Full 2007 Kia Rondo Review
What's New for 2007
Although it's been on sale in other parts of the world under a different name, the 2007 Kia Rondo is all new for the U.S. Its proportions are more like a small minivan, but Kia is calling the all-new 2007 Rondo a sporty crossover vehicle.
Kia calls the all-new 2007 Rondo a crossover utility vehicle. Essentially a mini-minivan, the Rondo offers much of the flexibility and passenger-hauling abilities of a larger minivan without the not-so-mini size and price tag.
For shoppers with smaller or young families, the vehicle's low base price (under $20,000) and seven-passenger seating option make it impossible to ignore. Both the second- and optional third-row seats fold flat for maximum cargo carrying, and the third row has a 50/50 split. Accompanying those folding seats are an abundance of cupholders and storage bins that make the Rondo's interior that much more useful.
These smaller "space wagon MPVs" are quite popular in Europe and Asia. In fact, the Kia Rondo has been on sale as the Kia Carens in these markets. Older variants of that vehicle received tepid reviews in the past but Kia has clearly applied its affordability/value formula to the redesigned Carens, and that carries over nicely to the Rondo. Foreign reviews tout the compact minivan as a "bargain," which makes perfect sense given what we know about Kias sold here in the U.S.
It's hard to nail the Kia Rondo down to a specific vehicle category but its closest competitor would have to be the Mazda 5. The Rondo is slightly taller and wider than the Mazda and it offers the choice of a four- or six-cylinder engine. Other competitors might include the Chevrolet HHR, the short-wheelbase Dodge Caravan or perhaps a crossover SUV like the Toyota RAV4 Limited with its third-row seat.
In the end, we expect that most customers will cross shop the 2007 Kia Rondo with more traditional wagons and sedans. If spending as little money as possible, seven-passenger seating and a nimble size are your highest priorities, you should add the Rondo to your short list in a hurry. However, if you're willing to pay a little more in exchange for a truly roomy interior, a Honda, Toyota or even a Kia minivan would probably work better for your family.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Kia Rondo is offered in LX and EX trims. Base LX models feature 16-inch alloy wheels, a CD player, full power accessories, a height-adjustable driver seat and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. All Rondos come standard with air-conditioning except the base LX. EX versions add interior features like upgraded cloth covering the seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, lighted vanity mirrors and an MP3-capable audio system with additional speakers and steering-wheel-mounted controls. Exterior enhancements on the EX include 17-inch wheels, chrome door handles, roof rails, body-side molding and a crossbar on the grille.
Options include a third row of seating, a convenience package on the LX and a leather package and Premium package for the EX. The LX Convenience Package includes remote entry and cruise control. The EX leather package adds heated leather seats and the EX Premium Package adds an upgraded Infinity sound system and a sunroof.
Powertrains and Performance
All Kia Rondos are front-wheel drive and are equipped with either a four- or six-cylinder engine. The Rondo shares its basic mechanical architecture with the Kia Optima and therefore has the same engine choices. Four-cylinder versions come with a 2.4-liter inline-4 and a four-speed automatic transmission. That engine is good for 162 horsepower and 164 pound-feet of torque. The V6 displaces 2.7 liters and comes with a five-speed automatic transmission. That engine is good for 182 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque, which is slightly less powerful than the same engine as found in the Optima. Even though the option of a V6 will appeal to many buyers, that engine is still smaller and less powerful than those in many of the vehicles the Rondo will be compared to. Those who want a little more control will be happy to know that both transmissions feature a Sportmatic feature that lets the driver select their own gear.
All Kia Rondos come with plenty of safety features. Front-seat mounted airbags, side-curtain airbags for all three rows, electronic stability control, antilock disc brakes and a tire-pressure monitoring system are all standard.
Interior Design and Special Features
With the Kia Rondo, the most unique or special feature is the fact that the somewhat smallish wagon/van offers the option of seven-passenger seating. Having that kind of flexibility will certainly be a selling point for some shoppers. Adding to the Rondo's versatility is the fact that the second-row seats split 60/40 and can fold flat into the floor. The optional third row of seats split 50/50 and can also fold flat, giving the Rondo a completely flat floor when cargo-hauling is needed. Be aware, however, that the third-row seat is very cramped and is suitable for small children only.
Although the 2007 Kia Rondo feels adequately powered off the line, passing power is somewhat lacking with both the 2.4-liter four and the V6. The V6 especially seems to run out of breath as the revs climb, and the manual mode on the automatic is needed for any sort of spirited driving. While not the most powerful engines on the block, both deliver smooth acceleration and are quiet when cruising on the highway. Thanks to quick steering, the Rondo can feel somewhat sporty, although there can be excessive body roll when cornering.
Read our Kia Rondo Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test