My son has been on a "What do I want to be when I grow up?" bender lately. Every day he finds at least 25 new things he considers fair game for career options. These have ranged from police officer to trash guy to bird (yes, bird - as in the flying variety) one day, cyclist to pharmacist to chemist the next. As long as he's happy, right? Well, the 2007 Kia Rondo is having the same crisis.
Kia says the Rondo is an all-new crossover with flexible seating capabilities, and I read on our company-family website, Cars.com, that it's a "compact minivan." I was quite excited to see how a smaller car would accomplish summer tasks with my family, but after driving it about 5 minutes I discovered that the only flexible thing about the seating in my test car was that it could accommodate either one or two kids in car seats. There was no way in the world (or elsewhere, ahem) that more than that would fit. My test Rondo didn't have the optional third row, and the second row was very slender. No carpooling to the zoo in the Rondo for me - so much for flexible. Unlike the Mazda5, there is no sliding door option on the Rondo. I guess the car doesn't want to be a minivan when it grows up.
The most flexible thing about the Rondo is its storage space. It has plenty of consoles, nooks, crannies, cupholders and bins, but, unfortunately, none of them are in the backseat. There are some cupholders very inconveniently placed on the back of the center console, on the floor, where no child could possibly reach them while strapped in a car seat. I also cringed when I discovered there was no fold-down armrest in the center. This usually serves as a dividing line between my children. I guess the Rondo won't be a referee when it grows up, either. There are some more cupholders in the back cargo area that would be great in the event of a third row, but in my case they just seemed to just rub my face in the fact that I was lacking one.
The cargo area has nifty under-floor storage bins that I used to house dirty shoes and water bottles that like to roll around in a traditional trunk. Who doesn't love that? Also, the cargo area was large enough to house even the most cumbersome of strollers, as well as a massive load of clothes and toys going to Goodwill.
The Rondo also had plenty of legroom for us. The kids were comfortable in the back, even with my main squeeze in the front seat. The doors are tall, and I didn't whack my head once getting my daughter buckled up. The cockpit is also nice: It's not too big, the dash flows nicely and everything is very well-organized, comfortable and easy to use. I kept trying to figure out who the best owner of such a car would be. Maybe retirees who like to go antiquing? The tall windows do give a great view of everything around you - maybe the Rondo will be a fishbowl (all together now) when it grows up.
One thing I do know is that the Rondo will be a Spanish-speaking car. In our house, no one could say the car's name without rolling the "R" and stretching out the "O" at the end: "Rrrrrrrrondoooooo!" This added an element of fun and character missing in the car itself. I am convinced the folks at Kia started out with a good idea but wound up with a product that isn't ready to make any life decisions yet. Who knows, maybe a future generation of the Rondo will decide to be the flexible crossover Kia claims it is.
*For more information on the Kia Rondo and its safety features, visit Cars.com. With questions or comments regarding this review write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS
Latch Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair - Galore
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair - Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some
2007 Kia Rondo EX
Base price: $19,195
Price as tested: $20,995
Engine: 162-hp, 2.4-liter I-4
Fuel: 21/29 mpg
Ground clearance: 6.1"
Cargo space: 35.0/74.4 cu. ft.
NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings
Driver's side: 5 Stars
Passenger's side: 5 Stars
Front occupant: 5 Stars
Rear occupant: 4 Stars
Rollover resistance: 4 Stars