Currently reading: Skoda Karoq: why it's a 5-star What Car? family SUV
We explore the key reasons why our sister title has such high regard for Skoda’s large family-sized SUV

The popularity of family SUVs has skyrocketed in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. They offer rugged standout style, a commanding high-rise driving position, and all of the versatile family-friendly practicality you could ever need. But, with so many models to choose from, how do you know which SUV is a cut above the rest? 

Well, our sister title What Car? judges cars based on what matters most to consumers. So a five-star What Car? review is a good place to start – and that’s exactly what the Skoda Karoq has got. “The Skoda Karoq is a top-drawer family SUV with clever seating options, a big boot, and plenty of space inside for passengers,” What Car? said in its comprehensive and exacting road-test. “It’s also a pleasure to drive, thanks to its comfortable ride and great visibility, and it has a well-made interior.” 

In addition to being awarded top marks in its What Car? review, the Skoda Karoq has also scooped a handful of accolades for value and practicality in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards in recent years. So, to find out exactly why the award-winning Skoda Karoq should be firmly at the top of your family SUV shortlist, we’ve decided to delve deep into the five big reasons why What Car? says it’s a five-star car.

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#1 Impressive interior

No car can hope to achieve a coveted five-star What Car? rating without having a top-notch interior – somewhere that’s comfortable, spacious, well-built and packed with the latest technology. So, naturally, that’s where we’ll start.

“You shouldn't have any problems getting comfortable in the Skoda Karoq, whatever your size or shape,” What Car? said. “All versions have front seat height and lumbar adjustment, plus there's plenty of up-and-down and in-and-out steering wheel movement. You’ll also enjoy good seat support and a relatively high driving position. Although the Skoda Karoq is no skyscraping Range Rover, you sit appreciably higher than you do in the Mazda CX-30, let alone in conventional hatchbacks.”


Read our review

Car review

Skoda's mid-sized SUV is smaller than some but goes big on practicality features and still offers both diesel engines and mechanical all-wheel drive

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Alongside driver seat configurability, What Car? also gave the Skoda Karoq plaudits for its easy-to-navigate dashboard and intuitive technology. “Driving is made easy by well-sited, sensibly grouped buttons and switches on the dashboard, and the crisp digital instrument cluster. We like the wealth of information that the Virtual Cockpit can show (as part of the Amundsen Package Plus), including a full-screen map.

“Regardless of trim level, the Skoda Karoq comes with an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system as standard. It gives you clear graphics, has a simple operating system, and is one of the best touchscreens in the class. You also get sat-nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay (so you can use your smartphone apps on the screen), and two USB-C ports in the front-centre console.”

But it’s not just the usability of the Skoda Karoq’s cabin that the discerning What Car? road testers appreciated. They also liked the look and feel. “The Skoda Karoq's design team – determined to ensure it has a distinct Skoda brand identity – has come up with an interior look that is surprisingly far removed from those of the Seat Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan.

“Its modern-looking dashboard borrows styling cues from the bigger Skoda Kodiaq, and a few metal-effect and piano-black trims add a touch of class to finish it off. You’ll find plenty of squishy surfaces on top of the dashboard and doors, and even the harder materials lower down are textured in such a way that they don't feel cheap. It's not just the finish that’s good. Everything feels solidly screwed together, suggesting that the Skoda Karoq will easily shrug off the rigours of family life.”

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#2 Well-rounded driving character

What good is a top-draw interior if you don’t have an enjoyable driving experience to back it up? Thankfully, you won’t have to worry about that particular dilemma in the Skoda Karoq, with What Car? extolling its supple long-distance ride, engaging handling and range of punchy engines.

“The Skoda Karoq's entry-level 1.0-litre TSI 116 petrol engine has decent low-rev shove and is fine if you spend most of your time in town,” What Car? said. “Even so, our pick of the range is the more powerful 1.5-litre TSI 150 because its 148bhp petrol engine is better at dealing with heavier loads, steep hills and faster roads. What’s more, it has even greater low-rev urgency than the 1.0-litre TSI, officially sprinting from 0-60mph in just under 9.0sec.

“At the top of the range is the 2.0-litre TSI 190 petrol, which gets four-wheel drive as standard and is available only in SportLine trim. It's easily the fastest Skoda Karoq, with 0-62mph taking just 7.0 seconds. There’s also a pair of 2.0-litre diesels. Both are gutsy from low revs. The TDI 150 is very nearly as quick as the 1.5-litre TSI 150 petrol and comes with four-wheel drive for added traction.”

When it comes to comfort – over both long and short distance – the Skoda Karoq excels. “The Skoda Karoq comes up trumps when smoothing the harsh edges off ruts and bumps around town,” What Car? said. “The ride gets even better on motorways, making it a soothing companion on long journeys. Like the similarly plush Kia Sportage, it upstages the bouncier Peugeot 3008 for comfort.”

Don’t think, though, that just because the Skoda Karoq offers a plush ride that it can’t cut a decent shape when the going gets twisty. “The Skoda Karoq sits on the same underpinnings as the Seat Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan, but Skoda has clearly worked hard to give the Karoq its own character, and it falls squarely between comfort and sportiness,” What Car? commented.

“The steering has a fine level of accuracy that lets you glide from corner to corner with ease. With plenty of grip at your disposal, you won’t lack any confidence as you do so. Don’t forget that if you need your family SUV to do more than just look the part, four-wheel drive is available if you avoid the entry-level SE Drive trim.”

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#3 Class-leading practicality

The Skoda Karoq’s pièce de résistance is undoubtedly its class-leading practicality, giving you more than enough room for everything life throws at you. You get five spacious seats as standard, and – depending on which trim you go for, and whether you have the rear seats up or down – between 521 and 1810 litres (with optional VarioFlex seats fitted) of versatile luggage space.

For both front and rear passengers, there’s more than enough room to stretch out and relax. “It’s unlikely that anyone will get into the front of the Skoda Karoq and start grumbling about a lack of space,” What Car? said. “It’s possible to slide the seats back a good amount to accommodate long legs, while those tall in the body will find the seat drops low enough to give plenty of head room.

“[In the rear] the Skoda Karoq has large door openings that make fitting a child seat relatively painless. There’s plenty of leg room for adults, so even six-footers won’t find their knees pressed up against the front seatbacks. Head room is excellent, too. The Skoda Karoq's ceiling is higher than in the Nissan Qashqai and similar to that of the Kia Sportage and the Volkswagen Tiguan.”

But it’s the rear configurability and overall boot space where the Skoda Karoq pulls clear of the competition, with What Car? giving particular praise to Skoda’s ingenious VarioFlex seats that fold, slide and can even be removed all together. “This is an area where the Skoda Karoq wipes the floor with its rivals.The VarioFlex seats (optional on SE Drive and SE L trime) do all sorts of clever things. 

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“For a start, the seatbacks are split fairly evenly into three separate sections, rather than the usual 60/40. That offers much more flexibility if you want to carry long loads as well as passengers. That’s not all. The seats recline and slide back and forth independently of one another. You can even remove all three rear seats from the car, freeing up more space.”

Finally, the Skoda Karoq’s large boot and clever range of additional features are the cherry on top for families who need to maximise every inch of space on a regular basis. 

“The Skoda Karoq’s boot is one of the biggest in the family SUV class,” What Car? said. “And all versions of the Skoda Karoq have a range of hooks, trays and other clever features that should stop your shopping sloshing around the boot when you’re driving home from the supermarket.”

#4 Great visibility and safety technology

Safety consistently ranks high in the list of priorities for parents looking to buy their next car. The expert What Car? road-test team gave particular kudos to the Skoda Karoq’s broad breadth of safety features – starting with its commanding view of the road.

“The Skoda Karoq is one of the easiest family SUVs to see out of because it combines a raised driving position with narrow windscreen pillars and big side windows,” What Car? said. “Pulling out of T-junctions, manoeuvring around multi-storey car parks and changing lanes on a motorway are a breeze. It also scores heavily over the Kia Sportage, the Peugeot 3008 and the Vauxhall Grandland when it comes to over-the-shoulder vision. That’s thanks to its relatively slim rear pillars – a rare treat these days.”

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To lend an extra pair of eyes, the Skoda Karoq also comes packed with a wealth of confidence-inspiring safety tech that makes driving easier, safer and less stressful. 

“All models have automatic emergency braking as standard and rear parking sensors, with SE L models and above gaining front sensors and a rear-view camera (these are available as part of a Parking Package on entry-level SE Drive models),” What Car? commented. “All models also get standard-fit LED headlights for better visibility at night. If you select the Travel Assist package option, you get adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and traffic-sign recognition.”

#5 Great value and low running costs

Skodas have long been renowned for offering outstanding value, and the Skoda Karoq is no different. What Car? particularly loved the Skoda Karoq’s generous levels of equipment.

“The Skoda Karoq's SE Drive trim is generously equipped, with 17in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, privacy glass, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, cruise control and rear parking sensors,” said What Car?’s discerning team. “It's highly recommendable if you’re on a budget. For a bit more kit, our favourite SE L trim comes with 18in alloy wheels and some good-to-have extras, including the very handy, keyless entry and start, drive mode select, plus all-round parking sensors and a rear-view camera.”

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The Skoda Karoq is also cost-effective to run and own, too. The 1.0-litre TSI 116 version of the Skoda Karoq achieved more than 40mpg in What Car?’s real-world efficiency test, while strong resale values and exceptional value compared to similarly equipped Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage models make the Skoda Karoq a no-brainer when it comes to maximising your cash.

So, those are the five big reasons why the Skoda Karoq has been awarded a full five stars by the What Car? experts. Maybe it’s time to try it for yourself.

Learn more about the Skoda range

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