Skoda Karoq review 2022

One of the best all-round family SUVs. Very practical, but a shame there’s no hybrid model.
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Quick overview

  • Great all-rounder
  • High quality cabin feel
  • Comfort and refinement
  • Slightly bland looks
  • 1.5 TSI engine disappoints
  • Not as sharp to drive as a Ford Kuga
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Where the Skoda Yeti was unashamedly, boldly different from the herd in its looks, the Karoq is a much more measured family SUV. That might seem like a retrograde step for the Czech firm when so many of its competitors have subsequently launched rivals with daring looks, such as the Peugeot 3008, Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Tuscon. However, Skoda knows its stuff and its customers, so the Karoq is a car designed to fulfil their needs with laser-like precision.

As a result, the Karoq is neatly styled rather than stand-out and there is a Sportline model for anyone who wants a more athletic look to their car with its bigger bumpers and alloy wheels. However, it’s the Karoq’s restrained looks that appeal to so many who want an SUV but without the perceived attitude they car receive from others. It’s the SUV you can drive with a clear conscience.

This is why Skoda has opted to make the Karoq very easy, undemanding and relaxing to drive. It’s not an off-roader, but there is the option of four-wheel drive if you choose the 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine. It pays off, too, as the Karoq is very comfortable and stable on the motorway, while in town it’s easy to pilot along densely packed streets. The suspension mops up bumps and dips with considered aplomb, and it handles neatly. It’s a very grown-up, pleasant car to be in charge of.

As well as the 150hp 2.0-litre turbodiesel motor in 116- and 150hp power outputs, there are the usual Volkswagen Group engines used in VW, SEAT, Audi and Skoda models. As a result, the Karoq is offered with a 110hp 1.0-litre, three-cylinder TSI turbo petrol and a 150hp 1.5-litre TSI. Quickest of the entire Karoq range is the 2.0-litre TSI petrol with 190hp and this also comes with four-wheel drive as standard.

Infotainment, comfort and practicality

Skoda and practical cabins are a natural fit, and the Karoq does plenty to reinforce this association. Step into the driver’s seat through the wide-opening door and you find a seat that offers a raised position for that important SUV feel and good all-round view. You can adjust the seat for height, while the steering wheel moves for depth and angle to help fine tune the car to your preferences. With that done, you’ll also find the seat offers plenty of support. It’s quite firmly padded, but the shape is nigh on perfect for all-day use without any niggles or aches.

Those in the front of the Karoq are provided with plenty of space, even for those six feet tall and more. Move into the back of the Skoda and it’s equally generous for this class of car and two adults will have no trouble spending a journey here. Three kids can fit and there’s a trio of three-point seatbelts, plus Isofix mounts on the two outer seats. A useful option to have in the Karoq is the VarioFlex rear seating, which is standard on higher trim models. It swaps the 60-40 split and fold rear bench for a more versatile 40-20-40 arrangement.

In the boot, you get 588-litres of space with the rear seats occupied by people. This is the sort of space that means you don’t need to worry about fitting in that last bag when packing for a holiday, and it can be extended to 1630-litres with the rear seats folded flat. There are also the usual carrying hooks and rails to secure loads that Skoda does so well in all of its cars.

The boot is just like the rest of the Karoq in that it’s made from tough, durable materials. They may not look quite as plush as a VW’s or MINI Countryman’s, but they will last and endure everything family life can throw at them.

This no-nonsense approach also sums up the Karoq’s infotainment system. There are more sophisticated set-ups in many of its rivals, but the Skoda’s is quick and easy to get to grips with, and it is less distracting to use on the move. All models come with sat-nav now, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to pair with your smartphone. Every Karoq comes with the 8-inch Amundsen touchscreen as standard and it’s perfectly up to the job. If you want the larger 9.2-inch Columbus screen, it’s only available with the SE L and Sportline models, and it's expensive but does also come with the Virtual Cockpit digital dash screen in place of the usual dials. A cheaper route is to upgrade with the Amundsen Package Plus that provides wireless phone charging, Virtual Cockpit, and internet access.

2018 Skoda Karoq engines: how does it drive?

The Skoda Karoq is a very competent, capable family SUV to drive, ticking all of the boxes that its likely owners are ever going to want. Where a Ford Kuga or SEAT Ateca feel a little more sporty, or a Range Rover Evoque comes with a touch more comfort, the Skoda settles in the middle ground. It’s not a compromise, more a case of picking the best elements of the differing approaches of its rivals and combining them together. As a consequence, the Karoq has a very safe, secure feel in corners. There’s some body lean, but not enough to upset children riding in the back seats, and the steering offers just the right amount of feel and response to let you place the car precisely but without any unwanted kickback over mid-bend ruts and ridges.

Every version of the Karoq copes very well with uneven road surfaces, smoothing them out with a calm sense of purpose even if the car is fitted with the larger wheel options. This also translates into less road noise than you experience in some rivals, especially when they are fitted with bigger wheels and low profile tyres. Couple that to low levels of wind and engine noise inside the car and the Skoda is one of the most refined SUVs in its class. That refinement can also be felt in the controls as the driver uses them. The pedals are weighted so you don’t need any excessive pressure and the gear lever moves with a solidity that imparts a feel of quality every time you use it. Even the indicator stalk has a satisfyingly positive click when it’s moved up or down.

The engine line-up begins with the 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol and comes with 110hp in the entry-point Karoq. For most drivers, this will be all the power and performance you’ll need as it feels brisk enough as you pull away. It’s only available with a six-speed manual gearbox, so if you want an automatic you’ll have to upgrade to the 1.5 TSI motor that has 150hp. It’s offered with a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox, or the six-speed auto. Opt for the 190hp 2.0 TSI petrol and Skoda only builds this with the automatic transmission, which is just fine thanks to its power and considerable turn of pace. It also comes with four-wheel drive as standard in its Sportline trim.

Unlike some of its rivals, Skoda continues to offer diesel engine options in the Karoq. The 2.0-litre TDi comes in 116- and 150hp forms and each can be ordered with a six-speed manual or the seven-speed auto gearbox. If you want the four-wheel drive version, you are locked in to the more powerful engine and the auto ’box, but you at least have a choice of SE L or Sportline trims with this Karoq model.

Value for money: how much does a 2018 Skoda Karoq cost to buy and run?

SE Drive trim is the gateway to the Skoda Karoq range and price start at £26,255 for the 1.0 TSI version, while the 1.5 TSI costs from £27,605 and a diesel version begins at £28,795. The SE Drive comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, rear parking sensors, climate control, and all of the usual airbags you’d expect plus a driver’s knee ’bag. An 8-inch Amundsen touchscreen operates the infotainment and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also cruise control with speed limiter, and Front Assist to react to hazards in an emergency.

Choose a Karoq in SE L trim and prices begin from £28,090, which nets you added equipment such as 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome roof rails, heated front seats, and rear VarioFlex seats. You also get microsuede upholstery, front parking sensors, rear view camera, keyless entry and ignition, and Skoda’s Drive Select modes with off-road function for the four-wheel drive versions. The Sportline trim takes a sporty approach from £32,140, bringing its own design of alloy wheel, a panoramic sunroof, different front and back bumpers, front sports seats, and an electrically powered tailgate.

If you’re after a used Karoq, price for a four-year old car with average miles under its wheels is around £15,500. A nearly new Karoq can be had from £21,000, or you could haggle around £1000 of the price of a new car from a Skoda dealer.

Running a Karoq should not impose any financial hardship thanks to 48.7mpg combined economy for the 1.0 TSI model with manual gearbox. It emits 132g/km of carbon dioxide. The 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine in 116hp form offers an average consumption of 58.9mpg and 125g/km CO2 output, while the 150hp diesel manages 57.7mpg and 128g/km. The 2.0 TSI petrol model is less appealing thanks to 37.2mpg and 173g/km of emissions. All of this means the Karoq falls into company car tax bands between 30- and 37%, and it’s not helped by there being no hybrid option.

Verdict: Should I buy a 2018 Skoda Karoq?

The Skoda Karoq is a very sound choice for private owners thanks to its affordable running costs, comfort and spacious cabin. All of these elements will also appeal to business drivers, but they may be put off by the Skoda’s emissions that force it into higher company car tax bands than many of the Karoq’s rivals that have a hybrid power option.

This should not dismiss the Karoq from your consideration, though. It’s a very well made SUV that drives particularly well for this class thanks to its refinement and balanced handling. It’s also superbly refined at all speeds and over all types of road, so it’s ideal for longer journeys, while the interior offers a lot of room for passengers and luggage.

With a four-wheel drive option, the Karoq is a very able family SUV that comes with a long list of standard kit in all trim levels.

What could I buy instead of a 2018 Skoda Karoq?

Nissan Qashqai

The car credited with kick-staring the whole family SUV market remains one of the best-sellers and rightly so in its latest iteration. It’s a striking car to look at and has a well thought out cabin, and it has plenty of space for all of the family plus your luggage. Hybrid power makes the Qashqai very much on-trend, though you do have to get used to the slow pick-up of the engine when coupled to the manual gearbox. Also, the Qashqai is nowhere near as refined as the Skoda when driving at higher speeds. Even so, the Nissan is a key player thanks to low running costs.

Dacia Duster

No frills SUVs don’t come any less frillier than the Dacia Duster, and the Romanian-made car is all the better for it. There’s all you need in a Duster and it’s possible to order a trim level with enough goodies so you don’t feel left out. Along with this strong value for money ethos, Dacia also provides a cabin with lots of room for people and cargo, plus you feel the Duster is a bit more able to cope with driving on rugged terrain than most of its competitors. The downside is the cabin also feels quite low-grade compared to the class average.

Jeep Compass

The Jeep badge carries a lot of credibility when it comes to SUVs and the Compass is certainly one of the most able in this sector for off-roading. If that’s what you need from your car, then the Compass will be a sound choice. It also comes with a good level of standard equipment and a cabin that offers up more space than most of its rivals. However, the Jeep has a much smaller boot than the Skoda and its refinement lags well behind the Karoq. Much of this is down to the Compass’ rowdy engine.