By Mark Nichol
So you’ve decided you want a seven-seat crossover SUV? There aren’t too many of these things, and certainly not that many that do it on the relatively compact footprints of the Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 5008, both of which aren’t that much bigger than a Nissan Qashqai.
In our opinion these are the two best at it, at offering the compact manoeuvrability and car park friendly nature of a standard family crossover, but with significant interior space and seven-seat flexibility.
Which One's The Best Then?
Not so fast! To be honest…spoiler alert…neither is head and shoulders above the other. They’re both brilliant but in different ways, so what we’ll do is tell you how they’re different so that you can decide which of them is more ‘you’.
I Need Space - Is One More Spacious Than The Other?
Not really, although there’s a key difference in the Peugeot’s favour. Both approach the seven-seat thing in the same sort of way – in the only way they really could, given their size.
The sixth and seventh seats are of the type that both manufacturers would euphemistically describe as “occasional use”. We’ll translate that: they’re tiny. They offer very little leg room and they’re tricky to access too, involving an ungracious climb over the middle row, but they’re okay for short journeys or for smaller kids. Then again, kids universally seem to love the novelty of the back row. Anything to keep them happy/quiet, right?
What Is That Key Difference?
Well remembered. It’s that the middle row of the Peugeot has three proper seats across it as opposed to a standard bench, which is what the Skoda has. That means the middle seat of the 5008 is full-sized as opposed to the sort of ‘half’ seat you get there in most cars. So the 5008 is a true seven-seater capable of sitting three full-sized persons comfortably across the middle row. The Skoda has three belts across the middle, but anyone who’s tried to squeeze their full-sized backside between two child seats on a standard rear bench will know that it’s not a pleasant experience.
Looking for even more info on seven seaters? Take a look at our pick of the best 7-seater cars for families.
What About Rear Space In General?
Interestingly, the 5008 has a longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) than the Kodiaq, but the latter is the longer car. Wheelbase is generally a good measure of internal space, especially rear legroom, and so the Peugeot has a little more leg- and kneeroom than the Skoda. Not a deal breaking amount though, we’d say. Both serve as very spacious family crossovers.
And Boot Space?
This is the key advantage of one of these seven-seat things, because there’s a good chance you’ll have the rearmost seats folded away most of the time. It means you don’t get full-length underfloor storage like you do in a lot of family crossovers, but the boots are truly huge: 780 litres in the 5008 and 720 litres in the Kodiaq.
In both cases you’re left with a small amount of luggage space with the rearmost seats set up, enough to get a few bags of shopping in. To give you a frame of reference on the capacities, compare to 430 litres in a Nissan Qashqai or 380 litres in a VW Golf. Big boots, we cannot lie.
Both have nice flat loading bays when you drop the rear seatbacks, although in the 5008 there’s a little gap between the back of the boot and the dropped rear seats that you might lose stuff down. The Skoda’s boot gets the nod for us because it includes nice touches like an integrated torch and a place under the floor to stow the luggage cover when the rearmost seats are in use; in the 5008 it sits behind the seats, eating into space.
Go On Then, Which Has The Bigger Glove Box?
The Skoda, because as per all Peugeots the 5008 has a glovebox that’s half blanked off to cover a circuit board, the result of a lazy conversion to right-hand drive. Allegedly. The Kodiaq on the other hand has a cabin that’s a little more…well, to coin Skoda’s own phrase…’simply clever’. For a start it actually has two gloveboxes, with a second one built behind the dashboard trim. There’s more: the front doors have umbrellas built into them, there’s an ice scraper built into the fuel filler flap, the door pockets are deep for front and rear passengers, the central storage bin is deep, and the seatbacks have tray tables with cupholders built into them. It all feels built with a focus firmly on day-to-day ease of use.
As compared to the Skoda the 5008 feels a little style-before-substance, with few spaces to store things and none of the Skoda’s neat practicality flourishes.
What Are They Like To Drive?
They’re both great to drive, but in very different ways. The Kodiaq, as you might have already guessed, focusses on calmness and refinement. It has all the well-honed placidity you’d expect of a Volkswagen Group car and feels every bit as well put together as a VW Tiguan does – both in the way it drives and in build quality terms. It’s not exciting in the true sense of the word, but it’s very satisfying all the same. The driving position will suit all shapes and sizes, the visibility is excellent, and controls are lighter than Victorian Beckham’s packed lunch box.
The Peugeot, though, is truly surprising: a seven-seat SUV should not feel this much fun. Yep. It of course has a basic issue with physics (because it’s a big box, basically) and also the need to be a comfortable family car, but somehow Peugeot has managed to build a real sense of dynamism into it. It’s partly because there’s a good chassis there, with a nice balance of minimal body roll but also pothole-smothering comfort, but also partly because of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit concept.
i-Cockpit? That Sounds Terrible
It does, but it’s a brilliant thing. Boiled down it’s just a small steering wheel, but in practice it entirely changes the feel of the driving experience. The little wheel sits low, close to your thighs, with the instrument panel located above it, so the whole thing has the feel of a go-kart. A giant one, but a go kart nonetheless.
The 5008 seems to turn in quicker than it should, has plenty of grip and generally belies its proportions. It’s by far the most interesting seven-seat crossover to both sit in and to drive, and along with the slightly smaller 3008 is one of the most entertaining SUV-type cars to drive full stop.
But we’d say that what the Kodiaq loses out to the Peugeot in aesthetic appeal, it makes up for in ease-of-use. The 5008’s infotainment system is clunky to use whereas the Kodiaq’s is a picture of clarity and intuitiveness.
What About The Running Costs?
Both will serve you well in that case. The Kodiaq is powered by the same bunch of TSI petrol and TDI diesel engines that you find in all the other medium sized Volkswagen Group cars. Pick a 1.5-litre 150hp TSI petrol and you’ll get around 40mpg, be it manual or DSG automatic, while a 2.0-litre 150hp TDI diesel will get you closer to 50mpg.
The Peugeot’s engines aren’t quite as refined as the Skoda’s but they arguably have more character. The 1.2-litre PureTech Turbo petrol is a little slower than the Skoda TSI, but with a 46mpg WLTP rating it’s also more economical. We’d suggest that the Peugeot’s basic 131hp BlueHDI diesel engine is the best pick though. A little noisy and not quick on paper, but its torque advantage (300Nm) means it feels more than strong enough to haul a car full of people. It returns 57.3mpg too, officially.
Insurance costs for both are broadly similar, though a base model 5008 is in a lower insurance group (11E) than a base model Kodiaq (16E).
What About Leasing Prices?
This is where the Kodiaq has an edge because it is generally a little more cost effective in monthly lease terms, mainly because it’s priced slightly lower. The 5008 feels a more high tech in the cabin though, and just as well built, although it’s hard to separate the two in equipment terms. Both get the basics right, with air conditioning, alloy wheels, touchscreen infotainment and plenty of safety kit as standard.
If Neither Of Them Wins, What If You Were Forced To Pick One?
Honestly, it depends what you want. For driving fun, style and at least some sense that you haven’t had to give up on life entirely now that you’re a family person, it’s the 5008 all day. It’s great to drive, interesting to look at inside and out, and plenty spacious.
Sensible money goes on the Kodiaq though, mainly because it’s that bit cheaper to lease and has the most flexible cabin. It too is good to drive, but in a more conventional, comfort-oriented way.