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  • Price of 2WD petrol models; extensive standard features; refined diesel engine; versatile cabin
  • High diesel price; 2WD petrol steering feel and ride; some cabin design flaws; rear-seat legroom

7 / 10

Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review

The Renault Koleos is the French brand’s second most popular vehicle in Australia after the Megane small car, but its only SUV continues to be a petite speck on the sales charts since its initial release in 2008.

Renault executives certainly had higher expectations.

Renault Koleos sales have increased marginally this year – currently averaging 50 per month – on the back of a mid-life facelift in November 2011, but in terms of sales it is humbled by the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 and the Subaru Forester, as well as the its structural twin, the Nissan X-Trail.

Affordability is certainly not holding the Renault SUV back. With a starting price of $28,490 before on-road costs for the front-wheel-drive, petrol-powered six-speed manual Renault Koleos Expression, only the (also-related) Nissan Dualis and the Skoda Yeti better it in this group.

The standard equipment level is impressive, too. The base model Koleos Expression comes with 17-inch alloy wheels and a full-size alloy spare, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity with music streaming. Asking for the continuously variable transmission (CVT) rather than the manual adds $2000 to the price.

From there you step up to the mid-spec Dynamique trim level, which Renault Australia expects to be the volume seller. There are three distinct variants: the 2WD petrol CVT ($34,490), the 4WD petrol CVT ($37,990) and the 4WD diesel with a six-speed automatic gearbox ($40,990). Unfortunately, you’re forced to pay a high price for the cheapest all-wheel-drive model, and the only diesel in the range is a few thousand dollars more than its direct rivals.

Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review

Fortunately, however, the equipment level is again strong enough to thrust the Koleos Dynamique into contention. Over the Expression, it adds auto headlights and wipers, rear parking sensors, push-button start, upgraded audio and sat-nav systems, leather upholstery, electric driver’s seat, rear-seat sunblinds and picnic tables, and the ‘Easy Estate’ flat floor seat-folding system.

Topping the range is the Koleos Privilege, which comes only in 4WD petrol CVT form. It’s $6500 more than the equivalent Dynamique, and for the price you get 18-inch alloys, bi-xenon headlights, front parking sensors, hands-free entry, heated front seats, Bose audio system and a panoramic sunroof.

Metallic paint will set you back $800 across the range.

Every model is fitted with six airbags and electronic stability control, earning it the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating. The Koleos is also covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and is supported by five years of 24-hour roadside assistance – an aftersales service combination unbeaten by its competitors.

Petrol models are powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 126kW of power (at 6000rpm) and 226Nm of torque (at 4400rpm).

The engine feels particularly perky at take-off and enthusiastic around the city, although it takes more encouragement once you hit the highway and ask it to overtake other cars.

Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review

CVT-equipped models emit a soft drone under acceleration that is less intrusive than some similar transmissions, although it still doesn’t facilitate the low-down punch or provide the aural satisfaction of a conventional automatic.

That’s where the diesel model comes in. The 2.0-litre engine generates 110kW (at 4000rpm) and 320Nm (at 2000rpm). The refined diesel engine is loud under acceleration, but not gruff or rattly. You’d call it capable rather than quick, and it feels more competent than the petrol on the open road. The auto gearbox tends to hang onto the gears longer than necessary, but the Koleos diesel is otherwise a quiet cruiser.

Neither powertrain is an economy leader – for those, you should look at the VW Tiguan and Yeti – but they’re not embarrassed by the competition, either. The diesel uses 7.6 litres per 100km on the combined cycle while the petrol uses 9.3-9.6L/100km depending on the variant.

The steering in the 2WD petrol is very light and lacks feel, especially at dead centre. The weighting improves around corners but at times you get an inconsistent feel at turn-in (sometimes light, sometimes heavy) that can sap your confidence. The combination of body roll around corners and a high driving position makes the Koleos feel taller than it is, giving you the impression of sitting on it rather than in it.

Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review

The diesel’s dynamics are significantly better. At 1789kg, the 4WD diesel weighs 232kg more than the 2WD petrol, and consequently feels more stable with heavier and more predictable steering. Both cars handle smooth and coarse surfaces well but bounce and shimmy over bigger bumps in the road – although the diesel sits a little flatter.

Equipped with the proven 4×4 system from the X-Trail, the Koleos is more than capable of simple off-roading, and is unfazed by loose surfaces and hills of bushland fire trails. Depending on the conditions, you can lock into 4×4 mode and take advantage of the Hill Descent Control crawl function or simply leave it in Auto. Hill-start assist also operates automatically to prevent slip on steeper slopes.

The Koleos’s comparatively large turning circle means it feels less than nimble in tight spots, although the light low-speed steering makes it easy to park.

Visibility front and rear is very good, although the lack of a reverse-view camera is disappointing in an SUV with a high rear window. The seats are flat but comfortable and there’s plenty of driver’s seat and steering wheel adjustment to help you find your sweet spot.

The broad, flowing dashboard creates an uplifting sense of spaciousness within the cabin, while the major controls are grouped neatly at the base of the centre stack. An abundance of soft-touch plastics and smooth switchgear gives the interior a high-quality feel. The integrated TomTom satellite navigation system is intuitive and among the best factory-fitted units on the market.

Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review
Renault Koleos Review

Among the few ergonomic failings is the silver plastic around the sat-nav that reflects onto the windscreen; the speedometer, which would benefit from a digital readout or clearer markings for the 50/70/90/110 points; and the small B-pillar-mounted rear-seat air vents, which do little more than blow out a trickle of air.

Rear-seat legroom is shorter than ideal for adults, but if kids sit there they are likely to enjoy the integrated sunblinds and tray tables found in Dynamique and Privilege trims.

Accessed via the handy twin ‘clam shell’ hatch, the boot expands from 450 litres to 1380 litres with the rear seats folded flat, putting it on par with cars like the Dualis and the Yeti. The cabin is also full of large stowage bins, cup holders and pockets to keep knick-knacks out of sight.

So, little in the way of French flair for the Renault Koleos in the way it looks or drives, but the cabin looks smart, is reasonably practical, and in 2WD petrol form this SUV is certainly good value.

Renault Koleos manufacturer’s list price (excluding government and dealer charges):

  • Expression petrol 4×2 six-speed manual – $28,490
  • Expression petrol 4×2 CVT – $30,490
  • Dynamique petrol 4×2 CVT – $34,490
  • Dynamique petrol 4×4 CVT – $37,990
  • Dynamique diesel 4×4 six-speed automatic – $40,990
  • Privilege petrol 4×4 CVT – $44,490

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Renault Koleos Review
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  • PJS

    I drove one of these last week. They have plenty of standard kit (although the sat nav is terribly clunky) and are quite comfortable, but the petrol engine is gutless and the CVT annoying as hell. I def couldn’t live with it.

  • Simonsez

    The petrol engine is actually perfectly fine for normal usage.It’s certainly streets ahead of the low torque 2 litre alternatives dished up by many of its competitors in the 2wd,petrol s.u.v. marketplace.I’m not a great fan of the cvt transmission either, but the testers seemed to find it quite ok in this instance.I’ve had a Koleos for 2 years and it has performed faultlessly.

  • KoleosOwner

    I heard the Koleos is stiffer in the suspension than the x-trail so it has better manners on the highway, we have a manual diesel and it’s a great car, it just comes down to peoples bias that the koleos is overlooked. It’s a very capable and well equipped car for the price, you get some french flair with great korean build quality and good japanese trusted 4wd with a great Renault diesel… We have had our Koleos for 2 years with no hassles what so ever. My father in law now has one a petrol cvt and my mother just bought one diesel 6speed auto, sold her jeep. If renault gets people to drive them then I reckon they would sell far more… a wider spread of well placed dealers would help that also…  great car, just give them a go and you will be surprised

    • John Melsam

      Feels very sturdy on the road but not hard. Sits very much like a low sedan, no body roll but still fells like driving SUV.

  • tonyW

    Still believe that Renault would do better with the Koleos if they had the diesel in the top spec Privilege. Real big positive in my mind is that its one of the few European SUVs (regardless of size) that has a full size spare.

    • bruzzer

       its not european, its korean.
      i think they call it it Samsung something in Korea…

      • Darryl

        They’d just about be better off selling the Korean Renaults as Samsungs here. It isn’t like the name is unknown, or have a bad reputation to shake off. They could throw in a phone and/or TV with each one too.

  • Able

    Renault would do far better if they got rid of the petrol engine. That diesel is great and if they brought back the manual, powerful and very torquey. The current lineup does not make sense to me. A cheap 2WD petrol variant sure, but make the top-spec model petrol 4WD only? Not the best idea IMO. Not that I’d ever buy a Koleos but I do respect it a lot; it’s immensely practical and a very thoughtout interior is it’s USP.

  • Real Renaults

    I’ve had a Koleos for three years now, and it is basically a very good car. Basically being the operative word. I love european cars for their flair and richly textured interiors, and it is here where the Koleos’s nemesis lies.  The interiors aren’t  bad, but you can’t get away from the fact it smacks of Korean materials and design.  I have tried hard to convince myself otherwise,  but the plastics are pure Korean, as are the fake silver metallic finishes.  Those hard plastics which are just about everywhere scratch and mark very easily.  After the initial showroom gloss wears off,  the excitement ends there.  I went to look at the latest offerings from Volkswagen, Peugeot, and Citroen today and its clear as daylight. The design and quality of materials along with the beautiful soft colour palettes in all those cars, which I might add are DESIGNED and BUILT in Europe,  reflected an ambience of luxury which is quite simply missing from the Renault.  After returning to the Renault, it appeared very bland by comparison, with its drab looking greys which have been so overdone and generic.   I hate to say it, because I own one, but at the end of the day, the Renault comes across as a Korean car with a French badge on it.  Go have a look at VW, Peugeot and Citroen to see what I mean.  As much as I like Renaults (this is my third after two scenics), I can’t ignore the fact they are not selling well.  I was actually surprised to see one of the new Koleos the other day in Sydney!!  Its only the second one I’ve seen five months after its release!!  Dealers are disappearing faster than people are test driving them.  The ones left have been reduced to a corner of the back lot in some partnered  dealerships with just two or three cars on show.  And don’t believe the figures of 50 a month. They are just dealers registering demo’s to get the sales figures up.  Its sad to say,  but Until Renault understand the buying public are not fooled by faux european cars, they will have no hope of selling anywhere near the numbers they wish for.  Bring back real French Renaults with real  European design and quality and watch them go!    

    • Bagget

      The Koleos is a budget exercise. I used to own a lot of French cars back in the day but they lost they’re mojo. 

      The most interesting thing Renault have made lately is the Zoe EV. At least it holds true to their own mantra of daring to be different.If you want a bit of the old school french vibe check out Skoda. 

      • John Melsam

        Koleos might be budget exercise but Kia, Hyundai, Holden, Skoda etc at similar price don’t come even near it once you drive it.

    • Can’t complain

      I too own a Koleos and couldn’t disagree more. You get what you pay for and my wife and I were very comfortable with the level of equipment, trim and finish of the car. We also looked at the other and understand that the Koleos isn’t made in Europe. So what! Neither is the Peugeot, wasn’t even aware of a Citroen SUV and the Tiguan & it’s components seems to be produced everywhere from Germany to China and Vietnam. Besides the parents in law have the VW and it hasn’t been hassle free. Regardless most appliances and clothing we buy nowadays comes from various markets over the world and I doubt this has an impact on quality, if the company manages it. We’re really happy with the power of the motor, the smoothness of the CVT (that’s only noisy when you drive the car hard) and the general drivability.
      Lastly we don’t have trouble finding a dealer and they’ve looked after us really well.
      Can’t complain really about the Renault. Don’t get me started on the last car from another brand.

      • Real Renaults

        No question about the way the cars are assembled or the service from Renault. They are assembled very well indeed, and stay that way. Renault Australia look after their customers. Up to that point its all great. But park a Koleos, or Latitude, or Megane hatch alongside any  Volkswagen, any new Citroen, or any new Peugeot, (which have cars in similar price brackets),  then  sit inside each one and  tell me there isn’t a real difference in the textures of materials and overall feel of style and quality??!!??  Not even worth wasting keystrokes on.  Latitude and  Megane interiors  particularly are very dark and drab places.  As for the analogy with appliances,  they are a different beast…they perform a basic function  and nothing more. As long as they look new and  keep going thats all we expect. But a car is a different story.  Its the sum of many more parts than any appliance,  You sit and spend time in it.  We expect it to be reliable, but also to reflect a certain feel good factor.    It all comes down to what  you’re looking for,,,,if you’re thing is to have the equivalent of an appliance for transport,  that is fair value,  looks reasonable but doesn’t  excel at anything,  then fair enough.  But if you want something thats stylish with tactile finishes, and feels special each and every time you use it, then thats another story.  The Koreans do one well.  The Euros do the other .  But lets not try and pretend  they are equivalent.  Good yes…but equivalent..NO. There is simply no comparison.  Do you ask for Pizza when dining out at an Asian restaurant??    I rest my case

  • Joe

    You have to love journalists……..if it has French “flair” it’s too quirky and you shouldn’t buy it, if it does not have French “flair” it’s not “quirky” enough, it’s lost it’s mojo and you shouldn’t buy it………….

    Which ever way you cut it, Renault can’t win in Australia.

    • Real Renaults

      Your point is a valid one Joe, and to a certain extent I agree with you. But the issue with Renault today goes beyond any notion of the benefits or otherwise of flair and quirkiness.  It is an issue of design execution.  That is, how the original concept is brought together in the form of a finished product that the buying public is attracted to.  A case in point is the Golf. Its fairly conservative from a design and style viewpoint, but  the way it is brought together, in terms of the quality of its materials and attention to detail finishes reflect the makers objectives of  creating a quality vehicle with a REAL luxury feel at the price.  I’m sorry but the Koleos, and all the current Renaults for that matter made in Korea and Turkey just don’t cut it.  It is obvious to me Renault dreams up a model. hands it over to the host country and says “build it” .  What you get are that countries version of materials.  And lets face it, thats the first thing you see when visiting a showroom.  Korean plastics,  Korean Leather.  Todays Renaults are not  kits sent from France to Korea for assembly.  Peugeot and Citroen are also quirky and have flair, but they get customers through the doors, and cars off the floor. This is the difference!  

      • nickdl

        How about the RS250 Megane? That surely deserves a mention of being interesting. I’ve seen a lot of them around, more than the normal Megane actually! The issue is that in Europe, Renault and the other French brands are held in the same stead as Ford and GM, and the Japanese brands. Over here, it simply isn’t justifiable to pay a few grand more for what is essentially the same level of quality. 

        As for quality and reliability, Renault have a bad reputation to shake, which could take decades. We had a Renault 19 in our family and it was an absolute lemon. Okay all manufacturers make lemons from time to time but this was made worse by the fact that few mechanics in Melbourne had the tools or the knowledge to fix a Renault, and parts would take weeks to be shipped out from France. It was a decent car otherwise but just too much of a hassle, and after selling it we had a Subaru for 10 years without a single fault.

        The cars Renault currently sells are fundamentally decent (and great value), and I’m sure very reliable, however they don’t fit in with the brand. A dressed up Nissan Maxima or Dualis built in Korea hardly seems French, and I think they need to be more different to fit in with the mantra. 

        • Real Renaults

          Spot on Nickdl!  You’re absolutely right…..the Megane RS 250 is a worthy exception….I’ve seen and sat in it, and its brilliant.  When it comes to reliablity my experience over the past 10 years is that renault have finally got this sorted.  They are all very well built now, with a solid feel, no rattles, and very few problems, if any. If anyone has any lingering doubt about reliablity, rest assured Renault takes this very seriously,  and their customer followups after any services are swift and reassuring. I can say unequivocally I’m totally satisfied with Renault backup and reliablity.  You’re last paragraph sums up my dilemma with Renault perfectly!!   If only they had a bit more “sparkle” and polish, they would once again be worthy of being called GREAT

  • Smart US

    the issues is – stay away from french cars… the other issue is what is a french car… its all badge engineering… i just read Long-term test of Santa fee… and with stronger engine and smaller price why would i bother with french car??? tell me why ta ta ta ta

    • Tell him he’s joking

      When or why would I bother with a Korean car such as the Santa Fe?  If and only if times get tough and I can no longer afford a German car!

  • Henry Toussaint

    I love the Koleos. It’s in my Favorite 5 Small SUV’s including IX35, Sportage, Korando, Koleos, and Grand Vitara

    • Stevo

      I agree!  Why buy true Japanese-European build quality and high future resale in the form of the Tiguan/Yeti, Mazda CX5, Kuga, Forester, RAV4 when you can have one of these Korean classics (GV excepted)?

      • Real Renaults

        I don’t think you’ll be seeing “Korean classics”  at the Renault car club meets in 10 – 15 years time!!….lol.  Thats the whole point. They’re not cars to raise passions, just ordinary appliances.  If thats your go, then Renault will love to hear from you! 

  • OGU

    Amazing. Holden produce half their cars in Korea and you won’t read anyone calling it a Korean car company. BMW build a 3 series in Sth Africa and nobody calls it Sth African. Honda produce cars in Thailand… Is it a Thai company? VW have plants all over the globe. So Renault build in France, Spain, Morocco, Turkey & Korea. So many expert opinions.

    • JamesB

      Holden are only saying they’re Australian so that people will buy them, and that seems to work.

    • nickdl

      You’ll read plenty of people calling a Captiva or Barina Korean. Except the difference is their cars are developed all over the world, including Australia, and then produced in Korea.  The BMW 3 Series was designed and engineered in Germany so of course it isn’t German, likewise with the Thai-produced Hondas, Fords, Nissans etc.

      However Renault of France did little, if anything, in the development of the Koleos and the Latitude. Both are Korean designed and built relatives of the Nissan Maxima and X-Trail, and badged as a Samsung in their home country. Big difference.

      • Real Renaults

        Yes that sums it up in a nutshell.  And to add insult to injury, we are being asked to pay more for this Korean car  than other comparable Korean cars like Kia Sportage.  Still… if nothing else at least its better than that half baked latitude.  Still haven’t seen one on the road. Renault should move on from their obsession with Korean design…its not working.     

      • TheRealThomas

        Let’s actually get this straight, Renault did not develop the Koleos in France. No, they had their engineers in Australia doing pre production testing prior to launching it even in Korea. Rest assured the Koleos is a Renault Vehicle and designed with the minds of Renault behind it.

  • 42 = The Answer

    The diesel needs to be made available at a lower price point, preferably with the 6-speed manual transmission :)

  • Knknu

    The petrol creates 126Kw and diesel only 110Kw

    Petrol is better, I’ve driven some diesel powered cars and anything less then 3.0L diesel is too sluggish..

    The 3.0L A4 TDI is good..

    • Turbo99

      Diesel is better than petrol coz the car is similar to a tractor and pulls like a tractor :)

  • Jhfysh

    I’ve had a 2WD CVT Koleos for six months. Superlative. Amazingly responsive engine for 4 cyl 2.5 litres. Leaves a 3 litre V6 Camry for dead. It doesn’t take my hat off as I climb aboard and meets my wife’s requirement for a refrigerated glove-box. Cruises like a dream on the motorways and easy on the fuel. A little sensitive  on the steering so pay attention! Not much rear legroom. Looks very distinctive. Don’t forsee any mechanical problems. Dealer service outstanding.     JHF

  • John

    Renault has had a fantastic 2012 in Oz with an increased and fantastic dealer network and above all, great cars at the right price. I was a sceptic until I actually drove one – was impressed.  

  • Benno

    Struth! Mr Real Renaults, somehow I get the impression you do not like the Koleos?
    You certainly put in a lot of hard work and wordage to convince us of the fact.
    I have good news for you: there is plenty of other choice out there. Go for it.

  • GeorgeOfPatonga

    Reading the comments below with interest. Some posters allude to the test of time – a good one, but coloured still by perceptions. Look at the P76! But here’s another test for a 4WD – take it around Australia for an extended period, on and off road, corrugations, sand, fast dirt, the odd rock scramble, then back on the blacktop.
    Try that with any vehicle and see how the3 ride feels. Koleos? – superb on the rough roads, so much better than the farm implement that passes for ‘the standard 4WD’ (Landcruiser).
    See what fuel economy you can get. Koleos diesel manual: 7.7l/100km with full camping gear, 100 litres water, fridge, 100AH aux battery, etc etc.
    The other compact 4WDs can do similar things, but because of the Koleos’ Nissan suspension heritage, it is so much more capable on rough surfaces than most. This is a point utterly lost on most of the motoring journos.

  • Felix Menezes

    I own a Koleos for the past 2years, but i’m really not happy with the buy. Its giving me end number of problems. Guess they do not have proper Quality Check in place

Renault Koleos Specs

Car Details
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$15,950 - $18,130
Dealer Retail
$17,210 - $20,460
Dealer Trade
$12,500 - $14,500
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
226Nm @  4400rpm
Max. Power
126kW @  6000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
9.3L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:2000  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
225/60 R17
Rear Tyres
225/60 R17
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Coil Spring, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Control & Handling
Traction Control System
Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer
Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Optional Features
Power Sunroof
Control & Handling
18 Inch Alloy Wheels
Metallic Paint
Service Interval
12 months /  10,000 kms
60 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Inner Guard
Country of Origin