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Renault Koleos 2019 review: Life

The Renault Koleos is a French-branded model based on a Japanese SUV, but it's built in Korea.
EXPERT RATING
7
The Renault Koleos is an important vehicle for the French brand, particularly in Australia. As a competitor to the likes of the Nissan X-Trail (which it's based on) and Honda HR-V, it has a tough job.

Renault's Koleos is a bit of an oddity. It doesn't really fit in the current Renault ouevre but the French giant really needed a mid-size SUV. Luckily for Renault, it had a ready-made platform to borrow from partner brand Nissan.

This is the second Koleos to ride on the guts of a Nissan X-Trail, which means a lot of the hard work is already done and Renault just has to be Renault and do something quirky, right?

Right? 

Renault Koleos 2019: Life (4x2)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.1L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$30,990

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The Life kicks off the Koleos range at a reasonable $30,990 (plus on-road costs). It rolls off the boat from South Korea (yup) with 17-inch alloys, an eight-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, central locking, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, auto headlights and wipers, cloth trim, power windows, heated and powered rear vision mirrors and a space-saver spare.

  • The Koleos comes with 17-inch alloy wheels. The Koleos comes with 17-inch alloy wheels.
  • Under the boot floor you'll find a space saver spare. Under the boot floor you'll find a space saver spare.

The R-Link multimedia system runs on a 7.0-inch touchscreen that is occasionally maddening but mostly easy to use. The graphics are a bit on the old side, but Apple CarPlay/Android Auto knock the edges off that faux pas, as well as making up for a lack of sat nav.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   6/10

I really like the Koleos' front end - straight down the road, LED daytime running lights forming that big set of parentheses around the grille. I like it. Strong, confident, Renault. The rest. Not so much. 

Obviously it's not bad but the more I see it, the more X-Trail I see. Which is okay, but that's the problem. It's not a Renault in that sense and so is compromised - it looks like two different cars. That may not matter to you - and that is perfectly fine - but it left me a little disappointed at first, and it still does.

The more I look at the Koleos, the more X-Trail I see. The more I look at the Koleos, the more X-Trail I see.

The cabin is a bit more Renault. I'm quite taken with its cloth trim and the French feel of the dash design is no doubt most welcome to both Renault fans and newcomers to the brand. It's not always something the company gets right. It's well built, too, which isn't always a French quality.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The Koleos' interior space is pretty good for the segment. Rear legroom is generous but, as always, middle seat passengers will want to be on the small side.

  • For the segment, the Koleos has pretty good interior space. For the segment, the Koleos has pretty good interior space.
  • Rear legroom is generous. Rear legroom is generous.

Front and rear passengers score a pair of cupholders each and they're in the Japanese rather than French tradition, which means they actually hold, you know, cups and even keeps them upright in corners. Each of the doors will hold a bottle, too.

Boot space is competitive for the class, starting at 458 litres and jumping to 1690L with the seats down.

  • Boot space starts of at 458 litres. Boot space starts of at 458 litres.
  • Place the rear seats down and boot space grows to 1690 litres. Place the rear seats down and boot space grows to 1690 litres.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The 2.5-litre four-cylinder drives the front wheels in the Life model through a depressingly mediocre CVT from Nissan. This version and the Zen above it are FWD, the Intens flagship is FWD or AWD, depending on your preference, and you can get a diesel in the top spec only.

The petrol engine produces 126kW and 226Nm, propelling the relatively light (1552kg in this spec) Koleos to 100km/h in 9.5 seconds.

The 2.5-litre four-cylinder produces 126kW/226Nm. The 2.5-litre four-cylinder produces 126kW/226Nm.

If you plan to tow, the petrol is curiously better than the higher-priced (and higher spec) diesel, towing 2000kg versus the diesel's 1650kg.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The official combined figure for a front-wheel drive Koleos is 8.1L/100km. My week with the big Renault gave me an indicated 11.3L/100km, which is par for the course in my experience. The slightly heavier all-wheel drive is listed at 8.3L/100km but the gap between official and real life is bigger.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The Life has six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, brake force distribution, forward AEB, reversing camera, forward collision warning and lane departure warning. 

There are two ISOFIX points and three top-tether restraints.

ANCAP finally got to the Koleos in October 2018 and awarded it a five-star safety rating.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Renault offers a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty and up to four years' roadside assist. Service costs are capped for the first three years and service intervals are an impressive 12 months/30,000km.

Pricing for the first three services is capped at $349.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

The Life's front-wheel drive chassis is perfectly adequate. If you're hoping for an injection of French fun, you're out of luck. While most other Renaults, even the largely ignored Captur, are a bit of fun to drive, the Koleos errs more to the American side of things. And that includes one of my least favourite car features of all time, the foot-operated parking brake.

As I've noted before, the Life's tyres aren't really all that good and could do with a bit more grip on wet roads. Even with the slow-witted CVT, the fronts will spin up out of a roundabout with almost no provocation.

The ride, however, is pretty good, but with none of the taut, ready-for-action feel I like in other Renaults. It's also really quiet when you're underway, making it an easy place to be. The seats are comfortable, too. 

Unsurprisingly, that's pretty much the same way I describe the X-Trail when people ask. Rides well, quiet, dud transmission but does the job if you're not looking for a rocket. Although I do think the Koleos has the better interior by a decent margin.

Verdict

Despite its flaws, I'm personally very fond of the Koleos - that doesn't mean you will be, obviously. I like the way it goes about its business and it's a Renault for people who aren't looking for something peculiar to the segment. In other words, it ain't no Avantime.

And that's okay - Renault could probably do with a sensible car in an important segment and the Koleos meets all the criteria for sensible. It's well-priced, the ownership proposition is a good one and it doesn't do anything whacky. Apart from wearing a Renault badge, with Japanese underguts and being built in South Korea, obviously.

Is the Koleos an interesting alternative or just a boring clone of a mid-size SUV?

Pricing Guides

$39,490
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$30,990
Highest Price
$47,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
FORMULA EDITION 2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $35,990 2019 Renault Koleos 2019 FORMULA EDITION Pricing and Specs
Intens (4x4) 2.0L, Diesel, CVT AUTO $47,490 2019 Renault Koleos 2019 Intens (4x4) Pricing and Specs
INTENS S-EDITION (4x2) 2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $43,990 2019 Renault Koleos 2019 INTENS S-EDITION (4x2) Pricing and Specs
INTENS S-EDITION X-TRONIC(4x2) 2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $43,990 2019 Renault Koleos 2019 INTENS S-EDITION X-TRONIC(4x2) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Price and features7
Design6
Practicality7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety8
Ownership7
Driving7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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