Unlike many of its rivals that have up to five different SUVs in their range Renault has settled on just two models, the compact Captur and, the subject of this test, the mid-sized Koleos.

A relatively late arrival on the SUV market Koleos went on sale in Australia in 2008. After facelifts in 2011 and 2013 the current, second-generation, model was released here in 2016.

Built at the Renault Samsung Motors plant in Busan, South Korea it shares the same platform, engine and transmission as the Nissan X-Trail.

Three variants are available: Life, Zen and Intens.

The entry level Life has cloth seat trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors; rain-sensing wipers and reversing camera. The mid-spec Zen adds the option of all-wheel drive together with artificial leather seat trim; front seat warmers; powered driver’s seat with lumbar support; 18-inch alloys; blind spot warnings; satellite navigation; push-button start/stop; tyre pressure monitoring; electronic parking brake; and front parking sensors.

The top of the range Intens gets 19-inch alloys; LED headlights; panoramic sunroof; parking assistance system; auto dimming rear view mirror; ventilated front seats; powered front passenger’s seat with lumbar support; and powered tailgate.

Koleos is a big, bold vehicle. The front features an almost vertical grille with chromed strips that run from the headlights along the full length of the guards and all the way back to the ‘gills’ in the front guards. The centre of the grille features a large Renault diamond with another diamond at the rear between horizontal taillights.


Unlike its Nissan sibling Koleos only comes with five seats. Getting in and out is comfortable without too much bending or head scraping. There’s enough rear space in all directions for three adults to travel in comfort. With two rear passengers the central armrest can be folded to reveal twin o inbuilt drink containers.

There’s a clever touch to the interior lighting with the LED able to be switched between five colours and also to be dimmed.

The Intens gets a powered panoramic sunroof as standard. It’s available as an option in Zen but not offered in Life.

There’s good volume of storage space with 458 litres when the rear seatbacks are in place, extending to 1690 litres when they are folded. There’s a full-size spare below the boot floor.

All models get a one-touch folding mechanism for the rear seatbacks. Intens has an automatic bootlid opening via the key fob and and can be closed either the same way or with a button on the bottom of the lid. The opening height can be reduced if needed.


Standard across the Koleos range are six airbags; ABS brakes with emergency brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution; electronic stability control; hill-start assist; IsoFix child seat anchors; reversing camera; rear parking sensors; tyre pressure monitoring; height adjustable headlights; and front and rear foglights. All variants now also get Advanced Emergency Braking System (AEBS) and Lane Departure Warning.

Zen adds front parking sensors; electronic parking brake; and automatic ‘walk-away’ door locking while the Intens tops off the safety package with advanced emergency braking; forward collision warning system; lane departure warning; blind spot monitoring; LED headlights with automatic high/low beam switching; side parking sensors; and parking assistance system.

Koleos comes with the choice of petrol of diesel engines. The petrol is a 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder unit with peaks of 126 kW and 226 Nm at 4400 rpm. The diesel, only available in the top-spec Intens, has a capacity of 2.0 litres with 130 kW of power and 380 Nm of torque from 2000 rpm.

Oddly, although the diesel has significantly more torque than the petrol its towing capacity is 1600 kg compared with the 2000 kg behind the petrol unit. A Renault spokesman explained that this was due to the petrol engine being specially retuned to provide extra capacity to meet European demands.

Koleos also comes with the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The AWD has three drive options: 2WD, Auto and Lock controlled by a switch on the centre console.

Koleos gets Renault’s latest R-Link 2 system for its infotainment technology. The premium Intens model displays onto an 8.7-inch tablet-style touchscreen with the Life and Zen getting a 7.0-inch portrait screen.

Intens has two rear-seat USB ports in addition to the single one in the front console.

Life and Zen have an eight-speaker Arkamys sound system, upgraded to a 12-speaker Bose system with subwoofer and digital amplifier in the Intens.

As mentioned entry and exit is easy and the driver’s seat is wide, supportive and comfortable. The steering wheel is both tilt and reach adjustable.

Our test car was the mid-spec Zen 2.5-litre petrol entry-level Life with its key-in-ignition start, foot-operated parking brake and manual front seat adjustment.

These minor annoyances aside it’s a capable enough vehicle with good, but unexciting, performance from its 126 kW / 226 Nm engine, the latter not reaching its peak until a fairly high 4400 rpm. We found it needed a bit of coaxing to climb steepish hills and when overtaking. Fortunately there is a pre-set manual to assist the CVT.

Suspension is a little harsh and relatively firm without making the ride uncomfortable. Steering is light and direct.

The motorway is the natural habitat of the new breed of largish SUVs and Koleos showed that it could cruise comfortable despite its fairly modest engine capacity and outputs. Peak torque at 4400 rpm is relatively high in a class which is increasingly using turbo power. However, our test runs showed good pulling power from about 2000 revs with the added benefit of having no turbo lag. Even when pushed the cabin remained well insulated from outside noise.

Off-road Koleos had no trouble traversing some corrugated dirt backroads with help from the 210 mm ground clearance. It would be best to avoid anything too serious because the approach and departure angles are fairly shallow but most if its rivals are in the same situation.

Fuel consumption is listed at 8.3 litres per 100 kilometres from the 4WD models (8.1 L/100km in the 2WD). We averaged 9.5 L/100 km during our week in the Zen, acceptable enough for a fairly large 4WD wagon.

Renault Koleos is attractively-styled medium-large SUV that performs and drives well, with commendable economy, plenty of interior space and good safety levels. Because of its European design it has a good blend of subtle style, genuine off-road ability with great load-carrying versatility.

It certainly doesn’t deserve to trail its market-leading competitors to the extent that it does and so is well worth a comparison test drive.

The close alignment between the Koleos and the big-selling Nissan X-Trail is a big plus for the French car because it should reassure potential buyers who may have any reliability and quality concerns. Despite pricing of the two models being similar, X-Trail outsells Koleos by a ratio of around seven to one.

As of 1 April 2019 both brands now provide five-year, unlimited kilometre standard warranties.


Life 2.5-litre petrol 2WD: $30,990 (CVT automatic)
Zen 2.5-litre petrol 2WD: $35,490 (CVT automatic)
Zen 2.5-litre petrol AWD: $37,990 (CVT automatic)
Intens 2.5-litre petrol AWD: $45,990 (CVT automatic)
Intens 2.0-litre diesel AWD: $47,490 (CVT automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Renault dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Renault Koleos Life 2.5-litre petrol 2WD five-door wagon)

Capacity: 2.488 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 126 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 226 Nm @ 4400 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.1 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 188 g/km

DRIVELINE: Continuously variable transmission

Length: 4672 mm
Wheelbase: 2705 mm
Width: 1834 mm
Height: 1678 mm
Turning Circle: 11.4 metres
Kerb Mass: 1552 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Alistair Kennedy

Alistair Kennedy is Automotive News Service and Marque Publishing's business manager and the company's jack-of-all-trades. An accountant by profession, he designs the Marque range of motoring book titles, operates the company's motoring bookshop on the NSW Central Coast and the associated web site, as well as its huge digital and hard copy database. Whenever we can escape from the office he does so to cover new vehicle releases and contributes news stories. Alistair's other interests include cricket and family history on which he has written three books.
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