If you need plenty of space and want an affordable family-sized Crossover or SUV, your range of options is widening. Here's a contender you might want to have on your list, Renault Koleos, which features in the French maker's line-up just above the successful Captur and Kadjar Crossover models. In this improved guise, it offers a higher quality package.
Koleos buyers now choose between a couple of diesel engines; a 1.8-litre 150PS Blue dCi 150 unit with front wheel drive and a 2.0-litre 190PS Blue dCi 190 unit with 4WD. Both powerplants come mated to a seven-speed automatic X-Tronic gearbox. The auto is a CVT set-up that adjusts itself continuously whilst maintaining optimal engine speed and can also simulate gear shifts, producing more powerful acceleration.
The four-wheel-drive Koleos model comes equipped with ALL MODE 4x4-I technology borrowed from its X-Trail design stablemate. This enables you to select your driving mode - AUTO, LOCK or 2WD - and keep complete control of the powertrain on any terrain. For tarmac territory, there's also what's called 'Active Trace Control'. By using on board sensors to monitor speed, steering angle, throttle opening and braking effort, Active Trace Control brakes wheels individually, as required, to reduce understeer and help the driver steer a safer path through bends: it is particularly effective on slippery, wet roads.
Subtle styling changes to the front and rear of this improved Koleos give it a more assertive presence on the road, while the brand's distinctive Pure Vision LED headlamps are now standard across the range. There's a more prominent grille, smarter chrome trim and larger skid plates. Enhancements to the rear of the Koleos mirror those at the front, with a bigger skid plate, extra chrome trim and a bigger high-level brake light that complements the 3D effect Edge Light tail lamps. Finally, there are restyled two-tone alloy wheels.
Inside, the Koleos retains its class leading passenger space and refinement, while improved soft touch materials and revised satin trim inserts add further premium appeal. Rear seat passenger comfort is also improved, with the addition of a two-stage reclining seat back on all models.
For back seat folk, rear knee room remains amongst the best in its class at 289mm with rear passengers also benefitting from dual air vents, dual USBs (with two more in the front), a central armrest with cupholders and extra tinted rear windows. Though the Nissan X-Trail SUV this Koleos is based on can be ordered with 7-seats, this Renault is a five-seat-only model.
The spacious interior hasn't been designed at the expense of boot space. There's 458-litres of that with all seats in place and 1,690-litres with the rear seats down. Achieving maximum boot capacity is made easier thanks to the standard 'One-Touch' easy folding rear seats which can be folded (individually or all at once) via a button in the boot.
The Koleos represents the logical next step in Renault's gradual expansion of its Crossover SUV line-up. Now that the French brand is fully recognised as a producer of cars of this sort, this one should fare a lot better than its forgettable first generation namesake. Of course, the proven Nissan X-Trail design and underpinnings of this car will also help, though Renault has chosen to equip its contender to a level that positions it some way above the price of its Japanese cousin.
Still, if you wanted a lot of kit anyway and you like the way that this Koleos looks, you'll probably like most of the rest of what's on offer here. This is a plush, capable contender that'll save you plenty on a number of key rivals when you spec them up properly and firmly establishes Renault as a brand to be taken seriously in this segment.Click here to find out more about our Renault Koleos range
The Edge is Ford's best selling SUV in the USA, success it hasn't yet quite emulated in Europe. Perhaps the changes made to this revised version will help. The idea here is to add a top tier to the Blue Oval's Crossover and SUV line-up that'll keep customers within the Ford family who might otherwise desert to other brands. These people will like the fact that the Edge is good looking, well equipped and offered for the kind of money that normally, would only buy you a relatively compact car of this kind. Will all that be enough to enable Ford to steal sales from the premium brands? It'll be interesting to see.
The car is offered here with a choice of two of Ford's latest EcoBlue 2.0-litre diesel engines. There's an entry-level 150PS unit mated to front-wheel drive, but the one Ford wants to talk about is the 238PS Bi-turbo powerplant, which is combined with the brand's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system and a freshly-developed eight-speed quick shift automatic gearbox. This top unit has been enhanced with more low-end torque, while issues of noise, vibration and harshness have all been re-addressed. A small, high pressure turbo and a larger, low pressure turbo work in series at low rpm for greater responsiveness and enhanced torque. At higher engine speeds, the larger turbo works alone to produce the boost required to deliver peak power. The result is smooth and linear acceleration performance and, in theory, a more comfortable driving experience.
The Intelligent All-Wheel Drive set-up aims to provide a more secure footing for Edge drivers, especially in slippery conditions, by measuring how well the vehicle's wheels are gripping the road surface and delivering a seamless transition of torque between all four wheels. This revised Edge debuts an enhanced version of the technology, featuring new 'all-wheel drive disconnect', which uses a form of artificial intelligence to take readings from dozens of sensors around the car. It can determine if Intelligent All-Wheel Drive is needed in just 10 milliseconds.
The Edge model's exterior is sharply sculpted and athletic with strong 'shoulders' and a muscular, quite compact bonnet. Visual updates across the range include a wider grille with a unique finish for each model. Standard LED headlamps and tail lamps can be complemented with available LED signature daytime running lamps. A redesigned bonnet aims to impart a wider, more planted stance. To improve efficiency, unique air curtains are positioned on the lower part of the fascia to guide air from the front of the vehicle, out through the front wheel wells and down the vehicle side.
Inside, a redesigned centre console features a smarter rotary gear shift dial for the eight-speed automatic transmission that frees up space and allows easier access to the wireless charging pad. Other changes include the addition of a configurable digital instrument cluster with animated analogue-style instrumentation. This allows drivers to personalise the layout of the speedometer, rev-counter and vehicle information displays to suit their own preferences - and even adjust between one of seven colours. An electronic parking brake button in place of a conventional parking brake lever helps maximise space and houses adjustable cup holders and a deep storage box with enough space for books, toys and tablets. A larger swing-bin glovebox sits under the dashboard, and further stowage is available in the instrument panel top.
Having got used to the Edge following its first few years on sale in our market, what we've established is that this is more than just another attempt by Ford to sell a big US-made 4x4 over here. Think of this Edge as an S-MAX or Galaxy MPV re-designed for the rough and you'd probably be closer to the mark. But it's more than that too. On prolonged acquaintance, this car reveals itself as a very likeable, capable SUV that's more than up to challenging the best in its class.
Start to consider exactly what class that is and you get to this Ford's strongest selling point: the fact that it gives you the space - and most of the opulence - of a large Volkswagen Touareg-sized Luxury segment SUV, for the price of a smaller Volkswagen Tiguan-shaped mid-sized one. It's a pity that Ford couldn't have completed the proposition with a third row seating option but even so, the right kind of buyer may find this package difficult to resist.Click here to find out more about our Ford Edge range
Honda's fifth generation CR-V has evolved into something cleverer, classier and more efficient. Changes to the body structure and the optional 4WD system mean that handling's significantly more involving than it was before and the mainstream 1.5-litre VTEC TURBO petrol engine that features this time round is much more efficient. Hybrid technology also makes an appearance and customers can specify a seven-seat variant for the first time too.
To begin with the range is mainly based around a 1.5-litre, VTEC TURBO four-cylinder petrol unit available in two states of tune, with either 170 or 190bhp. Alternatively, you can talk to your dealer about an alternative petrol electric hybrid version. Most though, will want the standard 1.5 VTEC TURBO powerplant, which with 170hp comes in manual form with two or four-wheel drive. The more potent 190hp derivative comes only with a CVT auto transmission and 4WD. The 4x4 set-up - Honda calls it 'Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System' - is much improved, with an ability to send up to 60% of torque to the rear wheels when required, particularly during a hill climb. Through revisions to the calibration, the system also offers more dynamic cornering performance though feedback from the yaw rate and steering sensors. Honda also says that the electric power steering set-up has been re-tuned for extra feel.
The much more rigid body this time round helps enormously here. A solid rear stabiliser bar sharpens turn-in and reduces body roll, while a new floating, rubber-mounted sub-frame structure improves noise isolation over the previous CR-V. Honda's Agile Handling Assist set-up, as seen on the Civic hatch, is fitted to the CR-V for the first time. The electronic stability system has been specially tuned for Europe to reflect typical road surface conditions and driving styles. It responds to steering inputs with subtle, discreet assistance for added safety and smoother, more predictable vehicle behaviour including stable cornering and lane change at roundabouts, both at low and high speeds.
Smarter, more sophisticated looks mark out this fifth generation CR-V, but as usual what's important is what lies beneath the panel work. Thanks to a comprehensive, ground-up design and engineering programme, this fifth generation CR-V features the strongest and most sophisticated chassis in the nameplate's history. A low-inertia and highly rigid platform is enabled through new body construction that uses advanced lightweight and high-tensile materials. Inside, as usual, the cabin is ergonomically spot-on - though not everyone will like the faux-wood panelling used on plusher variants. Honda has tried to improve the centre-dash infotainment screen, but it's still not as effective as rival set-ups.
You're unlikely to complain about interior space though: second row passengers get lots of legroom and headroom is excellent, even if you specify the optional panoramic glass roof. The boot space is 561-litres with the second row in place, and 1756-litres with the rear seats folded flat - although if you choose that optional panoramic sunroof, you'll reduce this to 1638-litres. A key change this time round is the addition of a seven-seat variant, which offers a third seating row intended for small children. When it's erect, there's just 150-litres of luggage space behind, though that increases to 472-litres when you fold the bench into the floor. All of this is very similar to what you'd get from rival models in this segment.
It's easy to imagine yourself as target market for a car like this CR-V. You've a couple of kids, an active lifestyle, a need to haul things around and an aversion to rather dull large estate cars. This fifth generation model is likely to be an extremely easy thing to live with, the kind of car you'll own, then wonder how you managed without. That may not be a recipe for media headlines but it's an approach that other brands could certainly learn from, explaining why so many CR-Vs are bought by folk who previously owned one.
These are people who'll heartily approve of the changes that Honda has made to this MK5 model - the smarter looks, the improved engine efficiency, the classier feel and the seven-seat option for those needing it. All of these things ought to allow the CR-V to reach out beyond its traditional customer base. And probably will.Click here to find out more about our Honda CR-V range