Kia Offers Bargain-Priced Wagon For Seven
What’s a Rondo? Well, if you ask the people at Kia, they would tell you that it’s a “crossover utility vehicle.” However, you could also call it a small minivan, but unlike its competitor, the Mazda5, it doesn’t have sliding doors. I see it as a tall compact wagon.
This wagon is spacious for its size. Open a door, and you’ll be impressed with the amount of room in the cabin. The Rondo is only slightly longer than a Toyota Corolla, but it can carry up to seven people, when three rows of seats are ordered. Surprisingly, headroom and legroom, in all rows, are good. The secret here is the Rondo’s height. It stands over six feet off the ground. Passengers sit tall, in chair-like seating positions. Rondos with a third row seats offer more foot room than many larger vehicles. Of course, getting into the third row requires some agility, but kids will find it easy enough to negotiate.
The Rondo is not as sporty looking as the Mazda5, but its styling is pleasant, and should wear well over time. The cabin is nicely finished and functional as well. There are numerous cupholders and small bins for odds and ends. The second and third-row seats fold down flat so you can haul nearly 60 cu.-ft. of supplies from your favorite home improvement store.
Kia gives buyers a choice of two power trains, a 162 hp four-cylinder engine teamed with a four-speed automatic, or a 182 hp V-6 connected to a five-speed auto. Both gearboxes have a manual shift mode, which comes in handy for selecting the gear you want going up or down steep hills. My test car, which came with the V-6 and the five-speed, had decent acceleration merging onto the freeway and sufficient power climbing grades. The transmission was smooth for the most part, but occasionally got confused when a downshift was required.
The handling in the Rondo is not as sharp as that of the Mazda5, but it’s well controlled. However, the Rondo does deliver a more comfortable ride than it s Mazda competitor. It absorbs bumps and uneven payment very well. Furthermore, the noise level in the cabin is commendably low.
In the safety department, Kia equips the Rondo with a full complement of airbags, and also includes anti-lock brakes and an anti-skid system as standard. This is surprising on a low-buck car. Hopefully, these features will be standard on all cars in the near future.
Rondo prices start at $16,995 for the base LX. The upscale EX with a V-6, like the one I drove begins at $20,795.
Lots of Interior Space
Seating for Seven
Base Price (EX V-6): $20,795
Engine: 2.7-ltr, DOHC, V-6
Transmission: 5-sp, auto
Brakes; disc, ABS
Gas Mileage: 20-27 mpg
# # #