CHOICE tested a top-of-the-range Kia Rondo with a 2L petrol engine, six-speed automatic transmission and seven seats; a 1.7L diesel engine is also available. We also lent the car to CHOICE voting members Ai and Luke and their girls Lucy (three) and Maia (one) for a weekend of family errand runs, plus a little fun at the beach.
Ai and Luke say:
We enjoyed how easy it was to both put in and extract the kids from the back. Child seat anchors are easy to locate on the back of the seats, wasting less space than having them in the ceiling of the car.
Lucy could access and use the controls, but since it came with a window lock, this mattered less. Maia could not reach the controls. While the kids have enough legroom with the front seats pushed all the way back, it could be better.
With two child seats installed there isn't enough room in the centre for another passenger to sit comfortably. On the plus side, the middle seat of the second row of seats folds down front-ways for some drinks space for the two kids.
While there is plenty of boot space for bikes, prams and shopping in the five-seater set-up, when the two rear seats were raised to make it a seven-seater, most of this space was lost and was only able to accommodate a single pram and shopping, or three school bags.
The kids loved the tray tables on the rear of the driver and passenger seats so they could do their "work".
We like a number of features and how intuitive the console is. Things like Bluetooth are super-easy to set up and radio controls on the steering wheel are intuitive. On the downside, we were disappointed with the quality of the drive and felt like we were in a maxi cab when the set-up was for seven seats.
We tried sitting in the rear seats and found it to be very uncomfortable for full-grown adults to be seated there for a long period. It might be OK for smaller kids, aged under 13 years.
We didn't like the steering wheel, as it's slippery without ridges. The stereo sounded very tinny and isn't enjoyable listening when pop music is on.
We found steering responsive and it comes in three different settings that change the difficulty in turning the wheel. The six-speed auto works well, although we find the ride is quite firm – most probably due to the large diameter, low-profile tyres supplied with the car. Seating was just right, without being too firm or too soft.
Engine noise was not really an issue when driving normally, but it becomes one when you put your foot down. Road noise is hardly noticeable on good roads, but there is a bit of tyre rumble on coarse roads. A pleasant interior, although mostly black, made it a nice place to be for the drive.
When all the seats are up in the seven-seater position, there is very little cargo space, however the five-seater allows much more. We find the visibility is restricted due to the thickness of the A pillar (the part that holds the windscreen in place) and the little quarter window.
There were plenty of features on this top-of-the-line version, with an almost full-length sun roof, rear-view camera and GPS, keyless entry and engine start, and dual-zone climate control air conditioner. Both the front seats could be heated or cooled with three settings.
While the Rondo is roomy as a five-seater, you might need some luggage racks if you use it as a seven-seater. Both our tester and member family enjoyed the features that came with this version, however our member family felt performance was sluggish, while our tester found the ride a bit firm and lacking in power.
Cost: From $39,990
Fuel usage claim vs measured per 100km: 7.9L vs 7.2L
Acceleration to 100km/h: 10.5s
Braking distance from 60km/h: 17.2m
ANCAP safety rating: 5 stars out of 5