Is the Skoda Karoq’s budget option the pick of the range?

The Skoda Karoq is back below $40,000 drive-away for the first time in two years – and this new entry-level model may be the pick of the range.

What we love
  • Seven-year warranty
  • Good value for money in the purchase price
  • Well-packaged, spacious interior despite small body
What we don’t
  • Expensive to service
  • Missing the latest safety features
  • The tape measure doesn’t lie, it’s smaller than its rivals inside

The Skoda Karoq is the middle child in the Czech car maker’s SUV range, with the footprint of a ‘big’ small SUV – but interior space said to be close to a mid-size SUV such as a Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage or Mazda CX-5.

For 2024 it has added a new entry-level model, simply called ‘Karoq’, which brings the base price back under $40,000 drive-away for the first time in two years.

It is priced similarly to top-selling rivals from Japan and South Korea, while offering more equipment, and a seven-year warranty.

How much is a Skoda Karoq?

The new entry-level Skoda Karoq is priced from $39,990 plus on-road costs, or an identical $39,990 drive-away nationwide – $5500 less on the road than the next model up, the Style ($45,490 drive-away, or $44,590 plus on-road costs).

Compared to the Style, the new base variant misses out on a widescreen 10.25-inch digital instrument display, keyless (proximity key) entry, digital radio, hands-free power tailgate, wireless phone charging, VarioFlex removable rear seats, a double-sided luggage net and boot dividers, a bin in the driver’s door pocket, privacy glass, and a drive mode selector.

It retains 18-inch alloy wheels, dusk-sensing LED headlights, LED tail-lights with scrolling indicators, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 8.0-inch digital instrument display, rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fabric seat upholstery and push-button start.

Also standard are eight speakers, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, and a suite of safety features, including lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert – items that were optional on the Style two years ago, when it was $42,990 drive-away.

Rivals in the medium SUV category include the Toyota RAV4 GX petrol ($39,760 plus on-road costs, or an estimated $44,037 drive-away in NSW), Kia Sportage S auto ($34,995 plus on-roads, or est. $39,210 drive-away in NSW), base Hyundai Tucson ($35,650 plus on-roads, or est. $39,797 drive-away in NSW), and Mazda CX-5 Maxx ($36,590 plus on-roads, or est. $39,990 drive-away in NSW).

Whereas those Japanese and South Korean rivals are built in their home markets – with which Australia has a Free Trade Agreement – the Karoq has one hand tied behind its back as it is produced in the Czech Republic, so it is hit with a five per cent import tariff on arrival into Australia.

Compared to the RAV4 – as an example – the Skoda gains 18-inch wheels (vs 17s), dual-zone climate control, a larger 8.0-inch instrument display (vs 7.0-inch), an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and two extra speakers, among other extras.

Key details 2024 Skoda Karoq
Price $39,990 drive-away
Colour of test car Moon White Metallic
Options Premium paint – $770
Price as tested $40,760 drive-away
Rivals Mazda CX-5 | Toyota RAV4 | Kia Sportage

How big is a Skoda Karoq?

The Skoda Karoq is a significantly smaller vehicle on the outside than its rivals – about 30cm shorter nose to tail than a Sportage, RAV4 or Tucson, at 4390mm long – but according to the car maker’s measuring tape, passenger space is within a few centimetres of competitors.

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It’s felt most in the rear. It is not as roomy as the rivals mentioned above, but space is generous despite the compact body, with ample knee room, and plenty of head room and toe room behind my seating position as a 186cm (6ft 1in) tall driver.

It is not perfect – the rear seat base is a touch flat, there is a large central tunnel for the middle passenger to straddle, and this base model misses out on the removable VarioFlex rear seat bench of the Style and Sportline variants.

Amenities in the rear include air vents, two map pockets, a 12-volt socket (but no USB ports), fold-down centre armrest with cupholders, three top-tether child-seat anchors, and two ISOFIX points – plus space for bottles in the doors.

Up front, occupants sit in fabric-trimmed, sports-look seats that are comfortable and reasonably supportive, with a high driving position and good visibility out of all windows.

The leather wrapping on the steering wheel feels high-quality, and the column can be adjusted for tilt and reach.

Perceived build quality in our near-new test vehicle was good – with no obvious rattles – and there is a mix of soft leather-like materials on the armrests, and hard, scratchy plastic elsewhere on the dashboard.

Storage space is well accommodated, with space ahead of the gear shifter for a phone and wallets – where the wireless phone charging pad would reside in more expensive models – plus modestly sized door pockets and glovebox, more storage under the armrest, a small compartment on top of the dashboard, and a sunglasses holder in the roof lining.

Front occupants have access to dual-zone climate control – with traditional dials and buttons, which are far easier to use while driving than touch-sensitive controls – plus a 12-volt socket, two USB-C ports and push-button start.

The lack of VarioFlex rear seats means boot space is a claimed 521 litres with the second-row seat bench upright – rather than up to 588L. It compares to 542–580L in a RAV4, or 543L in a Sportage – both of which are larger vehicles.

For more space there’s a ‘ski port’ in the middle of the rear-seat backrest for longer items, while the entire thing can be lowered 60:40 for up to 1810L of room. In the luggage compartment there are pockets on each side, and a number of bag hooks – while under the floor there is a spare tyre not far off the dimensions of the car’s regular wheels and tyres.

2024 Skoda Karoq
Seats Five
Boot volume 521L seats up
1810L seats folded
Length 4390mm
Width 1841mm
Height 1603mm
Wheelbase 2638mm

Does the Skoda Karoq have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

The 8.0-inch touchscreen is not the newest, fastest, largest or flashiest in the medium SUV class but it is easy to use, with traditional volume and tuning dials – though the touch-sensitive shortcuts on either side of the display are fiddly when on the move.

Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included – the latter of which worked faultlessly in our testing – plus FM and DAB+ digital radio, and Bluetooth.

The 8.0-inch instrument display can’t match the Style’s 10.25-inch widescreen for customisation and clarity, but it is easy to read and navigate, and looks more expensive than rivals with a small digital screen and analogue dials (or digitised speed and RPM read-outs).

The eight-speaker sound system provides acceptable sound quality, while the rear-view camera delivers average clarity – aided by front and rear parking sensors.

Skoda does not offer connected smartphone app functionality – which could allow for remote unlocking/locking of the vehicle, location tracking and other features – and has not announced a timeline to do so.

Is the Skoda Karoq a safe car?

Under ANCAP guidelines the Skoda Karoq doesn’t have a current rating. The five-star ANCAP safety rating for the Skoda Karoq – based on 2017 testing, against less stringent protocols – expired at the end of 2023.

2024 Skoda Karoq
ANCAP rating Unrated

What safety technology does the Skoda Karoq have?

Lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic were optional on a $42,990 drive-away Skoda Karoq Style two years ago, but are standard on this new base model – as well as the current iteration of the Style.

The Karoq ticks most of the safety boxes expected of a vehicle in the medium SUV category in 2024; however, lane-centring assist, and stop-and-go for the adaptive cruise control – which are optional on higher grades – are not available on the base model.

As with other Volkswagen and Skoda models in Australia, there is no traffic sign recognition – and the capabilities of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system are also limited to pedestrians and cyclists, rather than the motorcyclist and intersection awareness of newer vehicles in this class.

Also fitted are seven airbags – including one for the driver’s knee – and a tyre pressure loss warning.

All of the Karoq’s safety systems worked well in our testing and were not overzealous.

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) Yes Includes pedestrian and cyclist detection
Adaptive Cruise Control Yes
Blind Spot Alert Yes Alert only
Rear Cross-Traffic Alert Yes Alert only
Lane Assistance Yes Lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist
Road Sign Recognition No
Driver Attention Warning Yes Includes fatigue warning
Cameras & Sensors Yes Front and rear sensors, rear camera

How much does the Skoda Karoq cost to run?

The Skoda Karoq is covered by a seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty – one of the longest in the car industry, matching Kia, and the only European manufacturer offering this length of coverage as standard.

The logbook calls for servicing every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first, amounting to $1572 over three years/45,000km, $3067 over five years/75,000km and $4213 over seven years/105,000km.

It is expensive for the class. Over five years/45,000km, servicing is quoted as $1300 for a Toyota RAV4 GX petrol – 40 per cent of the Karoq’s price – plus $1850 for a base Hyundai Tucson, $2082 for a Mazda CX-5 G20 Maxx, and $2295 for a Kia Sportage S petrol automatic.

The gap between the Karoq and RAV4 closes when the example period is stretched to seven years/105,000km – at $4213 and $2421 respectively – as the Toyota is outside of its five low-priced scheduled services.

Karoq buyers can cut maintenance costs by opting for a prepaid service pack, which costs $2450 for five years/75,000km, or $2750 for seven years/105,000km – the latter still $329 more expensive than a Toyota RAV4 over the same period, and $14 dearer than the Tucson, but hundreds of dollars cheaper than the Sportage and CX-5.

The Karoq is too new to appear on our go-to insurance quote calculator. As a guide, a Karoq Style is estimated at $1356 annually – cheaper than the quoted $1547 for a RAV4 GX petrol, and $1415 for a CX-5 G20 Maxx.

At a glance 2024 Skoda Karoq
Warranty Seven years, unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs $1572 (3 years, pay as you go)
$3067 (5 years, pay as you go)
$4213 (7 years, pay as you go)
$2450 (5 years, prepaid)
$2750 (7 years, prepaid)

Is the Skoda Karoq fuel-efficient?

Skoda claims fuel consumption of 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres for the 1.4-litre Karoq.

On the media test drive program for the new base model – comprised primarily of highway and enthusiastic country-road driving, the latter not focused on trying to extract maximum fuel efficiency – the trip computer displayed 7.2L/100km.

In an earlier week-long test of a Karoq Style – which claims a slightly higher 6.6L/100km – Drive has recorded 7.1L/100km in suburban and highway driving.

As with most European cars in Australia, the Karoq requires 95 or 98-octane premium unleaded petrol for its 50-litre tank which – based on Skoda’s claimed highway fuel consumption claim of 5.5L/100km – translates to 909km of estimated highway driving range.

Fuel efficiency 2024 Skoda Karoq
Fuel cons. (claimed) 6.5L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 7.2L/100km
Fuel type 95-octane premium unleaded
Fuel tank size 50L

What is the Skoda Karoq like to drive?

The Karoq’s smaller footprint lends it an advantage in the city, with a tight 10.2m turning circle that helps with parking and U-turns.

The 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine’s power output of 110kW is low for the class, but its 250Nm torque rating is more than 2.0-litre non-turbo rivals.

The Karoq’s turbocharged nature means peak torque is available from 1500rpm, so it’s reasonably perky around town, and doesn’t need to be revved hard to keep up with traffic. It gets up to highway speeds easily enough, though country-road overtakes will not be as easy as the more powerful (and more expensive) Karoq Sportline.

The eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission is not as quick to shift as the dual-clutch transmissions in other Skoda models, but it is smoother off the mark, and does not have any quirks or odd behaviour the driver needs to adapt to.

Comfort over bumps is good, and the Karoq soaks up speed bumps and undulations in the road without much fuss, though at times the suspension can feel busy over potholes and lumpy city streets.

At high speeds it is settled and composed, and the steering is light and reasonably direct – although it doesn’t communicate much of what’s happening on the road surface to the driver.

There is some body roll when the car is driven quickly on a winding road – and the Goodyear tyres are decent, though it’s not too hard to break traction when accelerating briskly out of a T-junction.

The brake pedal is soft and not very sensitive near the start of its travel, which makes for a smoother experience in stop-start traffic – but there is moderate bite the further you push your foot.

The Karoq’s cabin is relatively well insulated from the outside world, but there is a fair amount of tyre roar on coarse-chip country roads – and over some poorly surfaced roads the tyres and suspension can ‘boom’ through the cabin, but it improves on smoother tarmac.

Key details 2024 Skoda Karoq
Engine 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power 110kW @ 6000rpm
Torque 250Nm @ 1500–3500rpm
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Transmission 8-speed torque converter automatic
Power to weight ratio 72.8kW/t
Weight (tare) 1510kg
Spare tyre type Space-saver
Payload 430kg
Tow rating 1500kg braked
690kg unbraked
Turning circle 10.2m

The Skoda Karoq can tow up to 1500kg braked, or 690kg unbraked, with a maximum towball down weight of 90kg.

We did not test the Karoq with a trailer attached, but its performance unladen suggests the engine would feel quite strained with 1500kg attached to the towball.

Based on its tare mass of 1510kg – which does not include fuel, engine oil or any other fluids – and gross vehicle weight of 1940kg, the Karoq has a payload of just 430kg.

With a full 50-litre tank of fuel – which weighs about 40kg – and another 10kg worth of vehicle fluids, owners are left with just 380kg for passengers, cargo and accessories before the vehicle becomes overweight and illegal to drive on the road.

Assuming two 90kg adults on board – plus two 60kg children – the Karoq has only 80kg left in reserve to fill its final passenger seat, or the boot. Family buyers should be careful not to exceed the low payload if they plan to take their Karoq on a road trip.

Should I buy a Skoda Karoq?

The Skoda Karoq risks being a fish out of water in the mid-size SUV category – with the dimensions of a smaller car, but the positioning of a bigger one – but it is a left-of-field contender that is deserving of consideration.

It makes the most sense in this entry-level form, with a balanced equipment list, a refined driving experience, user-friendly technology, and an impressively well packaged interior that provides more passenger and cargo space than its footprint would suggest.

It is not perfect – maintenance is expensive, it has fallen behind the class leaders in interior design and safety technology, the payload is low, and the tape measure doesn’t lie, it is physically smaller than most mid-size SUVs.

But if you’re shopping for a Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 or Kia Sportage, consider taking a Skoda Karoq for a test drive.

How do I buy a Skoda Karoq? The next steps.

The entry-level Karoq is our pick of the range for value. The Style is a tempting step-up, adding features such as the larger instrument screen and keyless entry, but we would struggle to justify the $5500 extra spend – which can be boosted further with expensive option packs.

Skoda says there is plenty of stock in dealerships across most of its model range.

We recommend taking a test drive at a dealership before signing on the dotted line. Find your nearest Skoda dealer via this link. Competing vehicles worth considering and test driving include the Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage, Nissan X-Trail and Mazda CX-5.

If you want to stay updated with everything that’s happened to this car since our review, you’ll find all the latest news here.

Ratings Breakdown

2024 SKODA Karoq 110TSI Wagon

7.4/ 10

Infotainment & Connectivity

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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