When you think of mid-sized SUVs, the Renault Koleos often isn’t the first car that springs to mind. That’s despite the fact it shares a platform with one of the world’s most popular SUVs, the Nissan X-Trail.
Why do they share a platform? Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi are part of an alliance that sees them share platforms, engines, and technology across to reduce overall research and development costs.
A great idea in theory, but it often doesn’t work if there’s a common element shared between the brands that is the weak link.
In theory, that would make the Renault Koleos one to avoid, right? Not quite.
The Renault Koleos kicks off from $32,490 before on-road costs for the entry-level Life.
The car tested here, is the Koleos Zen, which costs $35,990 before on-roads. At the very top of the Koleos range is the Intens, which is priced from $45,490 before on-roads.
Renault are fairly reliable when it comes to offering buyers a deal and the Koleos Zen for example can currently be had for $35,990 drive-away with a seven-year warranty and $1000 cash back.
The Koleos Life, Zen, and Intens are all offered exclusively with front-wheel drive. The only all-wheel drive variant is the top-specification Intens 4×4.
There are seven exterior colours, with all but solid white costing an additional $880. The only other option is an electric sunroof that costs $1990. A Koleos Black Pack has just been added, which costs an additional $1000.
The standard equipment list is quite strong in the Zen variant, with the outside picking up 18-inch alloy wheels, blind spot warning, keyless entry and start, reverse-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, privacy glass, halogen automatic headlights, automatic windscreen wipers and front fog lamps.
Inside the cabin you’ll find heated seats for the first row, leatherette trim, satellite navigation, a 7.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an 11-speaker sound system, dual-zone climate control, voice recognition, and tyre-pressure monitoring.
While the car is well equipped, it’s disappointing to see halogen headlights up front. The quality of halogen headlights in general is so far behind modern LED or bi-xenon systems that they make driving in country areas or poorly-lit zones frustrating.
If you’re planning on doing a lot of country driving it’s worth looking at the next step up in the Koleos range, with the Intens fitted with LED headlights.
Euro NCAP tested the Renault Koleos in 2017, and it was awarded a five star ANCAP rating for all 2018 and onward variants in Australia.
Koleos scored an 84 per cent adult occupant protection rating, a 79 per cent child occupant protection rating, a 62 per cent pedestrian protection rating, and a disappointing 52 per cent safety assist score.
Standard safety equipment includes eight airbags, blind-spot monitoring, autonomous emergency braking, and lane-departure warning.
The Koleos looks completely different to the X-Trail (read our review here) on the inside. Renault has gone with piano black highlights around the centre console and infotainment cluster to break up the otherwise dark interior.
Central to the cabin is Renault’s R-Link 7.0-inch infotainment system that comes fitted with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. While it’s not as poor as the infotainment you’ll find in the X-Trail, it certainly isn’t the last word in sophistication.
It can be quite slow to react and will at times just ignore button pushes, with key items buried in obscure menus. Unlike the X-Trail though, the Koleos comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which means you can delegate most of the infotainment to Apple and Google, which arguably have a better handle on these things.
With that said, we loved the ability to be able to configure the design and colour of the TFT screen ahead of the driver and its digital speedometer, critical vehicle warnings. and trip computer information.
There’s also AM, FM, and DAB+ digital radio with an 11-speaker sound system that sounds pretty good for a cabin this size.
Build quality is quite good, with a distinct focus on premium materials atop the dashboard and soft-touch items on the central- and the door armrests.
While the 7.0-inch infotainment system looks good, it's not overly functional. But, on the upshot it comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There’s plenty of storage available throughout the cabin with generous door bins, centre tunnel bottle storage and a decent-sized centre console. The transmission tunnel is also (randomly) where you’ll find the switch for the cruise control or speed limiter.
Leg and headroom in the second row is very good, even for adults. With my seat in its regular seating position, which is quite far back, I had ample knee, toe, and head room. The seat back also reclines to increase boot space slightly or afford a comfier seating position for the second row.
The second row folds in a 60/40 split and can be dropped with a single pull of a lever in the boot. Beneath the cargo floor you’ll find a full-sized spare.
While it’s a welcome addition, the inclusion of the full-sized spare means there’s nowhere to hide the cargo blind should you want to remove it.
Another strange thing was the height limit of the tailgate door. At around 185cm tall I couldn’t stand beneath it without hitting my head. It wasn’t a near miss either, there was still at least 10cm on the edges of the boot that would collect shorter people.
With that said there’s 458 litres of cargo space on offer with the second row in place, which expands to 1690 litres when the second row is folded flat.
Overall the cabin is incredibly roomy and has all the creature comforts one would expect from a family hauler.
The Renault Koleos is powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated petrol engine producing 126kW of power and 226Nm of torque.
It’s mated to a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) and seconds torque exclusively to the front wheels.
It’ll move from 0-100km/h in 9.5 seconds and consumes 8.1 litres of fuel per 100km. On test we achieved 8.4L/100km with a combination of city, highway and country driving.
It runs on 91 RON unleaded fuel and has a braked towing capacity of 2000kg. A 60 litre fuel tank should see you achieve around 740km per tank of fuel.
At first you may look at the power and torque figures of the Koleos and run in the opposite direction, but it’s worth keeping in mind the relatively low kerb weight – the Koleos Zen has a claimed 1569kg kerb weight.
That makes the naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine reasonable enough to move the Koleos without too much strain.
The CVT aims to keep the car within its peak torque and power band (4400rpm and 6000rpm respectively) so if you do get stuck into the throttle it can sound a little thrashy inside the cabin as the engine fires to life, but for the most part it’s a smooth driving experience.
We pinged the Nissan X-Trail (check out our video review) for its firm ride, and expected the Koleos to go down the same path. It’s quite the opposite in the Koleos, with Renault making full use of the car’s 60-profile tyres to deliver a comfortable ride that deals well with pot holes, cobblestones, and speed humps.
It never feels flustered or brittle over poor surfaces and is just as happy when rural road conditions jump from smooth bitumen to goat track.
The softer ride means there’s a degree of body roll as the Koleos is driven through bends, but it’s not enough to unsettle the car or make you feel queasy after spending time behind the wheel.
There isn’t a great deal of feeling through the steering wheel, but there’s little resistance, which makes parking in tight spaces easy. The 11.4-metre turning circle is about normal for this type of car meaning you can get away with a single turn, as opposed to a three-point turn when spinning around.
On the highway there isn’t a great deal of road noise, but you will begin to notice noise in the cabin from the tyres on coarse chip country roads and poorly-finished surfaces.
Visibility out of the front and sides is good with generously sized wing mirrors and a blind spot monitor, but we found visibility out the rear to be a little compromised due to the narrow window envelope.
It would be nice to see a punchier engine available in the Koleos range. It makes do with a naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, it becomes noticeably slower once you load it up with family or try to tow.
Renault’s regular warranty is five years for passenger cars (although there is a seven-year warranty available at the moment on Koleos) with 12-monthly service intervals.
While most other manufacturers offer 10,000km, 15,000km, or 20,000km service intervals, the Koleos has generous 30,000km service intervals.
Servicing is capped at $429 for four of the first five services (the fourth service costs $999), which means servicing over the five-year warranty period comes out to $2715, or $543 per service on average.
So while the service pricing is positively priced for customers that travel more than the national average each year, it can get a little expensive if you’re doing regular mileage each year.
We were pretty surprised by the Renault Koleos Zen. We were expecting a bland clone of the Nissan X-Trail, but it delivers higher highs and looks quite premium even at this lower end of the Koleos range.
The ride is infinitely better than the X-Trail, and it delivers an incredibly roomy interior with plenty of storage and a focus on families.
It’s let down ultimately by a lacklustre infotainment system and an engine that could do with a little more punch. But it does make up for the infotainment system’s functionality shortfalls with the inclusion of smartphone mirroring.
Our conclusion is at this price point and with a drive-away offer, the Koleos delivers great value for money for buyers who want a no-frills family SUV.
It doesn’t deliver some of the technology or features of its competitors, but most of them require a buyers to shell out considerably more money for the experience.
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