A full used buyer’s guide on the SEAT Tarraco covering the Mk1 model that’s been on sale since 2018
We’re big fans of the Tarraco – so big, that it was our Best Large SUV three times in a row in our New Car Awards (2019, 2020, 2021). Unsurprisingly, when we pitted the SEAT in diesel form against its Skoda Kodiaq cousin and the Peugeot 5008 – two of our favourite seven-seat SUVs – it was the Tarraco that came out on top. We were impressed by the Spanish model’s generous equipment levels, keen pricing, muscular engine, refinement and engaging driving dynamics. As a used buy, those things are still part of the ownership package, and so far the SEAT seems to be bearing up pretty well in the reliability stakes. We’d recommend the Tarraco as a used buy, every bit as much as we’d recommend that you purchase one new.
SEAT was founded in 1950 in Spain, but was swallowed up by the Volkswagen Group in the mid-eighties. For years after that the firm struggled to find its place, with buyers not sure what the brand stood for.
The arrival of the sharply styled third-generation Leon was a turning point, but it was the arrival of the company’s first SUV in 2016 that set SEAT on the road to success.
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That vehicle was the Ateca and it really struck a chord with buyers, just like its smaller sibling, the Arona, which turned
up a year later. SEAT then completed its hat-trick with the introduction of the Tarraco, its first seven-seat SUV. This model embodies all that SEAT stands for within the VW Group: sharp looks, a great drive, user-friendly design and decent value.
Orders for the Tarraco opened in December 2018, with buyers able to pick between 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI and 187bhp 2.0-litre TSI petrol engines, or a 2.0-litre TDI diesel with either 148bhp or 187bhp.
In February 2020 FR and FR Sport trims were added and then a new range-topping 241bhp 2.0-litre TSI arrived in February 2021. By summer 2021 a plug-in hybrid had been announced. Known as the e-Hybrid, this paired a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with a 13kWh battery pack and 114bhp electric motor to give 241bhp, but this model has yet to arrive in the UK.
SEAT hasn’t facelifted the Tarraco yet, but as part of a mid-life refresh in August 2021 it made SEAT Connect and adaptive cruise control standard on the SE version, so it was now standard across the range.
Which one should I buy?
The 2.0 TDI is more muscular and more frugal than the 1.5 TSI, but the petrol engine is sweet and punchy. Both manual and automatic transmissions are nice to use but four-wheel drive is generally unnecessary.
Kit levels are good, with even the entry-level SE having 17-inch alloys, an eight-inch touchscreen with DAB, three-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, cruise control, LED headlights, Apple CarPlay and Google Android, plus auto headlights and wipers.
SE Technology adds nav and 18-inch rims, while the Xcellence gets 19-inch alloys, sports seats, adaptive cruise control, keyless go, self-parking and a rear-view camera. Xcellence Lux includes leather trim, electric adjustment for the driver’s seat, around view and heated front and outer rear seats.
Alternatives to the SEAT Tarraco
The Tarraco is closely related to the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace and Skoda Kodiaq, so both share many of the SEAT’s attributes, including efficient engines, user-friendly cabins and impressive build quality.
Our sister title carbuyer.co.uk named the Kia Sorento its Best Large Family Car in 2022, having awarded it Car of the Year in 2021, thanks to its impressive engines, cabin and practicality. Closely related to the Kia is the Hyundai Santa Fe, which has a great interior and offers practicality galore. Both of these come with a long warranty.
The Nissan X-Trail is stylish and practical, while the Land Rover Discovery Sport is very capable off road, but prices are high compared with the SEAT. More affordable is the Peugeot 5008, which is also very well designed inside and out.
What to look for
The 1.5 TSI is tow- rated at 2,000kg and the 2.0 TDI 150 at 2,200kg. Tarraco 4Drive versions can haul from 2,250kg to 2,450kg.
The Tarraco comes with seven seats as standard and both rear rows fold flat. The e-Hybrid, which isn’t available in the UK, has five seats.
Noisy wipers, rattling second-row seats, and rear reflector (tailgate) bars that suffer from condensation inside annoy owners.
Some owners of early Tarracos have had problems with the navigation not working. It’s not clear if the problem is hardware or software related.
While owners have a few niggles on forums, there’s nothing that’s really blotted the copybook. In fact, the closely related Skoda Karoq came second overall for reliability in our 2022 Driver Power used-car survey.
It’s typical Volkswagen Group inside, with plenty of high-quality materials throughout and a very user-friendly layout, but conservative styling. Digital instrumentation is standard across the range, and it can be configured to suit the driver.
Practicality is excellent, with lots of room for five people, or seven if you put children in the third row. The middle row slides back and forth for added versatility. The Tarraco’s boot space is good, at 700 litres in five-seat mode, or 1,775 litres with rows two and three folded flat.
There is a reasonable choice of used Tarracos out there, we found just over 250 for sale. At the bottom end of the market you’ll be buying a manual 1.5 TSI SE Technology, and this engine is the most popular. There are plenty of diesels available too, though, while about half of the Tarracos for sale are automatics.
Visit to our sister site Buyacar to get a great deal on a used SEAT Tarraco, or to check prices on a specific model head over to our valuation tool.
Tarraco owners can choose between fixed or variable servicing regimes, regardless of which engine is fitted to their car. While the fixed schedule is set at every 9,300 miles or 12 months, the variable maintenance allows up to two years or 18,600 miles between garage visits.
The first two services are priced at £215 and £269, but once a Tarraco has had its third birthday, it’s eligible for cut-price check-ups, with services alternating between minor and major, priced at £209 and £369 respectively.
On top of this, you’ll have to pay £69 after three years (and then every two years) for fresh brake fluid. Four-wheel-drive models need a Haldex oil change every three years, at a cost of £109. All engines have a cambelt that must be replaced every 130,500 miles in the 2.0 TDI, and every 186,500 miles or 15 years in TSI models. Budget £550 to have the work done.
SEAT has recalled the Tarraco four times so far. The first was in July 2019, because 122 cars made in February of that year were fitted with damaged front passenger seat frames. A replacement seat was fitted if necessary.
In September 2019, 2,042 Tarracos built up to June 2019 were recalled because faulty software could lead to the engine stalling. Updating the software fixed things. Seven Tarracos made in October 2019 were recalled in February 2020, because they had sub-standard fuel tanks. The solution was to replace the tank.
The most recent action was issued in March 2022, because 2,309 Tarracos produced between October 2020 and February 2022 were potentially fitted with engine covers that could detach. Any faulty covers found on customer cars were replaced.
Driver Power owner satisfaction
The Tarraco has yet to appear in our new or used-car surveys. But the Skoda Kodiaq came fifth in the 2022 new-car survey, and shares a lot with the SEAT, which is encouraging. There are only two owner reviews on carbuyer.co.uk (one petrol, one diesel), but both come with five-star ratings. SEAT came 24th out of 29 brands in the 2022 Driver Power used-car survey, but 17th out of 29 in the new-car poll.
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