Driven: 2019 Renault Koleos Life Is A Good Family SUV But Not Great

The SUV and crossover market is booming worldwide and consumers now have more choice than ever before in selecting their perfect ride. The Renault Koleos Life is a valiant effort from the French car manufacturer to appeal to budget buyers.

Renault first introduced the Koleos back in 2007 and built it for a decade in first-generation guise. It was never a particularly desirable vehicle but thankfully, was replaced by an all-new version with a much more premium look and feel a few years ago.

Underpinning the current Koleos is the Common Module Family architecture co-developed by Renault and Nissan. The adoption of this platform saw the Koleos grow and according to the French automaker, it is now 4,672 mm (183.9-inches long) with a width of 1,843 mm (72.6-inches), and a height of 1,678 mm (66.1-inches). Most importantly, the wheelbase sits at 2,705 mm (106.5-inches), 15 mm longer than its predecessor.

Long curious about how the high-end looks of the Koleos would translate to the road, we got in contact with Renault Australia and had the opportunity to test out the SUV for a week. Our tester was the entry-level Koleos Life model. It has an RRP of $30,990 AUD (equal to US$21,660) but our test car had some extra trimmings bringing that figure up to $37,161 (US$25,973).

Simple and stylish

Swinging open the door to the vehicle reveals an interior is best described as ‘minimalist’. Even in the base model which we tested, the interior is largely free of superfluous buttons and switches. Most of the car’s functions can be operated through the 7-seven touchscreen display neatly incorporated into the dashboard. So many cars nowadays have infotainment screens jutting out of dashboards and looking like an afterthought, so props to Renault for designing a more elegant solution. A larger 8.7-inch portrait display is available for higher-end models, including the mid-range Koleos Intens.

Alongside the handful of buttons you find below the touchscreen, the Koleos Life also features a Cruise Control and Speed Limiter switch on the center console, directly behind the shift lever. It’s a slightly odd location and we’d like to see it moved onto the steering wheel. Another oddity in this area of the cabin is the location of the lettering which displays whether you’re in Park, Reverse, Neutral, or Drive. You would think that these letters would be visible to the driver but instead, they are on the left of the lever and completely hidden from view. This is fine for left-hand drive markets but in right-hand drive markets, is a tad annoying and a bit of an oversight on Renault’s part.

One final critique of the cabin centers around the foot-operated park brake – like on older Mercs. It’s old fashioned and should be ditched for an electronic one or, at the very least, a traditional hand-operated brake.

Other than that, everything else is quite pleasant. There is a sporty steering wheel which is perfectly-sized and has a nice thickness to it. The inclusion of a 7-inch central digital gauge cluster on the Koleos Life model is also welcome. The 3D Arkamys Sound system of our tester with 8-speakers was adequate and the Bluetooth system was very quick to connect.

Also Read: 2020 Renault Koleos Goes Under The Knife, Adds New Look, Engines And Tech

All-important boot space sits at 458 liters or 16 cubic feet – for the record, under European standards that use different measuring methods, it’s listed by Renault at 579 liters) with the rear bench seat up and increases to 1,690 liters (59.6 cubic-feet) with them folded flat. The added length of the new Koleos pays dividends for rear-seat passengers with a generous amount of leg and headroom. There are also air vents at the rear and a 12-volt socket. Fold down the armrest and there are a pair of cupholders.

Smooth but sluggish

Powering the Renault Koleos Life is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder petrol engine with 126 kW (168 hp) and 226 Nm (162 lb-ft) of torque. That torque figure isn’t particularly impressive for a vehicle of this size and results in sluggish performance off the line. Thankfully, the engine is quiet and paired with a CVT which is exceptionally smooth. In fact, the first thing I noticed about the Koleos when driving it was how nice the CVT is. Under hard acceleration, the revs do sometimes jump up and down as the transmission works out what’s going on but CVTs are all about comfort and that’s exactly what this one provides.

I was also impressed with the brake feel. It is extremely consistent at all speeds and the pedal depresses smoothly and consistently. The SUV doesn’t offer much in the way of steering feel, while it’s also too light. But for the vast majority of buyers, we suspect that’s actually a good thing.

Fuel consumption sits at 8.1-liters per 100 km (20 U.S. mpg) but in our testing, we recorded a touch over 9.0-liters per 100 km.

Could do with some extra goodies

In terms of standard features, the vehicle is a mixed bag. There is a nice rearview camera as standard but it is lacking satellite navigation, rear parking sensors, and front parking sensors. The Lane departure warning system works well but for the price of our tester, it would have been nice to see a Lane Keeping Assist suite to make highway driving that much more relaxing. A blind-spot monitoring system isn’t present but on the plus side, there are rain-sensing wipers. Keyless entry is something missing which we’d like to see added down the road.

Local buyers looking to pick up a Koleos Life will be pleased to learn that it comes with a five-year, unlimited-kilometer warranty as standard with 12-month service intervals. The first three services are capped at $349 each and up to four years of roadside assist is provided and a nice inclusion to the ownership experience.

Save up and pay the extra for a more premium version

During our week with the Renault, we walked away impressed with how much car you can get for your money nowadays. The Koleos is easily large enough for families with up to three kids and would be pretty good on long journeys thanks to its comfortable ride, spacious rear bench, and reasonable luggage space.

Sure, it is missing some features but for the money, what do you expect? Those looking for some added convenience and safety features should look further up in the range at the Zen, Intens 4×2, Intens 4×4, and Intens Diesel models with prices ranging from $35,490 ($24,782) through to $48,990 ($34,209).

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Images / Brad Anderson

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