Road to Anchorage
When Skoda announced the name of their new large SUV would be Kodiaq, I spent some time trying to work out where the name had come from. I came up with two possibilities.
Kodiak is one of seven communities & the main city on Kodiak Island, Kodiak Island Borough, in the U.S. state of Alaska. Alaska is the largest US State in size & with the Kodiaq being a large seven-seater, perhaps it was linked to this ?
On the other hand, the Eastman Kodak Company is an American technology company that produces imaging products with its historic basis on photography. TV series Mad Men, which is about the life & times of a 1960’s, early 1970’s Madison Avenue advertising agency, featured a number of famous sales pitches. One of the best featured in the show, was pitched to Kodak, to promote their slide projector the Carousel. Advertising guru Don Draper tells Kodak that “It’s called a carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels, around & around & back home again to a place where we know we are loved.” The Skoda Kodiaq is the perfect car for a child to travel in. It’s large, comfortable & safe & will get you from A to B & back again, so maybe Skoda had watched this episode of Mad Men ? I digress.0
In fact, Škoda registered the name “Kodiaq” & the name refers to the largest brown bear, the Kodiak bear, which hails from Alaska, so I suppose I was partially correct. None the less, Skodas new Kodiaq was launched earlier this year & has received much critical acclaim. It’s Skodas first time in the large SUV sector & with an advertising campaign fronted by Sir Bradley Wiggins, it’s off to a good start.
Available as a five or seven seater, the Kodiaq is spacious, comfortable, well equipped & as we found out, it’s also good to drive. Skoda sent CC&V the Kodiaq SE L 2.0 litre TDI 190PS 4×4 DSG model to test & we were far from disappointed.
The range is offered in six trims, staring with the entry-level S. Then there’s SE, SE Technology & SE L trims, with a soon to be launched off-road biased Kodiaq Scout, plus a Sportline version. The basic S model is five-seat only, with the sole engine choice being the 1.4 TSI 125PS petrol with a six-speed manual gear box. SE comes with the 1.4 TSI in 125PS & 150PS guises, or you can choose the 2.0 TDI 150PS diesel.
SE Technology cars only come with the 2.0 TDI diesel engine, which can be upgraded with the DSG box, seven seats and 4×4 transmission. SE L cars have seven seats as standard & are offered with the 1.4 TSI 150PS, or the 2.0 TDI with 150PS or 190PS power outputs, the latter with the seven-speed DSG gearbox as standard, was the model that we tested. There is also a 2.0 TSI 180PS turbo petrol, which comes with the DSG box & 4×4 as standard, but only in SE L trim. Prices range from £22,000 to £35,000, with our test model costing £33,635.
When you first glance it, there’s no denying that the Kodiaq comes from the same stable as the Audi , SEAT & Volkswagen. The front-end though, is very Skoda, with headlights that are designed to resemble Czech crystals & the familiar Skoda grille. The rear-end features the split boot lid & prominent tail lights seen on other model’s in the Skoda’s range. The overall impression could be described as ‘rugged.’
Inside, the Kodiaq is on familiar territory, with a well made, durable looking if slightly bland dash board & switchgear set up. It’s in the main black & is to be fair, nicely understated, with the central 8” touchscreen from which most functions are controlled via touch sensitive buttons, being a real stand out. Sensibly, Skoda have left the ventilation as three separate rotary controls under this, enabling temperature adjustment to be straightforward. There are steering wheel controls for the phone & entertainment system, cruise control & car information. All are easy to understand & simple to use. The quality matches that found in sister model the Superb, with a tasteful brushed black/grey wood finish lifting the mood.
Our test model featured Skoda’s upgraded Columbus sat-nav, which is definitely one of the best systems out there. Apple CarPlay & Android Auto are offered, plus Skoda’s SmartLink system & SmartGate an app Kodiaq owners can download to check the status of their vehicle, such as remaining fuel range & service intervals.
SE L models are nicely equipped, with 7 airbags, Alcantara upholstery, black roof rails, dual zone air-con with humidity sensor & control, full LED headlights with AFS, heated front seats, keyless entry & start system, LED rear lights & daytime running lights, plus all Kodiaqs come with front assist & city emergency braking as standard.
Despite the front seats being on the firm side, they’re incredibly comfortable There’s an amazing amount of space as well, not just in the front but in the rear too, with plenty of room for five adults plus impressive head & leg room. The middle three seats can be moved fore & aft as required, with seats 6 & 7 folding flat into the boot floor as well.
Both front passengers can utilise several storage spaces including a centre console bin, phone storage, a number of cupholders, two gloveboxes – a conventional plus a flip up lid behind the wood-style dashboard panel. Rear passengers get tray tables with built in cupholders & even lights.
Skoda likes to think outside the box & the Kodiaq is no different. The SE L has a powered tailgate, umbrellas in the front doors & an ice scraper in the fuel filler flap, all neatly hidden. There’s also useful underfloor storage in the boot & loading is simple too, as there’s no lip on the boot to contend with..
When all seven seats are in place the Skoda has a 270-litre capacity. This increases to between 560 & 765 litres in five-seat form, based on which position you set the 60:40 split sliding middle seats. With all seven seats folded there’s a vast 2,005 litres on offer & if you’e looking to tow, the Kodiaq can handle up to 2,000kg as well.
Large cars generally don’t offer the best driving experience, but for it’s size, the Kodiaq bucks this trend, handling well. I spent over ten hours in the Kodiaq amassing 550 miles in the process, 400 on the motorway, where it was peerless & 150 in town & on local B roads. The DSG gear box allows relaxing motorway progress, especially if cruise control has been set. The engine is rather noisy at low speeds & when accelerating, you can hear the gear box going through the motions. Having tested the 1.4 TSI 150ps manual on the Octavia, for those who want a quieter driving experience, I can highly recommend this.
Before setting off, the Skoda let’s you can choose from five driving settings. I opted for Sport around town, for extra fun & selected Eco on the motorway, to save fuel. You can also pick, Normal, Comfort or to Personalise your ride. On the motorway, despite the Kodiaq’s size, wind noise is kept to a minimum. Everywhere else, the only noise intrusion came from the 19” alloys that were fitted to my test car, as it moved over our poorly maintained UK roads. On the plus side, the Kodiaq offers a comfortable ride.
Acceleration for a car that weighs almost 1750kg, is unlikely to be brisk & the 2.0 litre 190PS engine takes 9.1 seconds to get you from 0-62mph, going on to reach a top speed of 129mph. Emissions on our test model were a highish 151g/km & the combined fuel economy a claimed 49.6mpg. I averaged just over 40mpg & to put this in context, when I drove the similarly sized KIA Sorento & Hyundai Santa Fe over similar distances & on similar roads, I averaged 38 & 35 mpg respectively. So the Kodiaq beat them both.
All Kodiaqs come with a three-year, 60,000 mile warranty as standard, although you can extend that to five years with the mileage capped at 100,000 miles. In comparison, the Kia Sorento comes with seven years of cover, while the Hyundai Santa Fe gets five years of cover, so plus marks here go to the Koreans.
The curent TV advert for the Kodiaq features Sir Bradley Wiggins & two large St Bernard’s, driving somewhere hilly up north. This is only half the Kodiaq story. This is a car that can handle the rough, as well as the smooth. It will work just as well as a family run about, as it will for business people eating up the motorway miles, whilst offering over 40mpg into the bargain.
How does it compare to similar cars out there ? There is quite a choice of crossover 7 seaters, including the upmarket Audi Q7, Land Rover Discovery, Volvo XC90, as well as the similarly priced Hyundai Santa Fe, KIA Sorento & Mitsubishi Outlander. The Kodiaq we drove, costs 15K less than the Audi & Volvo & 6K less than the Land Rover. The aforementioned KIA & Hyundai are similarly priced, similarly sized & similarly equipped, but the Skoda is nicer, both inside & out feeling both more up-market & more durable. And the Outlander in PHEV guise may tick the emissions box, but can’t match the Kodiaq for style, build quality or fuel economy.
In it’s sector then, the new Skoda Kodiaq is hard to beat. It’s attractively priced, incredibly practical, very well equipped & features excellent build quality, just like the Skoda Superb.
An Alaskan 4.5/5.