- Two near-identical seven-seaters head-to-head
- Both come with a wide range of engines
- But which is the best family SUV?
With the decline of the traditional MPV and people carrier and the shift in popularity to SUVs and crossovers, large family cars now come in the form of big SUVs with three rows of seats.
One of our favourites is the Skoda Kodiaq – a practical and well-equipped seven-seater with a wide range of engines and trim levels available, plus it offers more space at a lower cost than the equivalent Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace. We also ran a Kodiaq for six months, and it proved to be a great all-rounder.
However, it didn’t take long for SEAT to introduce its version – the Tarraco. With a sportier look and a slightly different interior design, does it offer anything the Kodiaq doesn’t? And which car should you spend your money on as your new large family car? Read on to find out.
What are the model ranges like?
Extensive – particularly the Kodiaq. With seven trims to choose from (SE, SE L, Edition, Scout, Sportline, L&K and vRS), there’s everything from simple and functional to sporty and luxurious.
The list of engines available is also long and varied. A 1.5 TSI was introduced to replace the 1.4 TSI, but as of July 2019 it doesn’t appear on price lists. The only petrol alternative to this is a 2.0 TSI with 190hp, a DSG gearbox and all-wheel drive.
Diesel choice is made up of a 150hp or 190hp 2.0 TDI, the former of which comes with a choice of manual or DSG, and front- or all-wheel drive. The more powerful unit is DSG and 4x4 only. At the top of the tree is a 240hp BiTDI reserved for the Kodiaq vRS.
We’d stick with an SE L spec model as it’s packed with kit but doesn’t cost the earth, in combination with one of the 2.0 TDI engines, preferably with a DSG gearbox.
The Tarraco’s line-up comes with a familiar range of engines – both 150hp and 190hp diesels, the 190hp 2.0 TSI and the 1.5 TSI with 150hp as an entry point to the range. It’s an interesting option if you just use it around town, but again one of the diesels are a better fit for those travelling longer distances regularly.
Trims are made up of SE, SE Technology, Xcellence and Xcellence Lux. An Xcellence is well-equipped and comes with the most engine options – again we’d suggest a diesel auto.
What are they like inside?
Very similar, but we think the Skoda’s interior is the nicer place to be, and is just a little more user-friendly in places.
In terms of design, the Skoda’s is more traditional with a simple set-up and simple controls. A digital Virtual Cockpit is available (that’s standard on the SEAT), but the integration of the touchscreen infotainment system is far more cohesive in the Kodiaq. While it’s the same system in both cars, the Tarraco’s tablet-style set-up just looks a little cheap in comparison.
The Tarraco does use some interesting materials for the seats and door cards, but the Kodiaq’s wider variety of trim levels means you can mix and match a fair bit too – plus SE L trim comes with plenty of lovely Alcantara pieces of trim where the SEAT has some cheaper plastics.
A row of buttons below the climate controls in the Skoda is also a little more user-friendly than the Tarraco’s placement around the gearlever, but the SEAT fights back with a more ergonomic driving mode selector.
Both are pleasant places to be, and there aren’t really any quality concerns in either car, but the Skoda just nudges it for feeling the more plush of the two.
Are they practical?
These cars are designed to be, and by using the same platform they are – unsurprisingly – similarly spacious on the inside.
Whichever car you choose, in the front there’s a huge amount of space to stretch out in, with vast door bins and some very useful large storage areas in between the front seats. They can be configured with dividers and moveable cupholders, while Skoda adds a touch of usability with grippy bottoms to undo a bottle of water with one hand.
Move back a row and both cars come with three individual seats that slide and recline. Again, the door bins are big and the headroom generous. There’s little to split the two.
The third row is where things are slightly different. The seats fold out of the floor in both cars, but the Kodiaq just offers a little more headroom than the Tarraco, and also has larger windows at the side, feeling less claustrophobic.
In terms of boot space, with all seats in place, the Skoda offers slightly more space – 270 litres vs 230 litres – which is valuable if you regularly use all three rows. The SEAT also has a slight step in the load floor where the Skoda doesn’t, which contributes to its deficit in overall load capacity. It offers 1,775 litres of space with all rear seats folded down, while the Kodiaq offers a huge 2,005 litres.
All-wheel drive is available on both cars, but with greater availability on the Skoda range. Plus, there’s a dedicated Scout model with off-road driving modes and scuff plates front and rear if you plan for a more rugged life.
What are they like to drive?
Unsurprisingly, things are very similar in this category too. The Kodiaq is the more comfortable family car, though, with a softer suspension setup and the option of adaptive suspension to really make things more comfortable – this is adjustable via the driving mode selection on the touchscreen too. The Tarraco on the other hand, has a slightly firmer edge to the ride (although it’s never uncomfortable) and results in a little more body control when driving around a corner. However, 20-inch alloys are available that can further harm the ride.
As both cars use the same engines, performance is virtually identical. We’d recommend the 150hp 2.0 TDI, and it’s plenty torquey enough to pull along the cars when loaded up with passengers and luggage. Some may prefer the slight bump in power offered by the 190hp units, but for most of the time the 150hp is more than sufficient.
They’re easy to manoeuvre thanks to light controls, and the engines only get a bit grumbly and vocal when speeding up. Refinement is good in both cars, but there’s slightly less noise kicked up from the Kodiaq due to its smaller wheels.
What are they like on finance?
We've compared like-for-like specs below, but Skoda will sell you a DSG-equipped Kodiaq with this engine with front-wheel drive. The SEAT only comes with front-wheel drive with this engine if you choose a manual gearbox.
SEAT Tarraco Xcellence 2.0 TDI 150 DSG 4Drive
- £445 per month
- 48 months
- 10,000 miles per year
- £3,000 deposit (+ £2,500 deposit contribution)
- 5.8% APR
Skoda Kodiaq SE L 2.0 TDI 150 DSG 4x4
- £445 per month
- 48 months
- 10,000 miles per year
- £3,000 deposit (+ £2,000 deposit contribution)
If you don’t need all-wheel drive (and most people won’t), you can get this engine and gearbox combination in the Skoda for £419 per month, which could prove the more attractive option than the SEAT.
Or if you want a higher-spec Kodiaq, an Edition model with DSG and front-wheel drive will set you back £448 a month under the same terms.
What this demonstrates is just how similar these two cars are, but that’s no coincidence as they both fall under the VW Group and do the same job.
However, the price above for the SEAT is based on a deal with a 5.8% interest rate in combination with a deposit contribution. An alternative is a 0% APR deal with no deposit contribution, where the car comes in at £380 per month with a £3,550 deposit (10% of the value of the car). With the deposit increased, the Skoda costs more at £431 per month.
If you need some more help with all the difference car finance terms and what they mean, read more in our car finance advice section.
The Parkers Verdict
The two cars are so evenly matched, you’ll be getting a great car whichever you spend your money on. The Skoda is the more practical family car, with a marginally more spacious interior – namely the third row and in the boot – plus it’s also more comfortable on the move compared with the Tarraco.
The broader selection of engines and trim level combinations also boosts its appeal, as buyers can mix and match if they want a particular gearbox with or without all-wheel drive.
That’s not to say the Tarraco is a bad car - far from it. It looks a little sportier and still comes packed with kit like many Kodiaq models, plus it’s superior to the Skoda when it comes to finance – not least because it works out cheaper, and there are two options for financing at the time of writing.
On objective terms, the Kodiaq would just nudge it due to its more comprehensive range and more family-friendly interior. But only just.