There are numerous seven and even eight seat creations to satisfy even the most crowded family. Covering a range of segments some come equipped with all-wheel-drive others make do with front-wheel-drive. Most are SUV styled or full-blown off-roaders, then there’s the less popular van option. The Kia Rondo is cross between a compact sized Kia Carnival but with more than its fair share of SUV styling. EFTM spent a week in the seat plagued Kia creation.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
It most certainly feels like a van, the driving position is at least a metre away from the substantial windscreen. The short, snout like slopping bonnet rapidly disappears from sight. In fact the Kia Rondo Platinum has a real “Pope Mobile” feel to it, with acres of glass including corner triangular glass windows behind the A-pillar and a panoramic sunroof on higher spec models.
A perched seating position provides an accompanying bird’s-eye view, although marginally lower than most SUV’s. The interior is hardly European and ventures down a different path to what the Japanese offer. It attempts to generate a semi-premium look and feel, however closer examination reveals mostly harder, glossy plastics and an overall sense of cost cutting.
Driving the Rondo won’t channel your inner racetrack demon, the handling is uninspiring yet still totally predictable. The ride is mostly comfortable with adequate noise insulation and protection from most road surfaces. Push a little hard and there’s some default understeer but generally Kia has turned out a nice flat stance.
The 2.0-litre petrol unit is rather free-revving but hardly packs a knock-out punch. Matted to a decent six-speed automatic it does deliver smooth and adequate up and go.
However moving people is what the Kia Rondo Platinum does best, and it does so with minimal fuss with a stack of impressive features.
Ins and Outs
We tested the 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder petrol engine. With a 122kW peak output arriving at 6,500rpm and 213Nm at 4,700rpm. A 1.7-litre diesel four-cylinder is also on offer with a more impressive 100kW at 4,000rpm and 320Nm at 1,750-2,500rpm.
The Rondo provides one transmission option, a 6-speed automatic with a self select Manu-matic mode.
A combined fuel economy figure of 7.9l / 100km for the petrol seems overly ambitions, I sailed closer to 8.9 with just me onboard let alone an entire tribe. I’m tipping the diesel alternative may prove to be smarter proposition in the long run, it’s claimed figure is 6.4l / 100km. Strangely the oil-burner is not available on the top shelf model.
The Platinum variant comes heavily loaded with features. Some highlights include front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera, auto dimming rear-view mirror, LED daytime running lights, HID headlamps with washer, panoramic sunroof, static cornering lights, leather trim seats, rain sensor and privacy glass rear of the B-pillar.
The standard 6-speaker audio system is enhanced with an external amplifier and sub-woofer. A simple to use satellite navigation system is displayed via a 7” colour touchscreen.
Comfort levels are excellent with dual-zone climate control including vents for the 2nd row, heated and cooled front seats and even a heated steering wheel.
Six cup holders are spread across all three rows, with 4 bottle holders on the front and rear doors. Airline style front seat back fold-up tables are joined by another 2nd row centre table and multiple accessory pockets, coat hooks, luggage net and under-floor storage compartments.
The potential to fold almost entirely flat the 2nd and 3rd row creates serious room for an Ikea trip.
Perhaps cheekily Kia offers a driving mode called FlexSteer. Comfort, Normal and Sport modes alter steering weight and feel. There are no accompanying mapping changes to the transmission or engine output and is not all that useful. Sport mode feels overly heavy and artificial and you’ll struggle to notice the difference between Comfort and Normal.
The test car supplied had a RRP of $38,990 with $695 worth of optional metal paint. The Rondo range starts with the $29,990 Si with a few extra grand getting you into the $33,990 SLi. The 1.7-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine is a $2500 option, but unfortunately not available on the top spec Platinum. Kia has long offered a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, that’s some pretty significant piece of mind right there.
For a family of five this is an impressively priced and equipped car. The added benefit of throwing a couple of the kids pre-teen mates in the rear is another bonus. It’s also far from a plain looking people machine with modern flowing lines and a smart looking front and rear end design.
The Lasting Impression
It’s hard to look past the Koreans’ five year factory warranty, combine this with the now defunct shoddy reputation Kia dispensed with long ago and you have on your hands a nice piece of workmanship at an affordable entry price.
The EFTM Rubber Stamp.
The Kia Rondo is a cleanly designed, functional piece of kit but with some obvious drawbacks that may deter some, like any hint of driving fun. However I suspect many will be driven off showroom floors, because for many function and price will always win out over substance. It earns the EFTM Pass Rubber Stamp of approval.