Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

Skoda Kodiaq 2020 review: 132 TSI long term

Is it possible to downsize the family SUV and get away with it?

Malcolm Flynn is spending three months with his family aboard the cheapest Skoda Kodiaq in the range, to see how well three small kids (and all their stuff) fit in one of the smaller seven-seat SUVs on the market.

ShowHide all sections

Part 1: October 12, 2020

Choosing an SUV to suit your family is a lot like choosing a dog. Too big and it’ll get in the way and eat too much. Too little and it’ll probably drive you mad yapping, and it’ll probably end in tears if your kids try to ride it.

With the definition of family being broader than ever, the array of SUV sizes available has followed suit. So it pays to be across your choices before you pick one.

We’ve spent the past six months very happily aboard the Mazda CX-8 Sport petrol, which included the arrival of my third baby and squeezing three seats across the back seat for the first time. 

Externally, the Kodiaq is 203mm shorter (about the width of an A4 piece of paper), 65mm lower, but actually 42mm wider than the CX-8. So we’re tempting fate by going smaller, but that width figure suggests it should at least be easier to pop the seats in. More on that later.

Of greater concern is the Kodiaq’s 145-litre smaller third row folded boot measurement, given the difference is actually greater because the Mazda’s is measured using Litres VDA. Thankfully the Kodiaq also gets a sliding second row of seats, which gives you the chance to prioritise legroom or boot space depending on what you’re carrying.

Shorter, lower, but actually wider than a CX-8. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) Shorter, lower, but actually wider than a CX-8. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

We acknowledge the CX-8 is too long for plenty of families, with the Kodiaq’s more disciplined length making it able to fit in smaller parking spaces and could also be the difference between fitting in your garage or not. Have you seen how tiny “parking spaces” can be in newer developments?

The Kodiaq 132 TSI may be smaller, but its $44,890 list price is $4980 more than the CX-8 Sport petrol, so it’ll be an interesting value comparison. 

With those big 19-inch alloys and the optional (and quite close to the CX-8s Machine Grey) Quartz Grey paint, it easily looks a step more upmarket than the CX-8 Sport side-by-side.

Before and after. Fair to say grey is in at the moment. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) Before and after. Fair to say grey is in at the moment. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

One value comparison the very well equipped 132 TSI is bound to win is against the top-spec Kodiaq RS I tested earlier this year. It undercuts the unique-to-segment performance model by more than $20,000, but it also sits $4000 beneath the RS-lookalike 132 TSI Sportline that completes the three-tier Australian Kodiaq line-up.

Aside from annual running changes, the Kodiaq is more or less the same as it was when it first touched down in Australia in July 2017. It arguably lacks none of the freshness of the more recent Karoq and upcoming Kamiq Skoda SUVs, and clever details like the driver’s door umbrella, door edge protectors, front seat backrest device holders and rubbish bin are still very impressive USPs. We’ll see just how handy they are in the real world.

As always, Test Number 1 for my family is how well the child seats fit across the second row. I’m pleased to say that our two 0-4 child seats in the outboard positions (left one rear-facing), and harnessed booster in the middle slotted in without fuss. 

We used the ISOFIX mounts in the outboard and top-tether in the middle. Note that harnessed boosters aren’t available to suit the sturdier ISOFIX attachments given the 33kg legal weight limit (combined child and seat), so it’s the ideal choice of our three to go in the middle position that doesn’t have ISOFIX points anyway. Pro tip: Fit the middle one first, so you can access and tighten the seatbelt before it’s hidden by the other two seats.

It pays to trial fit your own seats to be sure, but my tape measure suggests the Kodiaq has a 60mm width advantage between the door trims where child seats are at their widest. 

Kodiaq is 42mm wider than CX-8 overall, but 60mm wider at this critical point for squeezing in child seats. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) Kodiaq is 42mm wider than CX-8 overall, but 60mm wider at this critical point for squeezing in child seats. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

There’s a good chance we’ll never need the third row of seats, but it’s worth noting there are no child seat mounts of either variety back there. There’s decent access and the curtain airbags extend for proper third row coverage, but be aware that you’ll need to slide ⅔ of the second row seat forward to enter the third row from the kerb side. This is a hangover from the Kodiaq’s left-hand drive origins but worth considering whether it suits your child seat layout. 

Both Kodiaqs beneath the RS come with the familiar 132kW, 320Nm (from 1400-3940rpm) 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine and seven-speed dual clutch auto with on-demand all-wheel drive system, which in Skoda-speak is labelled ‘4x4’ and will have many presuming it’s a more rugged LandCruiser-esque system. 

Versions of this 2.0 litre can be found in anything from the VW Polo to the Porsche Macan. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) Versions of this 2.0 litre can be found in anything from the VW Polo to the Porsche Macan. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

Our Kodiaq arrived with 1309km on the odometer, and we’ve racked up a further 1795km of mixed driving conditions with mixed loads. Measured at the petrol bowser, we’ve averaged 9.96L/100km so far, which is a decent margin beyond the 7.6L/100km official combined figure. It’ll be interesting to see if we can get much closer with a few more kilometres under the Kodiaq’s belt, but it’s about what we should expect given the overall 8.9L/100km average we experienced with the 77kg lighter but almost mechanically identical Tiguan 132 TSI we lived with in 2017.

It’s also interesting how close this month’s figure is it is to the 9.67L/100km overall average we achieved with the 68kg-heavier again CX-8, with it’s bigger naturally-aspirated engine running on regular 91 RON unleaded unlike the Kodiaq’s requisite 95 RON Premium. This Kodiaq figure is only after one month remember, but it will be interesting to see what the next two months deliver.

Acquired: October 2020

Distance travelled this month: 1795km

Odometer: 3104km

Average fuel consumption this month: 9.96L/100km (measured at the pump)

So far, so good. Decent proportions side on, eh? (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) So far, so good. Decent proportions side on, eh? (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

Part 2: November 30, 2020

You know what they say about owning a ute and making friends? Friends who want you to move stuff for them? I’m here to tell you the phenomenon isn’t limited to utes, with our Kodiaq winding up doing a couple of decent favours despite having three child seats firmly strapped to the second row. 

The first one was a mate who needed a set of old 15-inch wheels and tyres collected after an online purchase. No worries, with all four fitting upright across the Kodiaq’s cargo area. What impressed me though, was that I was also able to justify the favour by taking my eldest two kids out for a bike ride by also fitting a balance bike, a 14-inch pedal bike, and my 24-inch mountain bike back there.  

  • Look closely, there’s three bikes ahead of that set of wheels and tyres… (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) Look closely, there’s three bikes ahead of that set of wheels and tyres… (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)
  • Yep, these ones. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) Yep, these ones. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

In fairness, I had to slide the second row forward, but my two and three year olds don’t ask for much in the way of legroom, and a good day out was had by all. 

Next on the job list for the Kodiaq was a big kids toy kitchen that had popped up for free on a pay it forward site. The request came on the fly, so there was zero opportunity to prep the car by taking out child seats etc, but I was high on my previous load-carrying deed and gave it a go. 

Would you believe it slotted straight in, without having to slide the second row forward, and it even fit beneath the cargo blind, but occupied pretty much every other remaining cubic centimetre. Check out the pic, perhaps this is a particularly popular choice for Santa in the Czech Republic?

It scrubbed up alright, too. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) It scrubbed up alright, too. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

But, like a band that decides to split before their first album hits the market, our Kodiaq is now redundant. Well, slightly anyway, with the news earlier this month that the 2021 model year version is scoring a handful of running changes (like most other years, actually) to help it stay fresh among the influx of newer rivals. 

Aside from upgraded multimedia that brings wireless CarPlay (Android Auto still corded) and phone charging and a handful of other tweaks to justify a $1500 price hike, the most obvious change over our 2021 Kodiaq 132 TSI is the move to grey ‘Crater’ design wheels (think RS) over the silver ‘Triglav’ design we have.

Now, this is great news if you’re in the market for a 2021 model, given how quickly the current wheels get covered in brake dust. Owners of pretty much any European car will empathise, but particularly those with silver wheels. Anyway, problem solved.

  • This is after a week of general driving. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) This is after a week of general driving. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)
  • And it’s a bit of a pain to make them look like this again. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) And it’s a bit of a pain to make them look like this again. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

The Kodiaq Sportline already solved that problem with its ‘Vega’ wheels, and I had the chance to compare the two trim levels side by side when a friend’s example I’d forgotten about appeared out the front of my house one day. The Skoda brand has gained some momentum in Australia these days, but two Kodiaqs randomly appearing outside the one house is still quite a sight.

Regular Kodiaq with Sportline. More different than you’d think, right? (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) Regular Kodiaq with Sportline. More different than you’d think, right? (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

This second month also gave us the chance to take the 132 TSI on its first proper family trip, from the eastern edge of the Blue Mountains to stay in Bathurst two hours away. 

This extended time with all five of us on board gave us our first chance to try the Kodiaq with overnight cargo on board. It certainly managed to fit what we would have brought in the CX-8, but  I was forced to sacrifice rearward visibility (carefully packed for safety) to make it happen. No biggy with correctly adjusted side mirrors, and we were carrying A LOT of stuff. 

  • What we’d carry in the CX-8 with ease. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) What we’d carry in the CX-8 with ease. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)
  • Same load reoriented and eating up visibility. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) Same load reoriented and eating up visibility. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

This trip also highlighted that not all rear seat sunshades are created equal, with the Kodiaq’s not blocking anywhere near as much sunlight as what we recall in the CX-8 Axami LE we lived with for six months in 2019.

This is clearly a careful tradeoff between blocking sunlight for rear seat passengers and preserving driver visibility, but any parent will empathise with the situation where blocking sunlight is non-negotiable. We worked around this by draping a baby blanket over the top of the shade, which was still a far more elegant solution to draping it over the door frame and having half of it hanging in the wind like when I was little. Once again, those side mirrors were mighty important.

Ghetto sunshade underpinned by solid engineering. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) Ghetto sunshade underpinned by solid engineering. (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

No trip to Bathurst is a trip to Bathurst without visiting Bathurst’s biggest attraction, and you bet your bottom dollar my youngest made his debut laps aboard the Kodiaq. Even at the 60km/h limit, the likes of The Cutting, The Dipper and Forrest’s Elbow are tight and challenging for a fully-laden SUV, particularly given it’s a two-way road during civilian times, and the Kodiaq’s brilliant MQB-Platform underpinnings did not disappoint. This is one nimble and stable seven seater.

Skoda’s first Bathurst podium? (image credit: Malcolm Flynn) Skoda’s first Bathurst podium? (image credit: Malcolm Flynn)

Something we’re finding a semi-regular occurrence regardless of car brand or driving conditions are tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) false alarms. This is where the car will tell you there’s a tyre pressure irregularity among your four tyres, and that you need to stop and identify the problem. This happened with the Kodiaq this month, and I did my customary visual inspection as soon as it was safe to pull over, followed by a validation with the nearest service station air hose. As with all of my other experiences to date, the Kodiaq had raised a false alarm and all tyres had equal pressure, but this only adds to my peace of mind that it will raise an alarm if there is a genuine loss of pressure and potentially save lives. I keep meaning to carry a tyre gauge so I can avoid the service station visit though.

We’ve nearly doubled our first month kilometre count this month, with a further 3204km added to the Kodiaq’s odometer. It’s funny to think that the Bathurst trip only accounted for 10 per cent of this, but when your mother in law lives 45 minutes away…

These longer trips have no doubt played a role in dropping our monthly average fuel consumption by almost half a litre to 9.5L/100km. Good to see, but still a fair bit higher than the 7.6L/100km official combined target.

Next month promises much of the same with the customary trips across town to everyone’s end-of-year celebrations, so we look forward to the numbers however they fall. 

Acquired: October 2020

Distance travelled this month: 3204km

Odometer: 4999km

Average fuel consumption this month: 9.5L/100km (measured at the pump)


The Wrap

Likes

Great practicality for its size
Upmarket looks
Back seat easily swallows three child seats

Dislikes

Brake dust buildup on the silver wheels

Scores

Malcolm:

The Kids:

$33,990 - $39,990

Based on 7 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.