At first glance, the recent MY22 facelift of Skoda’s Kodiaq range doesn’t appear to bring any major change to this likeable challenger on the seven-seat SUV landscape. But that’s new good news on a couple of fronts.
Firstly, the Kodiaq, as a fine product of Skoda’s ‘simply clever’ mantra, was already a damn fine model prior, no major rethinking required.
Secondly, some of its MY22 changes might seem minor, but they polish up areas that make a difference.
For instance, audio controls. Machinery from Skoda – and parent Volkswagen – constantly gets a critical kick for migrating to a button-centric cabin design that lacks the basic convenience of an audio dial.
This one is difficult to backpedal from without excessive remodeling. But for MY22 there’s a new wheel with ingenious thumb rollers. It’s a neat and elegantly simple solution and an improvement for everyday usability.
Skoda has always been like that: smart little details that delight in the long-burn, lived-in experience.
The Kodiaq, for its part in the line-up, certainly hasn’t lacked more obvious, headlining virtues in taking on the likes of Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-8/CX-9, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento – some very tough competition there – or indeed the also recently massaged Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace with which the Skoda shares its bones.
It’s just that small stuff is really what’s underpinned Skoda’s slow-burning rise in popularity with Aussie buyers to date.
That, together with what’s long been a perception of a nabbing Volkswagen-esque quality and goodness in what appears a thriftier deal.
Essentially, tweaks for the three-strong MY22 range – all petrol and all-wheel drive – centre on the feel-good stuff. It brings sharper looks, revised exterior lighting and a focus on massaging the interior to bring a more upmarket vibe.
New features are few, apart from wireless smartphone mirroring and inductive phone charging; although, Kodiaq variants have typically been well-loaded in former guises anyway. Read our launch review here for the full rundown.
On test is the entry 2022 Skoda Kodiaq Style, perhaps the variant that has the toughest task of swimming upstream to the upmarket ponds. Let’s see how it fares.
The Kodiaq Style 4×4 clocks in at $52,990 drive-away. That’s five-grand thriftier than the similarly powered mid-range Sportline 4×4 ($57,990 D/A) and a whopping $22k more affordable than the go-fast Kodiaq RS ($74,990 D/A).
Key petrol rivals include Hyundai Santa Fe V6 ($45,550) and Kia Sorento S ($47,650), though both are front-wheel drive. Mazda’s closet match is the CX-9 Sport AWD ($50,250) while Toyota offers a comparable entry Toyota Kluger GX V6 AWD ($51,650).
Meanwhile, the Tiguan Allspace offers similar 132TSI power in Life trim ($48,590). Bear in mind, though, that these prices are list: the Koreans, for instance, start at around $50k drive-away.
The caveat is that Skoda offers plenty of standalone and bundled options – but start ticking those and the pricing can skyrocket.
For instance, the Tech Pack adds $3000, the Luxury Pack wants for $6500 and that’s outside of the $1900 panoramic sunroof, the $2300 tow bar or $1400 side steps. Metallic paint is $770.
Our well-endowed test vehicle fits Tech and Luxury packs as well as Moon White metallic paint, lifting the drive-away outlay to around $64k.
For an entry-level variant, the Style makes a strong first impression.
Of course, the caveat is that the experience is quite favourably impacted by around $10k of cost-optional augmentation. So the jury remains out on base Kodiaq presentation and comfort.
Regardless of configuration, the Kodiaq cabin remains a clean and stylish design. Bar the hidden start/stop button, where a key barrel is usually located, it’s quite straightforward and intuitive in layout, with an unsurprising whiff of Volkswagen format, execution and material choice.
It’s a little slicker, darker in theme and more modern than some Skoda interior executions in the past. Some of this is a natural upmarket push from designers, and some of it is the effect of the option pack niceties, particularly the stitched dash trim and the perforated leather-trimmed fully-electric front seats.
The optional sporty pews, as well as the new-look wheel and digital window dressing, all contribute to the semi-premium Euro vibe. The textured satin silver-grey trim inserts also help mint an ambience that’s richer than expected for an entry grade car.
Today’s Kodiaq feels suitably contemporary. There’s a nice solidity to its build, precious little in the way of cheap plastic.
It’s an airy cabin, too, at least in the first two seating rows. It’s easy to dial in a quite sporty seating position from the helm without robbing outward visibility and there’s a huge amount of headroom.
Skoda’s choice of digital display graphics and colours are appealing, with ample sense of occasion while remaining easily legible.
The cabin does become quite dark at night or in low light, yet the control illumination is excellent, particularly for those of us with dodgy eyesight.
There are a lot of those clever Skoda touches. You get flocked door bins, including a handy removable garbage cubby, the signature hidden umbrella housed in the door, dual-level storage compartments on the passenger’s side of the dash and device cradles in the back of the front seat headrest for row-two occupants.
Plus there are pop-out door protectors to stop the outer door edge from damage impacted by nearby objects when you open them.
However, there are some key omissions for a $10k-optioned Euro. Why is there no DAB+ given you pay extra for the high-end stereo? And there are no rear USB-C (to compliment the pair up front) outlets despite the fitment of third-row controls.
Row two is quite roomy with the tilt and slide rear bench adjusted for maximum room. And ticked option boxes include outboard seat heating.
But it functions much more convincingly as a five-seater than a seven because the third row is so cramped for legroom.
You can balance the legroom of rows two and three, of course, but the final row is so short that its seatbacks won’t stow without moving row two forward by a few centimetres.
Rearmost access, too, is fairly tricky to negotiate. Neat, though, is that you can drop the centre section of row two – creating a four-seater – if you need to load a long slim object while still accommodating rear passengers.
The rear rows of seating do stow to create an impressively flat load space, converting a scant 270 litres to 765L as a five-seater and offering a huge 2005L as a two-seater.
The retractable cargo shelf is stored neatly under the floor when you don’t need it, and the Kodiaq fits a space-saver spare wheel.
Motivation arrives via the familiar and faithful 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four outputting 132kW at 3900-6000rpm and 320Nm between 1400-3940rpm. It’s paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and variable all-wheel drive.
Its combined fuel consumption claim is 8.2 litres per 100 kilometres, which is very decent for a unit offering this much torque in a vehicle this size, though it is thirstier on paper than the more-powerful, Golf GTI-engined RS version (7.5L/100km). The 132TSI also demands minimum 95 RON premium fuel.
Performance is, at 8.4 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint, pretty respectable. Perhaps just as useful to many owners is the 2000kg braked towing capacity.
In terms of sheer poke, the Kodiaq Style is no slouch, thanks mostly to the healthy torque of the turbocharged four.
Once it’s on the boil, there’s ample thrust regardless of how many loved ones and luggage is on board. Rolling and kickdown acceleration, too, is more than satisfactory.
The powertrain is fine but not rave-worthy. Skoda has decided to stick with the dual-clutch transmission format and while some Volkswagen-related applications have ironed out most of the drivability bugbears, the Kodiaq does drop the ball when it comes to throttle response.
There’s a pause between throttle input and actual progress in Comfort or Normal that constantly calls for tapping the transmission control to activate its alert Sport driveline calibration. But, Sport mode is a bit too enthusiastic to make for progressive driving at low speed or in traffic.
Grumpy driveline apart, the Kodiaq’s driver engagement is quite decent. Steering in clear and direct, it sits nice and flat in the curves, and it generates plenty of grip in the wet or dry from its rubber. It’s a fluid thing to punt and there’s nothing dull and cumbersome about its manner.
In fact, across a country road its dynamic manner is closer to that of a spirited sedan or wagon than it is a large SUV. It doesn’t feel top-heavy leaning into a corner and that feisty Sport mode does suit the bill well when you turn the heat up a bit; though, the extra dull weight it adds to the steering is unnecessary.
Thankfully, there’s an Individual mode where you set various systems to personalised settings.
The trade-off; though, is overly terse suspension even with the optional adaptive damper control fitted and even in its softest Comfort setting.
The suspension offers some reasonable compliance over lumps, but hit a modest hole, road joint or the like and the impact jars through the cabin. It doesn’t matter what mode you’ve selected.
Further, the tyre slap is loud and ever-present across anything bar the smoothest road surfaces. Part of it is the low-profile wheels but most of it seems to be in damping calibration that’s not perfectly attuned to Aussie conditions.
The assistance systems all function as expected and the 360-camera array is very handy when parking in tight spaces. But if there’s a rear annoyance it’s that the proximity sensors are conservatively calibrated and just never shut up.
It’s particularly noticeable and annoying with the passenger side sensing, which suggests that it might be an issue particular to our test machine.
On road, the Kodiaq is fine. It just doesn’t quite muster up the sort of premium experience some of the rest of the package promises.
Kodiaq Style highlights:
- 19-inch alloy wheels
- Space-saver spare
- Power-folding, heated mirrors
- Keyless entry and start
- Powered tailgate
- Automatic headlights and wipers
- Privacy glass, rear window sun blinds
- LED headlights with LED daytime running lights
- Silver roof rails, chrome front grille
- Door edge protectors
- Roof rails
- 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment
- Satellite navigation
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Virtual Cockpit digital instruments
- USB-C points x 2
- Dual-zone climate control
- Leather and leatherette upholstery
- Tablet holders on front seat backs
- Ambient interior and footwell lighting
The Tech Pack ($3000) adds:
- Adaptive chassis control with drive modes
- Canton premium sound system
- Automatic parking assist
- Hands-free power tailgate
- Off-road mode driving assistant
- Sleep package
The Luxury Pack ($6500) adds:
- Matrix LED headlights
- Powered front seats with memory
- Ventilated front seats
- Perforated black leather seats
- Auto-dimming exterior mirrors
- Steering wheel paddles and heating
- Heated front and rear seats
- 360-degree cameras
- Three-zone air-conditioning
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Emergency assist
- Lane-keep assist
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Traffic jam assist
At the time of review, some examples omit certain features due to semi-conductor shortages. These so-called ‘semi-conductor optimised’ versions may lose certain safety, convenience and luxury features, so it’s worth checking with your dealer about what has been included and omitted for specific vehicles.
The Skoda Kodiaq has a five-star rating from ANCAP based on testing conducted on the pre-update model in 2017.
It received an adult occupant protection score of 92 per cent, a child occupant protection score of 77 per cent, a pedestrian protection score of 62 per cent and a safety assist score of 54 per cent.
Standard safety features include:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Adaptive cruise control
- Driver attention monitoring
- 9 airbags incl. driver’s knee
- Reversing camera
- Front and rear parking sensors
Optional features include:
- Blind-spot monitoring*
- Lane-keep assist*
- Rear cross-traffic alert*
- Emergency assist
- Surround-view cameras*
*Features with an ‘*’ next to it indicate that it’s not currently available due to semiconductor-related shortages.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that buyers need to stump up $6500 for the Luxury Pack to add features such as lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. These systems ought to be standard fitment for any family-hauling seven-seater, or indeed any passenger vehicle at this circa-$50k mark.
Again, some safety equipment has been omitted on some ‘semi-conductor optimised’ examples.
The Kodiaq is covered by Skoda’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with complimentary roadside assist.
Service intervals are every 12 months and 15,000kms, whichever comes first. Skoda offers pre-paid servicing packages of $1800 for the first five visits or $2700 for the first seven. However, the basic packages do not include some consumables, such as engine oil.
Minimum fuel required is also premium 95 RON. Against its 8.2L/100km consumption claim, we saw quite a fluctuation between urban and open road driving, though the Kodiaq did settle just under double figures.
This is still relatively good for a petrol-powered seven-seat SUV.
At its core, the Kodiaq is a fine and hugely likeable SUV with plenty of character and Euro flair.
On the surface, it’s easy to get lured by the Style’s amalgamation of design, vibe and neat little feature quirks and sold on seven seats with appealing window dressing – such as the digital instrumentation – for what seems a seductive price.
Thing is, you need to add pricey option bundles to add some fundamental features (particularly safety features) that ought to be standard – even with $10k of extra outlay it still has holes in its equipment list, such as the lack of DAB+ or rear USB ports.
Options on the base Kodiaq get quite pricey. Opt out and the Style does cut corners in features (safety) where a solid and well-rounded SUV shouldn’t.
Stump up and a $10k-optioned base Kodiaq, as strange a notion as that is, is hugely likeable, if more from an emotional than a sensible standpoint.
But if you like its powertrain character, don’t mind a firm ride and don’t need a spacious third row, you shouldn’t look past it as a viable, interesting, feel-good family-hauler.
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MORE: Everything Skoda Kodiaq