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I collected my new Kodiaq 190PS diesel DSG Edition on 31st March after ordering it on 29th Dec and I've now covered just over 10k miles. My job as a country vet means my car is loaded up with tools and equipment most of the time and I cover about 25k miles per year (about 5-6 hours driving each working day) on a mixture of rural and urban roads, motorways and rough tracks.

My review is based on comparison with my previous Hyundai Santa Fe Premium SE, and other family cars including a Land Rover Freelander 2 and Volvo XC60 D5.

First Impressions

I had done considerable research and watched plenty of video reviews of the Kodiaq prior to delivery so I knew pretty much what to expect. I was pleased with my colour choice of Petrol Blue (Still the best looking colour in my opinion) and black leather interior to hide the inevitable dirt associated with my job.

I like to sit uprght with the seat set high and my initial impression was of a high 4x4 style driving position with a view of the bonnet unlike the more car like position of my previous Santa Fe. The driver's seat felt comfortable but the door is too far away to use as an elbow rest and the centre armrest was too low even on its highest setting. Overall quality of the interior seemed excellent although the heater controls felt a bit cheap and they fail to respond if you turn them too quickly.

From the performance figures, I was expecting the car to feel quite fast but initial impressions were of a sluggish throttle response and mediocre acceleration (More of that later). Refinement, ride and handling were just about what I expected, with a slightly firmer ride than the Santa Fe, marginally less body roll but a slight vagueness when initially turning into a corner. The Kodiaq's steering is frequently criticised in reviews for being too light but I find it perfect.

After the frustrating and oversimplified infotainment and navigation system in my previous Santa Fe, the Kodiaq's was a breath of fresh air with a bright clear screen, informative maxi-dot display, logical menus and a wide range of settings and adjustability. All the technology worked as expected and seemed to be well thought out. My only initial frustration was that the door mirrors cannot be folded at speeds over about 25mph, so passing cars on narrow country lanes means scraping the nearside mirror on a hedge or risking a brush with a wall - I still cannot see why anyone would programme them function in that way!

One problem with receiving the car near to the launch date was that I didn't have any opportunity to measure the dimensions of the loadbay before taking delivery. I have several metal chests and storage boxes containing my equipment. I found the loadbay of the Kodiaq to be slightly narrower that my previous Santa Fe but about 6inches longer. One disadvantage was that my equipment obscured the lower loadbay lighting, removeable torch, power outlet and electric towbar switch (although I realise that's not a problem form most people).

Comfort and Refinement

I opted not to select DCC on my car and overall, I'm quite happy with the ride comfort. The suspension is quite firm and larger bumps do send shudders through the body structure but not in a way that is uncomfortable or makes you feel it's damaging the car. I was a little disappointed that the suspension noise over bumps was no better than my Santa Fe had been with 110k miles on the clock, although tyre noise is reasonably well supressed and despite some review reports, there is minimal wind noise at speed. There's no disguising that the 190PS engine is a diesel, with a rather gruff tone on acceleration and some clatter when cold, although it's by no means intrusive or unrefined, just not quite the step up I was hoping for.

The driving position is adequately adjustable and I find the driver's seat comfortable and supportive. For some strange reason, if you store the electric seat memory in the rearmost position, it moves forward slightly every time the car is unlocked.

Driving

My previous Santa Fe had a manual gearbox although I'm used to driving my wife's automatic Volvo XC60. In some ways the DSG gearbox in my Kodiaq is super intelligent (For instance it changes down to use engine braking to keep you within the set speed limit), but on occasions it can be really frustrating. It sometimes seems to hang on to a low gear to the point where pedestrians look round to see why you're revving the engine so much! I'm not sure whether it's down to the characteristics of the 190 diesel engine along with the 7 speed DSG 'box, but the most annoying aspect is the uneven throttle response when you are trying to gently accelerate: The gearbox tends to keep engine revs below the point where the turbo is operating so very little happens when you initially press the throttle. On pressing it harder, the gearbox suddenly kicks down, bringing the turbo on song and causing a sudden burst of acceleration which forces you to back off the throttle again. It makes smooth acceleration very difficult, although you do become accustomed to it eventually. I don't regret having specified the steering wheel paddles which I use frequently to change down before gently accelerating. Sport mode helps but I don't feel I should need to use it all the time just to make the car more driveable.

Technology

I'm a bit of a gadget fan and I specified my Edition model with most of the available extras. I've rated the features according to my impressions so far:
Road Sign Recognition 2 out of 5
The camera frequently picks up speed limit signs on side streets. I initially set it up to warn me if over 3mph above the speed limit but soon had to turn it off because of the frequent erroneous warnings. I'd estimate it's correct about 75% of the time. One useful feature is how it automatcally displays the limits for towing vehicles when a trailer is attached.

Area View Camera 4 out of 5
The rear view camera has useful predictive course lines and the display is clear. It comes to life quickly once you engage reverse and the camera lens has a washer function to keep it clean. The front and side cameras are less useful because it's difficult to judge small distances accurately when manouevering past other cars, although they have proved useful for looking at obstacles off road and avoiding running over my client's dogs when turning around in their farmyard!

Kessy Keyless Entry and Start 5 out of 5
This is very easy to use and works as it should. It has the occasional glitch when the engine won't start unless the key is held next to the starter button. Once you're used to the touch sensitive door handles the system is really simple to use and there's no button to press on the handle that freezes stuck in winter like on my previous cars.

Handbrake and Auto Hold 5 out of 5
I'm embarrased to admit that the electric handbrake is the single thing that's impressed me most about the Kodiaq. My Santa Fe's electric handbrake was noisy, slow to engage and it would only release once the driver's seatbelt had been fastened. The Kodiaq auto-hold brake function can be left engaged all the time and the handbrake is quick, quiet and engages / releases automatically exactly when it should, so you virtually never need to touch the handbrake button.

Electric Tailgate and Virtual Pedal 3 out of 5
I open and close the tailgate at least twenty times every day so I was really looking forward to the electric function. In reality, it frustrates me because it's slow to open, meaning I tend to duck under it before it's fully open. I quite often open it just to grab my stethoscope quickly and I end up stopping the door with my hand so I don't have to wait for it to open fully before I can press the button to shut it again. For me, an ideal set up would be a manually opening but electric closing tailgate. The virtual pedal system makes it even slower to open and it only works about 75% of the time so I rarely use it.

Emergency Assist Systems (Rear Cross Protection Alert, Autonomous Emergency Braking etc) 3 out of 5
It's reassuring to know these systems are there to mitigate the effects of an accident but my experience of them so far is somewhat disconcerting. The AEB has suddenly and unexpectedly applied full braking on two occasions for no apparent reason. Thankfully there was no following traffic when it happened but both instances were quite shocking because I thought I had hit something (and my passenger wondered what the hell I was doing!). The second incidence was after I'd adjusted the sensors to low sensitivity. I've also become used to warning messages showing that the "Sensors are Impaired" which appear every week or two but tend to clear after a few minutes.

Park Assist / Self Parking Features 4 out of 5
The front and rear acoustic sensors are really handy and you can adjust their volume and tone. I am confident at parallel and reverse parking so I haven't yet tried the self parking function as yet.

Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning 5 out of 5
I have these activated all the time and although I found the steering inputs of the Lane Keep Assist quite disconserting at first, I'm now quite reliant on it. One of the main benefits (which I never really considered beforehand) is the fact that you don't have to constantly apply steering effort. Most cars seem to pull gently to the left on straight roads which can become tiresome on long journeys. With Lane Keep Assist you can gently rest a hand on the steering wheel without having to apply constant input. The Lane Departure Warning lights in the door mirrors save having to look over your shoulder as much although I've found that the system sometimes turns itself off for no apparent reason and needs to be reset.

Adaptive Cruise Control and Traffic Jam Assist 3 out of 5
The Kodiaq is my first car with adaptive cruise and I haven't really used it as much as I anticipated. Although the system is useful in certain situations, it isn't really conducive to smooth economical driving. On the motorway, you can see a hail of braking lights up ahead but the ACC continues at the set speed until you get close to the slower traffic before applying the brakes, rather than easing off and gently slowing down. I also normally tend to reduce my following distance on the motorway before pulling out to overtake, whereas you have to pull out early when using ACC to avoid it slowing down as you approach the car in front, then accelerating again as soon as you indicate to pull out.
It's a similar story with the Traffic Jam Assist, which tends to accelerate quickly then come to an abrupt half, rather than creeping along when you can see the car in front has already stopped.

Voice Activation 3 out of 5
The Voice Activation system in the Kodiaq is less accurate than the one in my previous Santa Fe and is more limited than the one in my Nissan Pathfinder was 12 years ago. Having said that, it's still useful to search for phone contacts and navigation destinations. I find it frustrating that simple procedures such as turning the navigation voice on and off are classed as "advanced features" which cannot be controlled by voice.

LED headlights, Adaptive Forward Lighting, Cornering Lighting Function and High Beam Assist 4 out of 5
The LED headlights are noticeably brighter than any of the xenon lights in my previous cars. The extra spread of light from the foglights is welcome on lower speed turns but I haven't really noticed the headlight beam pattern adapting to driving speed and weather conditions. High Beam Assist works most of the time, but I've turned it off because it's dazzled oncoming drivers on quite a few occasions when it failed to react, which meant I was manually dipping the lights as soon as I knew an oncoming car was about to appear because I didn't trust the system to do it automatically.

Electric Towbar and Trailer Assist 5 out of 5
The electric towbar is easy to deploy and replace using the button in the load area. When in use, the sat nav, road sign recognition and vehicle stability systems adapt accordingly. The rear view camera can detect the drawbar of the trailer or caravan and guide you back to it, although the image on the screen is too small to be very accurate. I haven't had cause to use the trailer reversing feature as yet but I'm looking forward to trying it when the need arises.

Infotainment and Sat Nav 5 out of 5
The navigation system is simple and quick to use. There are loads of settings for personalisation, many of which can be programmed to set automatically for individual drivers. Menus are logical on the whole and the Columbus screen is bright and clear. The Connect App is useful to record my business mileage, double check my car is locked and peruse the driving data. It was handy to receive a phone notification when the car alarm was triggered. I sometimes set my phone as a WiFi hotspot for longer journeys so the navigation system traffic updates are more accurate, but I rarely use the news, weather and petrol price functions because it's quicker an easier to access it on the phone itself. I don't think I'll be paying to extend the Infotainment Online subscription after the first 12 months.
I initially had problems with bluetooth connection to my phone (It connected fine but occasionally cut off during calls) which eventually forced me to purchase a new phone, after which it's worked fine. I find it really useful to connect two phones at the same time with the ability to read out text message and reply to them via the infotainment screen. Bluetooth music streaming, the Jukebox function and SD card playback all work as expected.

Canton Sound System 4 out of 5
I haven't experienced the standard sound system. For music streaming via Bluetooth and playing compressed MP3 files from SD card / Jukebox, the audio quality isn't discernably better than any of my recent cars, but with some fine tuning of the equaliser settings and playing CD music or higher quality audio files, it does sound clear and refined with punchy bass and crisp treble.

Faults and Defects

My last car (Hyundai Santa Fe) was the least reliable car I had ever owned and a previous Octavia 4x4 estate was the most reliable, so I am hoping for good things from the Kodiaq. Faults so far have been minor and I haven't needed to go back to my dealer as yet.

One of the first things I noticed was a noise when steering to the left. It's not an easy noise to describe but is part way between a rattle and a whine. It's most noticeable at low speeds and is also present when steering to the right but not as loud. I'm not sure whether the noise is a fault or a characteristic of the car.

From day 1, the rear doors were harder to close than the front doors and needed a firm shove to shut them properly. After about a month, the offside rear door would not shut at all and I noticed the spring out door protector was causing it to jam. I removed the protector so the door will now shut and I'll ask my dealer to repair it at the first service.

There have been two occasions when my car failed to start at the first attempt. On pressing the starter button, the starter turned over as normal but the engine did not fire. It started normally on the second attempt. I've also noticed that if the DSG box is moved to Drive or Reverse too soon after the engine is started, the engine runs roughly then cuts out.

On one occasion, the infotainment screen went blank for about 10 minutes and the associated buttons failed to work. I pulled over, stopped and restarted the car which made no difference. The screen came back on of its own accord a few minutes later. The issue has never recurred.

Off Road Capability

My job involves driving on a variety of rough tracks and occasional forays across fields. The Kodiaq seems to have slightly better ground clearance than my previous Santa Fe and the Hill Descent Control keeps the car at a lower speed. The lack of a switch to lock the 4x4 means more wheel slip on slippery surfaces but it's no worse than the competition in that respect. I've found the Area View Camera useful to look out for obstacles and check which way the front wheels are pointing. It has the same problem as the Santa Fe in that the low door sills (designed to keep your trousers clean) mean you can't open the doors if you get stuck in deep ruts so you'll have to climb out of a window or the tailgate (OK, I know that doesn't happen very often but once it's happened to you, you don't forget about it!)

MPG and Running Costs

My car has averaged 41.8mpg over its first 10k miles (according to the trip computer - I haven't yet calculated the true mpg) All 4 Hankook tyres have over 6mm of tread left. The only other cost so far was an Adblue refill at 6500 miles (purchased from a filling station) at £14.

Summary

I'm really pleased with my Kodiaq and I've no regrets with my choice of colour and spec. With a few exceptions, the technology works really well and the infotainment system is a pleasure to use. It's not quite as refined and smooth riding as some of the reviews make out but it's comfortable and enjoyable to drive, has plenty of space and should be relatively economical to own and run.
 

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You must have wrote 10000 letters, excellent reading!
 

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Excellent review.....many thanks.

I've got the same vehicle / engine combination as you (though only owned it for 4 days / 500 miles) so an interesting read.
 

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Thank you very much for the review.

Now I am glad I took DCC with 18".

Is it possible that infotainment was rebooting because of the sw upgrade? Did you try 10s press-and-hold on/off button?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi romanov,
The infotainment screen went blank after I'd been driving for over 30 mins and I hadn't recently checked for any updates. I tried holding the off button for at least 10 secs (and various other combinations of presses) but no response. The Maxi-dot display and all other controls still worked normally. I have a friend with an Audi A4 who had the identical problem although his screen was off for two hours.
 
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