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2007 Kia Rondo Review

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Model: Kia Rondo
Engine: 2.7-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower/Torque: 182 hp @ 6000 rpm/182 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Length x Width x Height: 179.0 x 71.7 x 65.0 in.
Tires: P225/50R17
Cargo volume: 31.7 cu. ft.
Economy: 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway/24.5mpg test
Fuel capacity: 15.8 gal.
Price: $23,495(includes $600 inland freight and handling charge, $1,000 leather package option, $1,200 premium package with a power sunroof and Infinity sound system, and $500 third row seat)

The Bottom Line– Somewhere between a mid-size sedan and a 2WD crossover, the new Kia Rondo offers gobs of luggage and/or passenger capacity in a pleasing package. Performance is decent from the 2.7-liter V6, while handling is normal for the class. There are many positives and few negatives in this new entry.

Most of the time, I get to evaluate vehicles on a one-week schedule, during which I usually 100-200 miles over a variety of roads. Occasionally, I get longer tests, either in mileage or time, in which the vehicle and I either become friends or enemies.

In more than 1,000 miles of driving, the Kia Rondo and I became friends. Good friends.

Due to a family emergency, I drove the Kia from Pennsylvania to North Carolina and back. I learned all the car’s quirks and foibles (few) as well as its good points (many). After a stressful week, I realized how happy I was to have had the Rondo, rather than several other possible options.

First, the Rondo is powered by a 2.7-liter V6 that develops 182 horsepower. This is plenty of power for 95 percent of the driving conditions I encountered. There were a few times when I might have wanted a bit more. For example, some entry ramps onto Interstates required some advance planning, especially when 18-wheelers were approaching. Thankfully, these were few and far between.

I also noticed that the engine was quiet. Sure, there was some noise when engine revs exceeded 5,000, but most cars have some high-end noise, so it wasn’t a problem.

The Rondo has a 5-speed automatic transmission that’s mounted at the base of the center stack. This keeps the shifter out of the way of other center-console uses, like holding coffee cups, water bottles and the like. It also proved to be a practical location whenever I decided to use the manual mode of the automatic. Its location was closer to what I prefer for a manual, so manual shifting wasn’t difficult.

I must admit I was shocked when I noticed that the Rondo had three rows of seats. All this on a car with a 106.3-inch wheelbase that’s only 179.0 inches in overall length. For my main trips, I folded the third row seats flat into the floor, but when I put them back up and sat back there, I was surprised. Sure, legroom was tight, but it wasn’t impossible. The third row would be ideal for child seats or booster seats, with adults sitting in the front two rows. The second row right seat slides forward for decent third-row access. Also, the third row offers very good visibility, so passengers back there don’t get claustrophobia.

Second-row seating is also good, with very good legroom and a flat floor for the center passenger. There’s good cargo behind the second row, with the third row folded, and essentially no cargo space behind the third row when it’s up. There is a small under-floor compartment for smaller objects.

On long rides - and we had them – the Rondo proved to be comfortable. The seats offer good side support with door-mounted arm rests and a center arm rest that I felt was in the correct position. Thankfully, the seats were heated, which offered comfort to my aching back after 11-plus hours behind the wheel. There was also a “dead pedal” to rest your left foot on long runs.

Controls were clearly marked. The Rondo has a “smart” steering wheel with audio controls on the left and cruise control switches on the right. There were a few mis-hits on the audio buttons. We had a good HVAC system that was used primarily for air conditioning.

The door pulls have bottoms to hold cell phones, and there’s a sunglass holder in the overhead console. A small tray/cubby above the glove box door was useful, probably more useful than the small glove box.

On the rare occasions when I put excessive miles on a test car, I’m always pleased when the car I’m driving becomes a friend.

The Kia Rondo became a good friend that I was sad to see leave my driveway.

2007 The Auto Page Syndicate