The Renault Koleos is a big family-friendly SUV that focuses on space and comfort, but doesn’t have the option of seven seats that many of the alternative models do.
The Renault Koleos SUV is basically the same underneath as the Nissan X-Trail. However, unlike the Nissan, which has the option of seven seats, the Renault comes only as a five-seater, making it an alternative to the Skoda Kodiaq, Ford Kuga and Honda CR-V.
Unsurprisingly, the Koleos looks very like Renault’s other SUV, the smaller Kadjar, at the front, but with plenty of smarter trim and chrome to reflect its position higher in the company’s range. It’s a sensation that is continued inside, where the standard sunroof makes the cabin feel nice and airy.
It’s all very smart, too, and the Koleos gets Renault’s R-LINK 2 infotainment system in either seven-inch landscape form or with an 8.7-inch portrait display. The latter comes as standard on top-of-the-range models and it’s pretty to look and simple to use, although you’ll sometimes find its directions hard to follow and it’s frustrating that you have to use it to make minor adjustments to the ventilation system.
Interior quality is a mixed bag, too. Although there is stitched leather on the centre console’s grab handles, as well as shiny chrome trim pieces, the plastics look and feel cheaper than you would get in a Skoda Kodiaq.
What’s not open to criticism is how much space there is inside the Koleos. As Renault hasn’t had to make room for a third row of seats, all five passengers are treated to acres of head and legroom. The small hump in the floor and wide rear seats means that, even with three in the back, everyone should be happy.
The seats are all comfortable and, thanks to the wide range of adjustment on the driver’s seat and steering wheel, pretty much anyone can get a good driving position.
Perhaps the biggest reason for choosing the Renault Koleos over the Kadjar is the size of the boot. Even with all five seats upright, the boot will take the best part of 600 litres, which is more than enough for most families. Drop the rear seats and you have almost 2,000 litres to play with. All very impressive…
I just don’t get it. Why doesn’t Renault sell a Koleos with seven seats, like the Nissan X-Trail? With only five seats, this is just a bigger, more expensive Kadjar – and, if I was picking between the two, I’d always choose the cheaper car.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the Koleos feels like a large car to drive, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Unless you’re in town, you’ll only feel the worst bumps, while it’s nice and quiet inside the cabin, even at high speeds. The suspension feels quite soft, as you would expect, but the body lean is reasonably well contained unless you’re cornering very quickly. Overall, though, a Skoda Kodiaq feels sharper to drive.
There are just two engines to choose from – both diesel – and the more powerful 177hp 2.0-litre model comes as standard with four-wheel drive, a combination that actually makes the Koleos pretty handy off-road. Alternatively, to make life on-road a little easier, the same engine can also be specified with a CVT automatic gearbox that shifts smoothly and doesn’t cause the annoying drone you get in other gearboxes of this type.
Overall, though, unless you want four-wheel drive or an automatic, the 130hp 1.6-litre diesel feels pretty much as quick as the more powerful engine in everyday use and should return close to 50mpg if driven carefully.
For most people, it’ll be the best engine to choose, especially as it’s the cheaper option in a range that looks quite expensive. On the other hand, there is some justification for the high price, as the car comes with lots of equipment as standard. That includes a full-length glass roof, sat-nav, part-leather seats, ambient lighting and cup holders that can heat or cool drinks. Last, but not least, the car also scored a full five stars in Euro NCAP safety tests, which is just what any parent will want to see in a family car.
Overall, the Koleos is worth considering if you want an extremely comfortable SUV with a big boot, but don’t need seven seats. Its off-road ability and generous standard equipment are further attractions, but some of the alternatives feel better built, are more fun to drive and give you the option to specify seven seats.