Vehicle Style: Small commercial van.
Price: $27,990 (before on-roads)
Engine/trans: 81kW/240Nm 1.5 turbo diesel 4cyl | 6sp manual
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.7 l/100km | tested: 6.4 l/100km
Dual-cab utes are big business these days, and for a lot of good reasons.
You can put their rugged load-carrying capability to work during the week, and, come weekends, with space for five, they can also double-up as a family-carrier.
But what if your work situation or personal preference dictates you buy a van? Can you 'have it all' like the dual-cab crowd, or is a five-seater van too compromised by having to sacrifice load area for passenger space?
Enter the Renault Kangoo Maxi Crew, one of only two small vans on the market with a five-seat capacity.
- Standard features: Single-zone climate control, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, dual glazed sliding doors, rear barn doors, trip computer, remote audio controls behind steering wheel.
- Infotainment: AM/FM/CD audio system with remote audio controls behind steering wheel, USB audio input, Bluetooth phone/audio streaming.
- 1.3 cubic metres load capacity with rear seats up.
- Cargo area with seats up: 1008mm long, 1218mm wide (between arches), 1251mm high.
- Eight tie-down points in cargo area.
The Maxi Crew’s biggest selling point is its ability to fit five people plus cargo, while still having the cargo capacity of a regular Kangoo Maxi with the rear seats folded down.
With the rear seats folded flat, there’s still not quite enough length to accept a standard Australian pallet (1165mm x 1165mm).
Width between the wheelarches is plenty at 1218mm, but it’s the 1008mm depth of the load floor that’s the issue.
Folding the seats expands the cargo space greatly, but the lip formed by the seatback makes it less than ideal for neatly stacking boxes.
The regular two-seat Kangoo Maxi, by comparison, has an 1862mm long, uninterrupted load floor.
So it’s perhaps not quite as good for carrying big loads as its two-seat brother, but the Kangoo Maxi Crew’s ability to take a bunch of your co-workers (or your brood on weekends) no doubt gives it greater versatility.
The rear seats are relatively comfortable, and easily accessed via the dual sliding doors (each of which has opening windows). Compared to the second row of a dual-cab ute, it’s certainly a lot more spacious.
The fabric upholstery isn’t as nasty as some other vans we’ve sampled - it actually looks quite nice - and the vinyl floor is rugged and easy to clean.
The driver’s seat is also adjustable for height and lumbar.
The front seats give a decent view of what’s ahead, but the thick A-pillars greatly compromise vision around sweeping corners.
Over-the-shoulder vision isn’t bad though, thanks to the big mirrors and glazed sliding doors.
There’s only one cupholder (two if you count the shallow and difficult-to-access one that holds the ashtray), and there’s not much covered storage for valuables like GPS units.
A large open bin is moulded into the dashtop and can easily take something as large as a laptop, but the glovebox is of an average size.
ON THE ROAD
- 81kW/240Nm 1.5 turbo diesel 4cyl
- 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
- MacPherson Strut front, torsion beam rear suspension
The Kangoo Maxi Crew is available with only one turbo-diesel engine, and is manual-only.
Don’t let the absence of an automatic dissuade you though, for the Kangoo is an easy van to pilot. The clutch is light and easily modulated, while the shifter is precise and free from slop.
The gear ratios are also well-matched to the engine’s output, and, with six ratios to choose from, it’s always got the right gear for the job.
With just 81kW and 240Nm coming from its 1.5 litre motor, the Kangoo is far from quick. But neither is it too slow; it's a work-unit after all.
Peak torque is available from 1750rpm but it falls off quite rapidly above 3000rpm, so frequent shifting is key.
Renault claims fuel economy of 4.7 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, but after a week of motoring we only managed 6.4 l/100km. Not a bad result for a commercial vehicle, but still shy of the mark nonetheless.
Handling-wise, the Kangoo generally behaves like a car.
The steering isn’t ponderous (unlike some other vans), the suspension not too jarring when unladen and it actually grips reasonably well considering it rolls on 195-section tyres.
It does carry more weight than the regular Kangoo Maxi though (around 120kg more, thanks to the rear seats), and at 1441kg unladen there’s a lot of mass to move for that little 1.5.
ANCAP rating: 4-Stars - this model scored 27.73 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS and brake assist are standard, along with dual front and front side airbags.
All seats get three-point seatbelts, however curtain airbags are not available on any Kangoo model.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The only true rival to the Kangoo Maxi Crew is Volkswagen’s Caddy Maxi Crewvan, which follows a similar two-row work van layout.
The Caddy’s 1.6 litre turbodiesel has only 75kW, but boasts 10Nm more than the Kangoo and is also available with a twin-clutch automatic transmission. Seats-up cargo capacity is also greater in the Caddy.
On the other side of the coin it’s a more expensive proposition, costing nearly $2000 more than the Kangoo.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The fact that there are only two brands offering five-seat small vans indicates that demand for such vehicles is pretty low - at least in this country.
And with the Kangoo Maxi Crew’s manual-only limitation and relatively modest power and torque outputs, it won't have Australian tradies rushing to abandon their dual-cab utes .
But if you need a van for your business, and also the flexibility of a bit of extra seating, the five-seat Kangoo Maxi Crew may be what you’re looking for.
However, the lack of rear airbag protection is a concern, and this is one area where the ever-improving dual-cab utes fare better than vans.
But, for deliveries, and as a handy workmate, the Kangoo Crew is certainly worth a look.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- Kangoo SWB - petrol manual - $19,990
- Kangoo SWB - petrol auto - $22,990
- Kangoo Maxi - diesel manual - $24,990
- Kangoo Maxi Crew - diesel manual - $27,990