Renault's small van mixes work and family duties all at once.
What is it?
The Kangoo Crew is a small van for those who need the option of a work vehicle but also need to carry up to five passengers whether it be colleagues at work or family at home.
How does it drive?
Small vans have come a long way over the last few years, and the Kangoo is no exception as it drives more like a conventional car than a traditional commercial van.
Unladen the van is very comfortable as small bumps and rough roads are soaked up with little fuss. The 1.5-litre engine gets along very well too with minimal turbo lag and a healthy 240Nm of torque making it feel spritely around town. The steering is well weighted too, the clutch is light and the gearbox shift is direct, albeit a little notchy.
When the rear seats are folded down there is more road noise booming through from the cargo area compared with the seat upright.
Overall, the van has great vision with glass all round (our test van has optional rear cargo glass) and a low window line making a noticeable impression as soon as you look over your shoulder.
What's the interior like?
The interior is full of quality hard plastics with different colours and different textures of grain, which gives the appearance they could be made of a soft material, while some shiny black trim around the radio and ventilation controls is a nice touch.
There is a high rise centre console with plenty of storage space but elsewhere the glove box is deep yet it's small and fairly useless, as are the door pockets even though they have a cup and bottle holder.
The van has a storage shelf in the roof but it has no liner for things to grip on to under hard acceleration or on steep inclines. The sunvisors also don't have vanity mirrors and the steering wheel only has height adjustment. The front seats have good bolstering, are comfortable and supportive.
The hood lining in the van covers the second row of seats but then stops, which allows for a little more cargo height but creates some more noise resonance. The rear seat has plenty of room, all three seating positions have lap/sash seat belts and the seat itself, which has a 60:40 split-fold function, stows away nicely into the floor.
The Kangoo has cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and headlight adjustment as standard features.
What's the payload and towing capacity?
Payload is 750kg for this model variant. Its unbraked towing capacity is 750kg with a maximum 1050kg braked. Tow ball down weight is 90kg max.
What about load space dimensions and anchor points?
The length of the cargo bay, with the seats up, is 1008mm and 1862mm with them down. Its 1251mm high and, coincidentally, the same measurement in width between the wheel arches. It's total load volume seats up is 1.3 cubic metres as a five-seater and 3.4 cubic metres with the seats down. It has four tie down points at mid height and another four on the floor
How does it perform under load?
The engine gets along fine and does a good job with the weight on board, and although you will find yourself going through the gears on hills the van had no problems sticking to speed limits when loaded up with our 600kg test weight.
Even though it looked as though it was going to struggle with that much on board, as the rear of the van sat very low. But it was still a full two inches clear of the bump stops and handled the weight surprisingly well.
Bumps and undulations in the road didn't fazed it, nor did average roads, but the Kangoo did tend to wander around in the back-end at highway speeds.
Any special features worth mentioning?
It takes a full-sized Australian pallet between the wheel arches, which is handy. It also has twin sliding doors as standard.
Our test vehicle was fitted with the optional Lifestyle pack which includes R-Link enhanced audio and navigation, leather steering wheel , rear air vents, body painted front and rear bumpers , gloss black door mirrors and extra tinted windows.
The radio controls are mounted behind the steering wheel, and are easily bumped when turning. The accelerator, clutch and brake pedals are too close together - you find your clutch foot catching the top of your brake foot when braking and downshifting, which can make you 'stab' the brakes unintentionally. It misses out on a reverse camera as standard equipment and there's no automatic option for this model.
Also, the windows in the sliding doors do not wind down but rather push open a few inches. The rear barn doors open in two stages, the first to a 90 degree angle while the second is out to a full 270 degrees, which is handy, but it requires releasing a separate latch around the side of the van and they don't lock in place to stop them moving. We found this out the hard way when a slight breeze swung the doors shut, one of which gave us an almighty thud in the back while the other hit the pallet on the fork lift.
What else should I consider?
If safety is paramount then the VW Caddy is worth a look, while the Citroen Berlingo and Fiat Doblo represent viable alternatives.
The Kangoo Crew is a flexible small van if you need to mix work and family into the one vehicle, as there is plenty of room for both - even at the same time. But like others in its class the Kangoo is short changed in the safety department and doesn't have a lot of creature comforts.
The Kangoo Crew is unfortunately not available in all country, some offering only the commercial option, the Renault Kangoo. You can find out more about that model here.