Kadjar or Koleos: which Renault SUV is the one is for you?

The French ‘joie de vivre’ shines bright in the two SUVs currently available in the Renault model line-up, the small-medium sized Kadjar and the medium sized Koleos. Both feature appealing exterior design lines and display some funky interior elements as well. I recently drove the top of the line Intens variants for both models, so let’s discover a bit more about them.

The Kadjar is front-wheel drive and powered 1.3 litre, four cylinder petrol engine that produces 117kW and 260Nm of torque that is paired with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Its official combined fuel consumption is 6.3l/100km and for my week I averaged 8.4l/100km. The Koleos is available in front-wheel and all-wheel drive variants and I drove the AWD model that comes with a 2.5 litre, four cylinder petrol Engine that produces just 126kW of power and 226Nm of torque and is paired with a CVT automatic gearbox. The official combined fuel consumption of the Koleos is 8.1l/100km and for my week I averaged considerably more at 14l/100km.

I did not like the CVT transmission in the Koleos as the gear changes were not linear and the transmission seemed to lurch between the gears while it was trying to find the correct one and it laboured at higher speeds. Neither of the SUVs would be considered performance models though, as there was some understeer in hard cornering of the FWD Kadjar. However the ride quality in both SUVs was comfortable, but I did find the Kadjar cabin to be a bit noisier.

The Renaults come with key-card style key, which looks really good but I did find that it disappeared in my handbag easily. When you get in the SUVs they make a happy noise to greet you and this put a smile on my face every morning. I also liked the panoramic sunroof in both cars, it brightens the cabin and makes rear seat passengers feel less closed in. The sunroof on the Kadjar was fixed, but the Koleos sunroof opened.

Both have a leather covered steering wheel that has a nice shape and feel, but there are a couple of quirks with it. For instance you turn the standard cruise control on with a button on the centre console near the electric handbrake and then set/resume the speed using the controls on the steering wheel. Also the volume control for the stereo is not on the front of the steering wheel, but rather an additional stalk behind the steering wheel.

The Kadjar had a digital driver’s dash with four styles to choose from, while my Koleos had only a digital display at the centre of the driver’s dash. My Kadjar had the updated R-LINK 2 multimedia system, while the Koleos had the older R-LINK system. The difference I noticed between the two systems was the voice control in Kadjar worked better; the Koleos was okay for making phone calls, but it didn’t work for destination inputs. But newer Koleos models now do feature the full digital dash and the R-LINK 2 system, but be sure to confirm this with your Renault dealer.

By far my favourite feature of the Kadjar and Koleos was the bright ambient lighting that lit up cabins at night. The other good thing was the central touchscreen in the Renault didn’t show bad finger marks, something I wish other car companies would work on addressing also.  Both SUVs have Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and your media options include AM/FM radio, USB, AUX, Bluetooth and you can stream video via USB or have a slideshow of photos. My Kadjar also had a BOSE seven speaker sound system with digital amplifier.

The sat nav in the Kadjar was very keen to tell me I was entering a school zone, so much so I couldn’t even see a school when it told me most of the time. I discovered that rather than it telling me about a school for the road I was driving on, it appeared to be proximity related. So when I was driving on a road parallel to the one that had the school the Kadjar assistant still told me I was entering a school zone when I was not.

The cup holder set up differs slightly between the two Renaults with the Kadjar getting two cup holders with one slightly taller and narrower for your take away espresso coffee and the Koleos has four cup holders, two large and two small with one each being deeper and they are rigid, so may not work all that well for all cups. At the front of the centre console both have a storage ledge for phones with two USB ports, one 12V outlet and one AUX inlet. I did find the plastic on the lower part of the doors to be hard and where you store a drink bottle in the door cubby it was scratched quite easily.

Both SUVs feature leather seats, in the Kadjar they were firm and I found the Koleos seats to be more comfortable. The driver gets power seat adjustment in the Kadjar, but with no memory positions and the passenger seat only has manual adjustment, but both seats are heated. In the Koleos the front seats are heated and cooled with the driver getting additional lumbar support as well.

The rear seats in both the Kadjar and Koleos have enough leg room for adults and although head room was alright for me, taller people may find it a bit tight. You get two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but would only fit two car seats in due to their width. The centre seat folds down, but there is no easy pull tab, so children may find this difficult to do. In the Kadjar there is an arm rest with two shallow rigid cup holders while the Koleos drink holders are broad and so maybe not tight enough to stop drinks from falling over? Rear passengers have air vents behind the centre console with speed control only plus two USB ports and one 12V outlet.

The Kadjar boot has a manual open and close and I like the plastic below the boot opening on the bumper as it would help avoid scratches from you dog jumping up in the boot. The Kadjar boot also has a removable floor and this give you about 10cm extra height in the boot and you could line this area with a drop sheet to carry home your wet dog or dirty bike after a ride. Under the boot floor proper is a space saver spare tyre and you get four tie down points, two hooks, but no 12V outlet. The Koleos has a power open and close for boot with gesture control and a 12V outlet in addition to the features of the Kadjar apart from the removable boot floor. Both boots would be large enough for a stroller and the weekly shop and the rear seats have 60/40 split folding mechanism for additional storage flexibility.

Both SUVs come standard with a number of driver safety aids including advanced emergency braking, blind spot assist, auto high beam and auto wipers. The lane departure warning system in the Renaults features an annoying vibrating noise in the speakers when you leave your lane. They also come with a standard rear view camera with 360o sensors. Passive safety includes driver and passenger adaptive front airbags, lateral pelvis and chest-level airbags for driver and front passenger and front and rear curtain airbags. 2WD variants only of Renault Koleos models have a 5-star ANCAP safety rating (2017) and the Kadjar does not have an ANCAP safety rating, but it does have a 5-ster Euro NCAP rating (2015).

All new Renaults come with a 5 year unlimited kilometre warranty with a 12 month/30,000km service interval and up to 5 years roadside assistance if your Renault is serviced within the Renault network. But currently Renault are offering the Koleos with a 7 year unlimited kilometre warranty.

The Kadjar Intens starts at $37,990 and as tested with metallic paint my Kadjar was $38,740 plus on-roads. The Koleos Intens 4×4 I drove starts $45,490 plus on-road costs and as tested with the beautiful Millésime Red metallic paint mine was $46,370 plus on-roads. There are currently drive away offers available from Renault on both models and $1,000 cash back as well, visit the Renault website for more information.  

For me the Kadjar is the more joyous of these two SUVs to live with. There is not much difference in size and the Kadjar has an overall better package and a cheaper price tag. Visit your preferred Renault dealer to discover which one of these SUVs is for you.

ProsCons
Infotainment screen does not show finger marksThe CVT transmission in the Koleos
Funky ambient lightingPoor fuel efficiency in the Koleos
Comfortable ride quality in both SUVsNeither are sporty SUVs

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.