Renault Koleos review
The Koleos is a strong SUV contender with premium style and plenty of safety tech on board
The third model in the Renault SUV range is the Koleos, and it's the largest car in the line-up, slotting in above the Kadjar and Captur. It's only slightly bigger than the Kadjar, as it uses the same platform, while the extra space is used to create more rear passenger room, although unlike some rivals, there's no seven-seat option on sale.
There's just one five-door, five-seat body style available, and prices start from around £28k for a Dynamique S model. Despite being the entry-level trim, it’s loaded with standard kit so it represents very tempting value. The Signature and Initiale Paris are even better equipped, though at over £37,000, the latter is far too expensive to justify over other more capable premium rivals.
Standard equipment includes a 7-inch touchscreen featuring sat-nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera, an opening panoramic sunroof and 18-inch alloy wheels. On top of that, Signature cars get an upgraded 8.7-inch touchscreen, LED headlamps and part-leather upholstery with heated front seats. The Initiale Paris features a host of luxury kit, including 19-inch wheels, two-tone nappa leather and a Bose stereo.
There are two engines available in the Koleos, both diesel and both of which are from the Kadjar. The 1.6 dCi 130 has 128bhp, while the larger 2.0 dCi 175 has 173bhp. The latter is 4WD as standard, and you can add Renault's X-Tronic CVT auto. Both 4WD and the X-Tronic box are standard on the Initiale Paris.
The Koleos is built on the same Renault/Nissan Common Module Family platform as the Kadjar, so it also shares much of its technology with one of its rivals, the Nissan X-Trail. Other contenders for your money in the segment include the Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento, plus the Skoda Kodiaq and lower-end versions of the Land Rover Discovery Sport. All these bar the Ford Edge come with the option of seven seats, making them more versatile than the Koleos.
The Renault Koleos is a fitting flagship for the French manufacturer’s SUV/crossover line-up. It’s spacious, comfortable, well equipped and will carry five people in premium style, along with their luggage. Crisply styled exterior lines are complemented by one of the better-executed Renault interior designs that we can remember and, with part-leather seats and a full panoramic sunroof, there’s a genuinely luxurious ambience.
While pleasant to drive, the Koleos can’t match the dynamic ability of some of its sportier rivals, and the ride around town isn’t quite as accomplished as the best on that score either. Renault’s focus on excellent rear passenger space means there’s also more luggage volume in some key rivals.
Engines, performance and drive
The Koleos name was previously used on a mid-sized SUV that was dropped in 2010; this new model shares nothing with that car. It’s now a large SUV that sits at the top of the Renault range, and is aimed at buyers wanting plenty of space and a more upmarket feel.
It’s based on the Renault-Nissan CMF-CD platform, so it shares parts with the Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail, as well as Renault’s own Kadjar SUV.
The Koleos is a fairly chunky vehicle and its height off the ground means it’s not the most agile of machines. Still, the engineers have produced a car that steers well, with neat and direct responses to inputs from the wheel. We’re also impressed with the body control in corners, as there’s not too much of the roll which can afflict this type of car and cause a certain amount of queasiness for passengers. It’s comfortable on fast, smooth roads as a result, but the Koleos seems a bit unsettled at low speed on its large 19-inch wheels, but it does soak up big bumps reasonably well. Once you get up to pace the Renault rides smoothly enough, and it does have the Ford Kuga beaten for overall ride quality, if not the Skoda Kodiaq.
Vague steering and a high-set driving position mean it’s not exactly fun to drive. The Koleos is heavy when compared to some rivals, tipping the scales at 1,829kg, and that extra bulk does numb its handling. Meanwhile, the inconsistent steering weight also takes away from driver enjoyment.
The 2.0-litre diesel is linked to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), but the firm has engineered it in seven ‘steps’ that act like conventional gears. These work even in auto mode, so the revs rise and fall naturally as you accelerate. Only if you push a bit harder will you notice the difference in the gearbox, as the revs soar and are held longer than with more conventional auto units.
You can also put the box into ‘manual’ mode, but it won’t stay in the set gear – as you accelerate, it will ‘change up’ for you, which defeats the object of the mode. It’s best to stick to the normal setting.
The CVT hurts refinement, especially next to Skoda’s twin-clutch DSG. It revs up a lot when you pull away from a standstill, and the rattly diesel doesn’t sound particularly pleasant. It affects throttle response, too, because when you press the accelerator pedal it takes a long time to decide what to do with the engine speed
There are two diesel engines in the Koleos SUV’s portfolio, and the lower-powered version is a 128bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder unit that’s only available with two-wheel drive. Thus equipped, the Koleos will accelerate from zero to 62mph on 11.4 seconds, and on to a 115mph maximum. The torque figure of 320Nm is not to be sneezed at either, but if you want a bit more go, the 2.0-litre engine performs strongly. However, the diesel rattle is a little too audible compared to some rivals.
Torque is 380Nm and power is 175bhp, which, in four-wheel drive manual guise, delivers a 0 to 62mph time of 10.7 seconds and a 126mph maximum. Go for the CVT auto gearbox and the Koleos is even quicker off the line, reaching the 62mph benchmark in a sprightly 9.5 seconds. It does feel sluggish off the line as the revs build, however.
MPG, CO2 and Running Costs
The Renault Koleos price can look a little steep against rivals such as the Skoda Kodiaq, but once the French machine’s generous equipment levels have been factored in, the differential makes more sense.
Running costs for the Koleos will obviously be higher than those of its smaller Renault crossover stablemates, but shouldn’t be too alarming. The most efficient model is the 1.6 dCi diesel which can eke up to 57.6mpg out of a gallon of diesel according to the official figures. The standard six-speed manual gearbox helps, as does the fact that the smaller engine only comes with front-wheel drive, saving weight and friction losses compared to the 4x4 models.
Even though it’s four-wheel drive only, the 2.0 dCi unit is also pretty efficient - especially considering its decent performance. Official figures suggest up to 50.4mpg is possible with manual gears, or 47.9mpg with the CVT X-Tronic.
C02 emissions for the smaller engine are quoted at 128g/km, putting the model in the 27% benefit-in-kind tax band for company car drivers. The bigger engine in 4x4 models emits 148g/km or 156g/km with X-Tronic, so BiK rates are 31 and 33 per cent respectively.
While most versions of the Koleos will attract a road tax charge of £140 per year, watch out if you put options on the top model that take the price over £40k. In that case you’ll face an annual £310 surcharge on top of the £140 until the car reaches its sixth birthday.
The insurance ratings for the Koleos are based only on the engine, and there’s no difference between rates for trim levels. 1.6-litre diesels are Group 18 while the 2.0-litre cars are group 23.
Nobody has ever bought a Renault in the expectation of winning the depreciation war at resale time, but the Koleos is an ‘on trend’ machine with a decently premium feel so is likely to do better than some of its stablemates. Aim to retain 40 per cent of value after three years and 30,000 miles, and you might even do a little better – especially if you pick the lower spec.
Interior, design and technology
Although the Renault Koleos shares its floorpan and fundamental engineering with the Nissan X-Trail, if you didn’t know you’d be hard-pressed to make the connection. The Renault has a distinctive style all of its own, with swoopy lines that manage to combine an air of sportiness with a luxurious, premium feel. The front end is dominated by a big Renault diamond at the centre of a full-width horizontal chrome-slatted grille. That grille runs into some very contemporary LED headlamps that provide a bold ‘C’ shape lighting signature at each corner of the car.
A chrome trim piece along the top section of the front wings creates the sense of a clamshell bonnet design, while muscular bulges over the wheels give the Koleos a chunky and foursquare look. The rear features a tailgate with a spoiler at its top, and a wide rear light and reflector set-up that mimics the shapes in the front grille. Big chunky alloy wheels fill the arches, while the door bottoms feature ‘uplighter’ sections that reflect daylight up the bodysides to emphasise the sculpted looks.
Inside, we find one of the best interiors Renault has put together yet, with a central touchscreen mounted high on the console reducing the number of buttons and switches required. The digital instrument cluster is carried over from the Kadjar and the Megane, and there’s a generally upmarket ambience with plenty of soft-touch plastics, chrome highlights and a sense that everything is well screwed together. It’s well-equipped too, with features such as dual-zone climate control, part leather upholstery, heated and chilled cupholders, plus keyless entry and automatic headlights all available – as is a hands-free parking system.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
A seven-inch touchscreen display is fitted as standard on every Koleos, but the Signature Nav model comes with this larger 8.7-inch screen. The sat-nav system is provided by TomTom, so you get live traffic and European mapping included, and the instructions are clear and easy to read. DAB radio and Bluetooth are standard, alongside Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
It’s a shame the smartphone link is displayed as a tiny landscape-orientated box in the middle of the screen, rather than taking up the full portrait display. It feels like an oversight when you’ve got this kind of screen in the car.
The display is nice and big, but it’s not as good as the unit fitted in a Skoda Kodiaq. The touch interface isn’t as responsive as the Skoda’s, and using the screen to change settings for the air-con is a frustrating exercise when you’re on the move. You also get a seven-inch TFT screen behind the steering wheel, which displays relevant driving data inside a large digital speedometer.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Although the lack of a seven-seat option may be a disappointment for some Koleos customers, there’s not much else to grumble about in the way of accommodation.
The seats are comfortable and the cabin roomy, and on most road surfaces the ride is sufficiently pliant to make long journeys a pleasure – the raised ride height giving a good view out for driver and passengers alike. Wind noise isn’t a problem either, but those big tyres can generate a bit of roar.
With four USB ports for plugging-in personal devices, big door bins and those heated/chilled cupholders up front, the Koleos cabin is a great place to settle into for a long haul.
The Koleos is 4,672mm long, 1,678mm high and 1,843mm wide, which makes it a tad shorter than the 4,967mm Skoda Kodiaq. It’s around 40mm narrower too. The Nissan X-Trail is smaller again, at 4,640mm long x 1,820mm wide – but a little higher than either of its rivals.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
There’s loads of room for driver and passengers in the front of the Koleos, and kneeroom for rear passengers is among the best in the class. Headroom is more than adequate for tall occupants too, and there’s a light and airy feel inside the cabin thanks to the big panoramic sunroof.
The large hatchback rear door is powered on top spec Koleos models, so if you waggle your foot under the rear bumper (with the keycard in your pocket) it opens upwards to reveal a spacious boot with a luggage volume of 565 litres. Fold the seats down and you get 1,795 litres of luggage space. It’s a decent showing, but the Skoda Kodiaq is ultimately more practical with a seats up/down boot volume of 720/2,005 litres. The Koleos is rated to tow 2,000 kg which is enough for a caravan or horsebox, but again the Kodiaq bests it with a 2,500 kg limit.
Reliability and Safety
The Renault Koleos comes with the reassurance of a 5-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating. It scored 90 per cent for adult occupant safety, 79 per cent for child occupants, 62 per cent for pedestrians and 75 per cent for its safety assistance systems. (The Skoda Kodiaq’s scores were 92, 77, 71 and 54 per cent across the same categories.)
Safety features included or available on the Koleos – aside from a full complement of airbags – include blind spot warning, hill start assist, active emergency braking, road sign recognition and the hands-free parking system.
We’d expect the Koleos to be pretty reliable too, although it’s too early to reflect meaningful customer feedback. That said, the Nissan X-Trail shares much of its engineering and came 64th out of the top 75 performers in our Driver Power Satisfaction survey, with 22 per cent of owners reporting a fault in the first year. It will be interesting to see if Renault has ironed out any of the problems.
The Koleos benefits from a four-year/100,000-mile warranty, which is better than many Japanese and German rivals – including the three-year cover on the closely related Nissan X-Trail and the Skoda Kodiaq. But it is less than the five years offered by the Hyundai Santa Fe and the seven years cover offered by Kia on its Sorento.
Service intervals are annual or every 18,000 miles for the Koleos, and you can buy service plans costing around £450 for three years/30,000 miles.