2007 Kia Rondo Long-Term Road Test

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2007 Kia Rondo: Swan Song

September 17, 2008

lastgas.jpg

I was offered the chance to drive the Rondo on its last night, provided I wash and gas it before we give it back. I hadn't driven the Rondo at all so I thought it fitting that I drive it on the last full day it's here.

I liked the tall glasshouse design as it really made me feel I was driving something like the Popemobile. All that light being let in really brightened up the cabin. I also liked the torquey engine. Though I don't think the tires were up to the talk. In fact, during a freeway merge at moderate acceleration the tires were squealing so much that it freaked me out and I backed off hard from the gas pedal.

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2007 Kia Rondo: 5,000 miles in July

July 25, 2008

07.kia.rondo.act-r34.555.jpg

When we last checked on our Kia Rondo, the odometer was shy of 11,000 miles and its long-term test was 3 months from completion. At this rate we still had 9,000 miles to reach our goal. So we found a volunteer.

"Don't come back until it turns 20k," blurted a shapeless mass of editors as it shoved our eager volunteer out the door. "Welcome to the team."

One month and 5,000 miles later the Rondo returned. Our mileage experiment fell short of expectations, but the Kia took it all in stride. At one point the tire pressure warning light clicked on. We topped off the tires for now, and will check them again in a couple of days.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Coordinator @ 16,264 miles

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2007 Kia Rondo: Do My Wheels Look Too Small?

June 02, 2008

There's something about the Kia Rondo's boxy proportions that make me think that it's wheels look too small. Twice this weekend I approached the Rondo thinking, man, those are some smmaaaall wheels, only to remind myself that they are in fact, 17-inchers.

Do you agree?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 10,354 miles

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2007 Kia Rondo: The Perfect Disguise

April 08, 2008

Photo by Caroline Pardilla

I don't know why but every time I'm out driving around and I see a cop car, I get nervous as if, "The jig is up! They found me!" And then I'm ultra aware of every movement I make, trying to toe the line so that I won't get pulled over and arrested for...whatever. Yes, I just have an exaggerated respect for authority.

I was driving our 2007 Kia Rondo to work this morning when I had an encounter with a cop car.

I didn't see him at first as I was behind a really slow-moving Mercedes sedan. For a split second I thought about switching lanes to get around the slow poke but then I saw the cop car.

I decided to stick behind the Mercedes and act like I liked it there, driving 5 mph below the speed limit. Had I been in our 2002 M3, I'm sure he would have seen through my charade. But in the Rondo, I looked like a happy commuter on her way to work, not in a hurry at all: "There's no need to hurry when I could sit in my tall car enjoying my tunes and fiddling with the climate control."

Little did he know that in this unassuming vehicle was a girl who has a penchant for extra-legal speeds. He just happened to catch her in a quiet moment, in the Rondo. And for this disguise I was thankful. The cop moved on.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 8,651 miles

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2007 Kia Rondo: Unpretentious

March 12, 2008

Photo by Doug Lloyd

Our long-term 2007 Kia Rondo defies categorization. For lack of a better word, we call it a people mover. Undignified, to say the least. Because it's not really a station wagon, and it's not an SUV, and it's not really a sedan, and it's not a crossover.

It just is. I wrote some time back that it's a car for people who don't like cars. Which, in hindsight, I feel is a trifle harsh. Because I like the fact that it can't be categorized. It's not trying to appeal to as many segments as possible, but what it does, it does very well. You can carry four people, maybe two adults and 3 kids, in decent comfort, and a bunch of groceries as well (or in my case, gear for a rehearsal). Its controls are simple. You turn it on and go. You want FM, punch the FM button. CD, the CD button. Flip on the lights, put it in D and go. It's just so straightforward and honest.

And yes, unpretentious. Get in and drive it and it does everything it does well. With no attitude and no claims to be anything other than it is. For people who just want to get around and carry some friends and their stuff, it's actually a great choice.

Doug Lloyd, Senior Copy Editor, @ 8,130 miles

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2007 Kia Rondo: The Obedient Child

February 25, 2008

2007 Kia Rondo - Photo by Warren Clarke

That old, vaguely creepy adage states that children should be seen but not heard. Of course, this isn't meant to imply that kids should be struck mute. Instead, it makes reference to the fact that some folks think that obedient children should exist with invisible efficiency, getting the job done (whatever that may be) without ever furrowing the brows of us busy grown-ups with behavior that's in any way challenging or wayward.

The Kia Rondo is a model of this kind of obedience.

This weekend, as I scooted around town from Whole Foods to the CD store, it did its job quietly and without fuss. When I decided to make an impromptu trip to a restaurant some 50 miles outside Los Angeles, it didn't ask any questions. As I mashed the throttle to enjoy the unusually clear 405, the Rondo dove in with a cheerful smile. It's not sexy or exciting or hot. But it is pleasant and accommodating, and sometimes that's good enough.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 6,504 miles

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2007 Kia Rondo: Perfectly Ordinary

January 02, 2008

Those of us who work in this business do so because we really like cars. We know a fair amount about them, some of us have raced or wrenched them, we have read car magazines and books, we have Speed Channel in our cable package; one of us even Tivos the Barrett-Jackson auction. But there are a whole lot of people out there who feel a car is simply a conveyance, a way to get from A to B. Nothing more, nothing less.

They wouldn't know a Merkur from a Maserati.

I believe the Kia Rondo is for these people. It's very easy to drive and get to know. It's plenty spacious, not really a station wagon and not really a sedan. All the buttons are where they should be, nothing particularly out of place, and it's got a heating system and a stereo and lights and all that. But I have absolutely no Feel for it, no Passion, nothing that rubs me one way or another. As a dyed-in-the-wool opinionated car lover, there's nothing I really DIS-like about it, but there's also nothing I particularly LIKE about it. You get in and you drive it and you park and you forget it. OK, to be honest, I don't particularly like how tall it is. But I don't dislike that either. It's just sort of a very good blah. And there happens to be a very large audience of people who want exactly that.

Rondo: The Car for People Who Don't Like Cars. or Rondo: If All You Care About Is Getting There. OK, maybe I need to work on these.

Doug Lloyd, Senior Copy Editor @ 4,842 miles

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2007 Kia Rondo: Don't Laugh

December 20, 2007

2007 Kia Rondo! -- Scott Jacobs

A few nights ago I stayed in a hotel. When checking in, the guy at the desk asked what I was driving so that he could give me a parking lot pass. "A Kia Rondo," I said with a bit of unintended Rondo soda enthusiasm.

Reaction? He laughed at me. Then he said, "A Rondo? I don't even know what that is."

I really do like our Rondo. It's versatile, roomy, of high quality and pleasingly affordable. But I think Kia faces an uphill battle. Nobody knows what it is. Plus, a female associate of mine had this reaction upon seeing it: "I would never drive it. It looks like a minivan." I suspect there are plenty of other young drivers out there with a similar opinion.

Then again, Kia and Mazda have the "mini minivan" market to themselves right now. So maybe they don't need a homerun since a double will do. If you're curious, here are the November 2007 YTD sales figures as reported by Automotive News.

Kia Rondo: 24,128
Mazda 5: 12,089

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2007 Kia Rondo: The Thirst Crusher

December 10, 2007

2007 Kia Rondo -- Scott Jacobs, Rondo drinker

"Rondo" is such a great word to say. Exclaim "Rondo!" every time you take a corner quickly in this wagon/mini-minivan and you and your passengers will instantly giggle.

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2007 Kia Rondo: Of Rover and Rondo

November 08, 2007

Kia Rondo Interior -- Photo illustration by James Riswick

Sitting in thoroughly craptacular traffic last night, I began pondering what this button does. It's not one you see very often, and its placement didn't help me much. After RTFM, I had a head-slapping, "well duh!" moment. It's a windshield deicer.

Not exactly useful to me here in SoCal, but back in my Indianapolis and Toronto days, this would have been clutch. Kudos to Kia for putting a premium feature like this into the Rondo; a feature normally equated with vehicles like the Range Rover (pictured below).

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2007 Kia Rondo: 'Wagon' Size Comparison

October 23, 2007

Kia Rondo with Mazda 3

Forgive the craptacular photo, but when coming down to my parking garage last week, I was struck by how jumbo our Kia Rondo looked next to a Mazda 3 5-door. According to Edmunds' vehicle classification, both of these are wagons, yet obviously, they couldn't be more different. The Rondo's shape sort of looks like someone stuck an air hose into the 3 and inflated it to bulbous proportions. I like the idea of mini minivans like the Rondo, but I think the Mazda 5 and other small MPVs from Europe (Ford S-Max, Opel/Vauxhall Vafira, Renault Grand Scenic) are much better realizations.

James Riswick, Associate Editor @ 2,303 miles

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2007 Kia Rondo EX: Art of Glass

October 17, 2007

The 2007 Kia Rondo's homely portholes have been the subject of derision around our office, but they go a long way toward enhancing visibility. With a length of 179 inches, the Rondo is longer than many of the vehicles it will likely be shopped against; the Scion xB, for example, clocks in at 167 inches. Still, the Rondo feels pretty maneuverable when it's time to squeeze into and out of parking spaces at the grocery store. All that well-placed glass in back gives the driver a clear view of what's going on.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 2,286 miles

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2007 Kia Rondo: Good Word of Mouth

October 12, 2007

Here's how the conversation about our 2007 Kia Rondo unfolded:

Editor #1: Hey, have you driven the Kia Rondo?

Editor #2: Yeah, I drove it last night.

Editor #1: What'd you think?

Editor #2: Uh, well, what'd you think?

Editor #1 (After a long pause): Actually, I was surprised. I thought it was a nice little car.

Editor #2: (Relieved) I thought so too!.

Praising the Rondo doesn't make you cool. It's a goofy looking car from the outside, like a bar of soap that's melted on the side of the tub, said one editor. But here's the thing -- it's not a bad little wagon/suv/whatever. It has a slightly elevated driving position, enough power, O.K. gas mileage (I once got 26 mpg) and lots of rear cargo space (or a third row seat for emergency passenger overloads). Despite the dorky exterior the interior is pretty sharp and the build quality feels solid.

The Rondo (silly name, too) is often cross-shopped against the Mazda 5 which has the definite advantage of having a pretty sleek design. But if you look at the National True Market Value prices of the two vehicles the Rondo is $1,257 cheaper. There are many aspects to compare, but the price differential alone might convince some to at least test drive this mini-hauler.

Philip Reed, Edmunds.com Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 2,192 miles

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