2017 Skoda Kodiaq: Paris debut, U.S. next?

By Matt DeLorenzo on September 30, 2016 11:03 AM

Skoda is an auto brand unfamiliar to most Americans, but the Czech automaker is part of the global VW Group and recently took out trademarks in the U.S. Given VW’s troubles over its diesel emissions scandal, there may be some room here for a value-oriented brand untainted by those allegations. If Skoda is to come over here, some think the new 2017 Skoda Kodiak, a three-row crossover SUV, might be the perfect candidate to lead that charge.

A point worth noting to trivia experts is that Chevrolet up until 2009 marketed a medium duty truck badged with the Kodiak name. It’s interesting that Skoda calls its entry Kodiaq with a q.

If launched in the U.S., the Skoda Kodiaq is positioned to compete against the likes of Korean entries like the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe. Its Eastern European roots and production facility could put it on the same footing from a cost and features perspective, which would mean plenty of bang for the buck. The styling is crisp and clean and features a grille design that has half of Kia’s tiger nose look.

Three-row seating

Like its potential rivals, the Kodiaq will offer an optional third row for 7-passenger seating. One of the features that make it competitive in the segment is a second-row bench that splits and folds down as well as adjusts fore and aft for optimizing second-row leg room, third-row legroom or cargo room, depending on the needs of the moment.

With diesels not being totally out of favor in Europe yet, the Kodiaq will offer two 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesels abroad. For the U.S., however, it’s likely that the 2.0-liter gas 4-cylinder with 179 horsepower would be the engine of choice. Skoda has also developed two 1.4-liter turbocharged gas engines making 123 and 148 horsepower, the latter of which could also find its way into a potential U.S. portfolio. The Kodiaq comes with a 6-speed or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic depending on whether the buyer opts respectively for front- or all-wheel drive. A 6-speed manual is also offered, but not likely if the Skoda decides to export the vehicle to the U.S.

While this handsome crossover SUV is expected to be in the thick of the fight in Europe, we’ll have to wait and see if VW Group decides it needs another brand in the U.S to help expand its footprint.