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Renault Koleos 2012 review

Looks are important when parents are ferrying the kids to/from school and the Koleos now has them.
Craig Duff road tests and reviews the 2012 Renault Koleos.

Everyone can recall the smart kid at school who was so embarrassed by their braces that they hid at the back in the class photos. That was the Renault Koleos, a capable soft-roader blighted by a face only a parent could love.

The braces are now off with the mid-life makeover and Koleos owners can reverse park their car without being teased. It's now running with the Holden Captiva and Kia Sportage in the stylish end of the compact SUV playground.


Only 10 per cent of buyers opt for the base model Expression and Renault has left the price unchanged at $28,490 for the 2.5-litre petrol with a six-speed manual gearbox. It picks up satnav, new trim and extra creature comforts. The mid-spec Dynamique is up $1000 but the company says it now has more than $3000 of new kit.

That puts the two-wheel drive CVT at $34,490, rising to $37,990 for the all-wheel drive version and $40,990 if buyers want the 2.0-litre turbodiesel matched to a six-speed auto. The top-spec Privilege is only available as a petrol-powered all-wheel drive and costs $44,490.


The all-wheel drive system is based on Nissan's X-Trail soft-roader. That means a three-position dial lets owners choose from Auto, where torque can be distributed 50/50 to the front and rear wheels as required, 4WD Lock that works at speeds up to 40km/h and is intended for the occasional forays off the gravel tracks when looking for a camp site or 2WD, which no-one will bother with. 

The CVT on the petrol models doesn't work as well with a diesel, so the oilburner earns a six-speed auto. Bizarrely, it also means the petrol variants have a greater braked towing capacity than the diesel - 2000kg against 1300kg. The rear seats are rake-adjustable and can be dropped flat by pushing a lever, offering a big cargo area or enough room to sleep in the back.


Looks are important when parents are ferrying the kids to/from school and the Koleos now has them. The elegant (for an SUV) outside is matched by a smart interior with storage bins that are practical and plentiful. It starts with a massive 15-litre glovebox and runs to to the removable plastic tub in centre seats and a sunglass holder in place of the driver's grab handle.

Secretive types will appreciate the pair of bins mounted in the rear floor and back seat passengers have their own aircon vents in the B-pillars with an independent fan. Bluetooth is standard and the stereo is better than many in the compact SUV market.


Renault Australia head Justin Hocevar says safety is an important factor for families shopping in the compact SUV segment. If that's the case, the Koleos should be outselling its sibling, the Nissan X-Trail.

ANCAP rates it as a five-star car against four stars for the X-Trail, with the main differences resulting from the Renault's ability to better absorb the impact from the offset crash test. The Koleos is fitted with stability control and great brakes to avoid a crash in the first place, while six airbags deploy at crunch time.


The steering is light but not lifeless and that will appeal to its target audience. The two-wheel drive models do nothing wrong on an undemanding test route on highways and country roads but hefty steering or throttle inputs will cause a bit of body roll.

Progressively feed either in and it's a much better drive. On a gravel loop the all-paw model was happy to go as hard as the engines can propel the car. The suspension is Euro-biased, meaning it's initially soft to soak up small bumps but firms up as conditions deteriorate. The brakes are brilliant on any surface.


The dynamics aren't class leading, but most people don't buy these types of cars to hammer. They do buy them for practicality and features and the Koleos is a winner in that respect, from the split tailgate that doubles as a seat (200kg limit) to the mod-cons and pockets to stow all the kit that's required to tend to a young family. Renault's five-year warranty won't do it any harm, either.

Pricing guides

Based on 21 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

Bose SE (4x2) 2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $7,200 – 11,220 2012 Renault Koleos 2012 Bose SE (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Bose SE (4x4) 2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $9,100 – 13,640 2012 Renault Koleos 2012 Bose SE (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Dynamique (4x2) 2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $7,200 – 11,110 2012 Renault Koleos 2012 Dynamique (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Dynamique (4x4) 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $9,200 – 13,860 2012 Renault Koleos 2012 Dynamique (4x4) Pricing and Specs