Renault was slow to launch its first midsize SUV, but the Kadjar was worth the wait. It was our Crossover of the Year at launch and this was backed up by impressive Driver Power scores. When we drove a Kadjar dCi for 10 months and 22,000 miles, we quickly became enthused about its 52-mpg economy, refinement, comfort and roomy cabin, but with the new Renault Austral on sale next year, the shine has worn off a bit. That’s only natural now that the Kadjar is seven years old, but running costs should still be low and comfort levels high. Just be sure to check that everything works before you buy, especially all the electronics.
Renault’s first foray into SUV production did not end well. Its 2008 Koleos failed to interest buyers, but when its supermini-sized Captur was launched in 2013, it became the French firm’s most popular model.
With this new impetus, Renault introduced the Kadjar a couple of years later, a size up from the Captur and another car that hit the nail on the head with its attractive design, spacious cabin and low running costs. It helped that the Kadjar was based on a car that had already proven to be a huge success, the Nissan Qashqai, but we felt that the Renault was actually better than the Japanese car. Seven years after its release, there is still a lot to like about the Kadjar.
The Kadjar arrived in September 2015, with 128hp 1.2 TCe petrol engines and 109hp 1.5 dCi or 128hp 1.6 dCi diesel engines, with the latter option (the 130 dCi) offered in either front or rear wheel drive forms. on all four wheels. In September 2017, a 163 hp turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine (the TCe 165) joined the range.
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Then, in February 2019, a facelifted Kadjar hit showrooms, with refreshed styling and new petrol engines, as well as upgraded diesel units. The range then consisted of the 138 bhp TCe 140 and 158 bhp TCe 160 1.3-litre petrol engines, along with the 114 bhp 1.5-litre Blue dCi 115 and 148 bhp Blue dCi 150 diesel engines. 1.7 liter hp. Again, the latter came with the option of front or four-wheel drive.
From February 2022 the Kadjar range was reduced to just the TCe 140 engine and two trim levels: Equilibre and Techno.
Which one should you buy?
We wouldn’t take it away from any of the engines; none offer spectacular performance, but all are frugal enough. However, if you want an automatic transmission, the EDC dual-clutch gearbox is much more pleasant to use than the X-Tronic CVT.
The entry-level Expression+ trim is pretty spartan but has cruise control, power windows, air conditioning, hill start assist, and Bluetooth. Dynamique Nav adds 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights and wipers, seven-inch touchscreen infotainment, and additional driver aids.
Dynamique S Nav gets front and rear parking sensors, 19-inch wheels, leatherette upholstery, and power outside mirrors, while Signature Nav adds LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, and an upgraded hi-fi system. The top-of-the-line Signature S Nav features a rear parking camera, leather upholstery and blind spot warning.
Alternatives to the Renault Kadjar
Midsize crossovers are very popular, so there’s plenty to choose from. The Nissan Qashqai shares much with the Kadjar and is plentiful, while the Hyundai Tucson and its cousin the Kia Sportage are well equipped, good value for money and come with extended warranties.
Also related to each other are the SEAT Ateca, Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen Tiguan; they’re solidly built, easy to live with and come with some impressive engines, while the Mazda CX-5 is great to drive, stylish and has an impressive cabin.
The Ford Kuga is dynamically capable and well equipped, while the Peugeot 3008 is another great looking car with an impressive interior. The Toyota RAV4 is also worth considering for its reliability, bold design, and efficient hybrid powertrain.
what to look for
Alarm sounds if battery is losing charge; the car needs to be driven or the battery replaced. Faulty tilt sensors also cause this.
The 1.2 TCe can use oil so you should check it regularly, every 1,000-2,000 miles. Some owners have had to have replacement motors.
All Kadjars come with a tire repair kit. You can buy a space-saving spare wheel for £150, but it won’t fit if the optional Bose stereo is specified.
The button cell battery of the key card does not usually last more than two years. Do not forget to change the spare key card at the same time.
Some Kadjar owners have complained of electronic failure. Many of these relate to the infotainment system, which can suffer from Bluetooth and sat nav issues. Check that they are working in any used examples you look at.
Overall fit and finish is very good, but until the 2019 facelift some of the switch placement was a bit messy; Later cars are much better in this regard.
What’s always been nice is the amount of space in the cabin, with plenty of room for three adults unless they’re taller than average. Boot space is pretty good too, at 472 liters with the seats up, putting the Kadjar pretty much in the middle of the class.
The 2019 facelift for Kadjar brought a better integrated infotainment system, but removed the main physical volume controls. However, the steering wheel buttons remained in place.
All Kadjars need maintenance every 12 months or 18,000 miles. There are two levels of service: A and B, normally priced at £120 (may vary between dealers) and £195. While the former consists of just a new pollen filter and various overhauls, the latter adds an oil and filter change. High mileage drivers are encouraged to combine the two services for around £250.
Only the 1.5 dCi engine has a timing belt, which needs to be changed every five years or 60,000 miles for around £400. Coolant needs to be replaced every five years or 90,000 miles (at £89), brake fluid after three years , then every 24 months (at £65), and the air conditioning needs to be checked every two years at a cost of £150.
All Kadjars came with a four-year/100,000-mile warranty, with no mileage limits for the first two years.
Renault has recalled the Kadjar six times so far, the first in January 2016 due to the possibility of the brake booster failing, but not the brakes completely.
Two campaigns were issued in April 2016, one due to the side airbags not deploying properly in a collision and the other due to the potential for seat belt malfunction during a collision.
Release number four was issued in September 2017, once again due to side airbag failures. Faulty catalytic converters were the reason behind the fifth recall in July 2020. However, only two cars were affected as they were manufactured in October 2019.
The most recent Kadjar recall was issued in August 2020 and affected more than 45,000 cars built through July 2018, to repair faulty child door locks.
Driver Power Owner Satisfaction
When the Kadjar made its Driver Power debut in the 2016 New Car Poll, it went straight in at number three (out of 100). Her last appearance was in the 2020 survey, where she was ranked 65th out of 75 models. It finished 55th in 2019, when it also achieved 59th place in our used car survey (of 100 cars). Low running costs and cabin space/convenience are highlights, but owners are less impressed with the overall driving experience and quality.
Head over to our sister site Buyacar for a great deal on a used Renault Kadjar…