Mid-size SUV of the Year 2019: Skoda Karoq

The Skoda Karoq is the 2019 Auto Express Mid-size SUV of the Year with the Peugeot 3008 and Toyota RAV4 commended

Skoda is known for cars that are great value for money and very practical, and the Karoq fits that description perfectly. It’s not just those qualities that handed it the win in this category, though – it’s also because it’s an amazing all-rounder.

The Karoq is more grown-up than the Yeti that came before it, with a high-quality cabin, good refinement and plenty of hi-tech kit. The infotainment system is modern-looking and easy to use, but also packed with features, including smartphone connectivity.

There’s a wide choice of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines that are familiar from elsewhere in the VW Group range, including the solid 1.5 TSI, which mixes efficiency and performance very well.

Choose the six-speed manual if you want to save some money and enjoy changing gear yourself – it’s a slick gearbox and good to use – or go for the DSG automatic if you want to leave shifting to the car.

There are also 4×4 versions and more powerful engines to choose from. However, although the Karoq is perfectly good enough off road, it’s much better on tarmac, thanks to its comfortable suspension set-up, precise steering and good visibility.

The Karoq has all the versatility and practicality you’d expect, too. In fact, it’s one of the best in its class in that regard, because the rear bench can slide forwards or backwards to create more boot or passenger space, depending on your needs. This VarioFlex set-up is standard on SE L trim cars and above, so there’s between 479 and 588 litres of boot space on offer, as well as 1,810 litres when the seats are folded. It’s just another of Skoda’s thoughtful touches that make living with a car easy. This is what SUVs are for, and the Karoq nails the brief easily.

Comfortable seats and a well built interior mean that long trips are easy, and the intuitive, tech-laden infotainment system takes some of the stress out of driving, too. The Karoq is quiet inside on the motorway, because the engine noise doesn’t intrude into the cabin, so there’s refinement to complement the mature road manners.

Our choiceSkoda Karoq 1.5 TSI SE (£23,295)

Whichever model of Karoq you go for, you get the same excellent practicality and relaxed driving experience, with the 1.5-litre petrol engine offering a good mix of performance and efficiency. SE spec comes with an eight-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you can use your phone for sat-nav.

CommendedPeugeot 3008

The 3008 is a previous winner in this class and is still a top choice. It offers plenty of practicality to go with its stylish looks, which are arguably more interesting than the Karoq’s, and it has a decent engine range, too. It’s packed with the latest technology, including Peugeot’s i-Cockpit display behind the steering wheel that can show sat-nav directions and more.

Toyota RAV4

Toyota actually has two solid offerings in this segment now, because the RAV4 joined the C-HR this year. The former is larger, so it offers more practicality, and nudges ahead as a result. There’s loads of room in the back seats and the 580-litre boot is nearly as big as the Karoq’s, despite the efficient hybrid powertrain taking up some underfloor space.

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