You get plenty of car for your hard-earned with this medium SUV, which will accommodate a fast-growing family.
The Koleos is a mid-sized SUV worth knowing about if you’re a new or expecting dad in the market for some family wheels. First launched on the Australian market in 2008, it is French manufacturer Renault’s top-selling model on our shores.
The Koleos is based on the Nissan X-Trail, sharing the same engines and other under the metal bits but it has a distinct French style that gives it a very different look and feel.
The five-seater is available with either a petrol or diesel engine and the option of front or all-wheel-drive systems. There are four trim levels with the price ranging from $30,990 to $47,490.
We were provided with the entry level 2.5 Life 2WD petrol model to test.
Strap ’em in
The Koleos is one of the bigger medium-sized SUVs available and you really notice the extra space in the interior, with rear seat room and access that is class leading.
Fitting the bigger rear-facing car seat barely required the front seats to be moved forward. Once the baby seat was set up, I was able to sit in the front passenger seat in comfort with plenty of space between my knees and the glovebox.
Even with it positioned behind the driver’s seat, at 180cm I barely needed to move the seat forward of my preferred driving position.
There are not many other cars, especially in the medium SUV segment, where I would be comfortable to have two rear-facing seats set up in the back seat but it would not be an issue in the Koleos.
There is even enough space for an adult to sit between the two baby seats.
Fitting the baby seats, whether secured using ISOFIX fittings or the seat belt is a simple, straight forward operation. The anchor point for the top tether is in the back of the rear seat making it easy to access and adjust.
With the 2100mm ground clearance and large rear doors, I could get the baby in and out of the baby seat without having to bend over at all – it was as if the car had been tailor made for me.
In the entry-level Life the seats are covered in what Renault describes as a Dark carbon cloth upholstery. This is hard wearing and water repellent (I can attest to this after more than a little water was spilt on the seats through our travels), and easy to clean.
In terms of comfort, the seats are a little on the hard side so you feel like you are sitting on them rather than in them.
For power there are 12 volt sockets front and rear and two USB ports in the centre console that can be used by the front or rear-seat passengers. It also has an air conditioning and heating vent in the rear seat.
There is plenty of storage with drink holders and storage in all the doors as well as 35-litres of additional storage in the centre console and glove box.
For those hot summer days drink holders in the centre console have a cooling function. (Not a function I felt the urge to test at the tail end of a freezing winter).
On the road, I found the cabin nice and quiet with virtually no wind noise, and no signs of any squeaks, rattles or tyre noise.
The cargo space is another area where the Koleos gets a big tick. At 458-litres, with the two rows of seats in place, it is bigger than most of its five-seat competitors.
This means you can fit a large pram across the back of the rear seat and still have acres of room for anything else you may need to carry.
For those times you need to carry extra gear the rear seat is split 60/40, and with both sides folded flat you have a very useful 1690-litres of space.
On the downside there is no storage in the vehicle for the cargo blind, and the rear door, which needs to be opened manually, is quite heavy. There is a full-size spare tyre under the cargo floor but nowhere in the vehicle to store the cargo blind.
The infotainment system in the Life is basic and I did not find it very intuitive, though that could say more about me than the technology, with controls for the stereo and phone on a small stalk, which is hard to see and get to, off the steering wheel.
The screen is on the small side at 7.0-inches, especially sitting in the middle of such a big dash. The other models get an 8.7-inch screen.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard so while there is no sat nav this can be easily remedied by phone mirroring, which I think is much better than paying extra to have sat nav built into the car. The eight-speaker 3D Arkamy sound system is pretty good.
The Life also comes standard with cruise control with a speed limiter, auto lights and windscreen wipers, a cornering function in the fog lights that throws additional light toward the curb when cornering and a tyre pressure monitor.
Euro NCAP Safety Rating: 5 Stars
The Koleos was crash tested rated by Euro NCAP, which operates under the same guidelines as ANCAP but with a slightly different scoring system.
It scored the maximum five-star rating and was giving scores of 90 per cent (34.5 points) for adult occupant, 79 per cent for child occupant, 62 per cent for pedestrian safety and 75 per cent for safety assist equipment, which included a lane departure warning system and a speed assistance system that identifies local speed limit signs and enables the driver to set the speed limiter appropriately. These systems are not available on the entry-level Life tested.
It does come with six airbags, forward warning system with autonomous emergency braking and a rear view camera with rear parking sensors. You need to move up to the top spec variants for features like lane departure and blind spot assist and self parking.
I would describe the performance of the Koleos as adequate rather than sporty or enjoyable. It is comfortable and well-mannered and the 2.5-litre engine is strong enough to ensure it moves along nicely in most situations.
The Continuously Variable Transmission is well matched to the four-cylinder engine though both can get a little noisy under hard acceleration. The steering is light, which will suit most, and predictable and the suspension compliant on most road surfaces.
In regards to visibility, the A-pillars, which are bigger than Arnie Schwarzenegger’s calves, in combination with the side mirrors create a significant blind spot on either side of the windscreen.
While the fuel economy is not as good as some of its competitors, according to the in-car computer we averaged 7.7L/100km throughout the test period which was all done in the metropolitan area though with a lot of freeway driving.
This is 0.4L/100km better than the official fuel consumption figure of 8.1L/100km.
The wife’s take
When I heard we were getting a Renault to test I was surprised. I had always associated the Renault name with low-slung, stylish sedans and hatches.
While the Koleos wasn’t ugly, I wouldn’t be drawn to it because of its styling. It was a bit boxy for me.
The interior was better with a well laid out dash, though I was a bit disappointed at how much of your view was obstructed by the A-pillars (he who knows about these things told me that is what they are called).
No matter what they are called they are big and when sitting in the driver’s seat they block your view.
On the plus side, and it is a big plus for families, it was a big car, the boot had plenty of room for baby paraphernalia and shopping, and the cabin was roomy enough to easily accommodate two car seats without anyone in the front having their knees around their ears.
“I wouldn’t be drawn to it because of its styling. It was a bit boxy for me.”
The entry-level Koleos Life is a lot of car for the money.
While it may be missing some of the driver assist technologies that are available today (they are on the top spec models) it does come with forward collision warning and autonomous braking that will help prevent rear-end collisions and it has a solid five-star crash rating.
It also drives well, looks good and the cabin is one of the biggest in its class providing plenty of room for baby seats, even if you need to be using two rear-facing seats at the same time, and all the paraphernalia that comes with two babies.
The five-year warranty with capped price servicing and road side assist provides peace of mind needed when looking for a family car. The only question hanging over Renault in Australia is resale value which is still lower than many of its competitors.
Mazda CX-5 2.0 Maxx 2WD
Price: $30,690 RRP
Engine/Transmission: 2.0-litre (114kW/200Nm) with six-speed automatic transmission
The top selling car in the segment cannot match the Koleos in terms of interior space with a smaller back seat and cargo area. The entry-level model comes standard with keyless entry and start, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert not offered on the Koleos. The engine is smaller but it provides a more sporty driving experience.
Nissan X-Trail 2.5 ST 2WD
Price: $30,990 RRP
Engine/Transmission: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol (126kW/226Nm) with Continuously Variable automatic with seven manual steps
Not surprisingly the X-Trail provides the same performance as the Koleos and is very similar in size with a slightly bigger cargo area and slightly less back seat space. About the only thing it offers over the its close relation is keyless entry. It really gets down to a choice of body design and badge preference.
Kia Sportage 2.0 Si 2WD
Price: $29,990 RRP
Engine/Transmission: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol (114kW/192Nm) matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Sportage is closer in size to the CX-5 than the Koleos and is the only model in the comparison that does not offer any driver assist technology (you need to go up to higher spec models.) It also is the cheapest model of the four and still comes with a five-star crash rating. The 2.0-litre engine is a willing little performer providing an engaging driving experience.
• Price: $30,990 (RRP)
• Warranty: Five year unlimited km with up to four-years roadside assist
• Servicing: 12 months or 30,000km. Three years capped price servicing
• Fuel Consumption: (Official) 8.1L/100km (During test) 7.7L/100km
• Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder
• Power: 126kW/226Nm
• Transmission: Continuously Variable automatic with seven manual steps
• Visit HBF for a tailored insurance quote
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