czech brand might be like. In 2017, they got their answer with this car, the Kodiaq, a contender that in true Skoda style, aimed to offer more for less.

Here, you got up to seven seats for the same or less money than you'd pay for many SUVs that could only offer space for five - Volkswagen's Tiguan and upper-spec versions of SEAT's Ateca for example. We mention these two because they shared much with this Skoda - the same engine, the same 4WD system and much the same stiff, sophisticated MQB chassis. The Kodiaq though, was a more spacious, family-orientated option that was able to more directly target seven-seat mid-sized SUVs like Nissan's X-Trail and Mitsubishi's Outlander. While offering the kind of quality customers would pay much more for in something like a Kia Sorento or a Land Rover Discovery Sport.

That was important. A big, spacious Skoda wouldn't have been anything especially new, but one delivering much of the kind of premium feel and up-market technology previously limited to more expensive brands was certainly going to create a lot of customer interest - and did.

Need more convincing? What if we told you it's styled by the guy who did the Bugatti Veyron, it's tough enough to take on proper off road trails and it's the lightest and therefore the most efficient car in its class from its period. In short, you get the idea: Skoda certainly didn't go at this half-heartedly. And the Kodiaq was quickly improved too. In 2018, a more rugged-looking 'Scout' version was launched, followed a year later by the sporting vRS variant with a throaty 240PS Bi-TDI diesel engine. By then, the base 1.4 TSI petrol unit had been replaced by a more efficient 1.5 TSI powerplant too. In mid-2021, Skoda facelifted the entire range, but it's the pre-facelift 2017-2021-era models we look at here.

What You Get

It turned out that Skoda's sharp, clean-cut design language translated very well into the kind of purposeful premium look required of a modern full-sized SUV. Back in 2017, the Kodiaq was just 40mm longer than the Czech brand's Octavia family hatch, yet looks far larger, with striking styling supposed to convey an impression of protection and strength.

Behind the wheel, the Kodiaq design team delivered the classiest Skoda cabin yet made. Getting comfortable is easy and in the instrument binnacle large dials flank a useful central trip computer display. Much of the information this delivers can be more graphically provided by the classy centre-dash infotainment screen, provided in 8-inch form in plusher models but offered in 6.5-inch guise with lesser trim levels. Either way, an included Smartlink' system allows you to access the 'Apple CarPlay' or 'Android Auto'/'MirrorLink' systems and if you've a set-up fitted out with the Navigation/wi-fi package, you'll be able to make full use of the clever connectivity functions provided by the Czech brand's 'Skoda Connect' app.

And in the rear? Well the second row bench features all the versatility you'd want from this kind of seven-seat SUV, so the backrest reclines for greater comfort on long journeys and the base slides back and forth by up to 180mm. So, what's it like in the third row? Well there, you're quickly reminded that this is an SUV, not an MPV. Overall though, the space in the very back isn't really any more restricted than it would be in any other mid-sized SUV of this kind - and uncomplaining adults joining you for short journeys will probably be quite glad of it.

What about cargo capacity? With the tailgate raised, a huge aperture is revealed, complete with a usefully low loading sill. Most of the time, owners of seven-seat Kodiaq models are probably going to be using their cars with the rearmost seats folded into the floor, an action easy and simple to complete. In which case there's 630-litres of space on offer with the middle row sensibly positioned. Fold the second row bench and a class leadingly-large 2,005-litre space is revealed (or 2,065-litres in a five seat-only model).

What You Pay

Prices start from around £16,300 (around £18,400 retail), which is what you'll pay for an early '17-plate base-spec 'S' model with the 1.4 TSI petrol engine; allow £1,200 more for plusher 'SE' trim. Later base petrol models have the more efficient 1.5-litre TSI unit; a '21-plate pre-facelift 1.5 TSI 'SE Drive' values at around £24,800 (around £27,200 retail). If you want a diesel, prices start from around £20,300 (around £22,500 retail), which gets you an early '17-plate 2.0 TDI 150PS 'SE' DSG auto model. A later '21-plate version of the same car values at around £27,400 (around £30,200 retail). If you want the top Kodiaq vRS Bi-Turbo TDI model (only sold between 2019 and 2020), you're looking at around £34,499 (around £37,200 retail) for an early '19-plate car, with values rising to around £37,700 (around £41,000 retail) for one of the last '20-plate models. All quoted values are sourced through industry experts cap hpi. Click here for a free valuation.

What to Look For

Our ownership survey came up with a few things. In some cases, the door handles creak when you grab them. We've also heard of issues with the front assist sensors and the trunk cover which occasionally is stopped from rolling back. Other owners have reported premature wear of wheels, rattling sounds and parts of the upholstery coming apart. Check out all the electrics. In one case the key fob opening only the tailgate halfway. There have also been issues with door guards jamming out and getting knocked off. There have also been some reported issues with the Mirrorlink aspect of the infotainment system, so make sure that the screen pairs properly to your smart phone. Otherwise, it's just the usual things: signs of interior child damage and the interior scratches and the alloy wheels caused through poor parking. Insist on full service history.

There are a few product recalls we should tell you about. For models made in 2019, there was a recall regarding the belt pulley securing ring of the steering system, which in a few cases wasn't fully engaged. On 2020 models, due to a manufacturing error, there are a few cases in which the brake pedal plate may not been adequately welded and may be deformed and completely detached. For models made between 2020 and 2022, there was a recall regarding engine design covers that might come loose from their attachment. Make sure that the Kodiaq you're looking at has had all of these recall issues addressed.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 2018 Kodiaq 2.0 TDI vRS excl. VAT) A pair of front brake pads are around £46; rears are around £20-£67. A pair of front brake discs start at about £186; rears are around £96-£100. A thermostat is around £28. Air filters sit in the £9-£22 bracket. Oil filters cost around £6-£13. A wiper blade is around £5-£19. A water pump is around £103. A rear lamp is around £142-£229. A pollen filter is around £8-£9.

On the Road

Even in the modern era, big spacious seven-seat SUVs have a reputation for handling with all the dynamic finesse of a Channel ferry. As do big Skodas. It's pleasantly surprising then, to find that the Kodiaq is actually quite an agile thing by class standards, its relatively light weight and rigid chassis delivering decent body control through the turns, though you'd better appreciate that if the steering felt more responsive. Another noticeable trait lies in the way that the four-link rear suspension set-up provides a firm-ish quality of ride that's a world away from the soft floaty springing you'd get in the Czech brand's similarly priced Superb Estate. Plus you can improve it if you get a car that was fitted with the optional 'DCC' 'Dynamic Chassis Control' adaptive damping package. This works through the settings of the 'Drive Mode Select' system that was provided on most models, a package able to alter steering feel and throttle response - plus gearshift timings if you've chosen a variant fitted with the brand's 7-speed DSG auto gearbox.

4WD was another popular option, the usual Volkswagen Group on-demand set-up that cuts in when lack of traction demands it. It's a system that features on virtually all models further up the range and one that comes with a selectable 'Off Road' mode that focuses all the car's electronic systems for 'off piste' use. As for engines, well Skoda structured the line-up so that almost all buyers will end up going for a 150PS unit - either a 1.4-litre TSI petrol powerplant (later replaced by a 1.5-litre TSI unit) or, more likely, a 2.0-litre TDI diesel. In 4x4 manual form, that mainstream TDI derivative manages 52.3mpg on the combined cycle and 141g/km of CO2 (both NEDC figures). Other powerplants on offer include an entry-level 125PS version of the 1.4-litre TSI petrol unit and a de-tuned 115PS version of the 2.0 TDI diesel. Buyers of flagship variants choose between a 180PS 2.0 TSI petrol engine or the 2.0 TDI engine in uprated 190PS form. The top 2.0 TSI unit featured in the flagship vRS sporting variant, a Bi-TDI powerplant boasting 240PS.

Overall

Skoda took its time in expanding its SUV line-up, but what was finally delivered with this Kodiaq iin 2017 was a very complete product indeed. Comparably-priced rival seven-seat models from the 2017-2021 period often find it difficult to compete with the quality, the practicality, the efficiency and the media connectivity on offer here. And even if you compare this Czech contender against considerably more expensive competitors that can offer some or all of those attributes, there are still plenty of things about it that you'll find you can't help liking.

There are the obvious things; the efficient engine range and the huge standards of seats-folded space. But for us, a lot of the appeal lies in the little detail features. Take the umbrellas in the doors that'll be so welcome when you've set out ill-equipped for a rainy day. Or the way the audio system amplifies your voice so you don't have to bellow at kids in the very back. All of which means one thing: if you've a growing family, a sensible budget and a desire for the style of an SUV, the Kodiaq's a car you can't ignore.

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