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Reviews for the Kia Rondo

medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
edited March 10 in Kia
So what's the consensus so far? Almost all of the reviews range from middle-of-the-road to positive, with a majority being clearly positive. In fact, only two of the reviews were definitely negative (see the and KickingTires reviews in the American section below).

Thanks to conwelpic for suggesting the creation of this discussion/thread. And thanks to everyone who first posted some of these links in other threads. Feel free to make corrections, update the links, or post links to recent reviews.

American Reviews
Active Lifestyle Vehicles
Ann M. Job (Associated Press)
Boston Globe (video) Not sure who the people are in the video or what organization produced it
Car & Driver (Feb. 2007)
Car & Driver (May 2007)
Car Connection
Chicago Sun-Times
CNET Focuses on the technology and entertainment systems in the Rondo
Family Car
Frank A. Aukofer (Scripps Howard News Service)
Kansas City Star
KickingTires ( blog)
LA Times
Michael Karesh (creator of
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Motor Trend
New Car Test Drive
Orlando Sentinel
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sacramento Bee
San Francisco Chronicle
San Jose Mercury News
Stamford Times
Truth About Cars
Washington Times

Canadian Reviews (Nov. 2006) (June 2007)
Canadian Driver (Nov. 2006)
Canadian Driver (May 2007)
Globe & Mail
Graeme Fletcher (CanWest News Service)
Graeme Fletcher (CanWest News Service) - Rondo EX V6 vs. Mazda5 GT
Kelly Taylor (CanWest News Service)
Motoring Television (QuickTime video)
Toronto Star (Nov. 2006)
Toronto Star (May 2007)
Toronto Sun
Victoria Times Colonist


  • medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
    Some British reviews for the latest Carens (a.k.a. Rondo in the US and Canada):

    Auto Express - New Reviews
    Auto Express - First Drives
    Car Keys
    Car Magazine Negative review
    Honest John
    What Car?
  • medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
    One new and one old review from Canada, both positive:
    Calgary Sun
  • conwelpicconwelpic Ontario, CanadaPosts: 600
    "Hmm. Imagine what might happen if and when Kia gets those quality scores up there among the average and above-average brands."
    This was the last line from from a review in the Globe and Mail back in November 2006.

    Which is interesting as here is the latest report from J.D. Powers on Initial Quality Study dated June 6th.

    "Among non-premium brands, Kia posts the largest improvement in ranking, moving from 24th in 2006 to 12th in 2007"

    full write up:
  • medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
    MotorWeek--read the review or watch the video
    Mostly positive review.

    Winding Road
    I would deem this short review as probably negative. The reviewer focuses mainly on his dislike of the four-cylinder transmission but doesn't say much about the V6 or anything else.
  • conwelpicconwelpic Ontario, CanadaPosts: 600
    Thanks, I've added the Motorweek one to my list (like the video), I already had the Winding Road which I thought was a very poor and extremely short review, not because of any negative comments (thats what we want to know and to check it out to see if it is actually correct) but not very thorough. Their comment about competing with the HHR for example with regards to the 4 cylinder engine, I've read comments about the HHR engine saying the same thing. Makes you wonder sometimes what these testers were driving before they reviewed, as most of the negative comments on the 4 cylinder don't seem to relate to actual owners use.
    What engine do you have in your Rondo "medicineman". (you didn't fill out your profile)
  • odmanodman Posts: 309
    I was in a grocery store today and saw the July issue with a Rondo review:
  • medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
    You can read about my thoughts on the 4 cylinder and the handful of negative reviews over here. Not that it's all that enlightening--far from it. :)
  • medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
    Seven more reviews to add to the list. Six are generally positive, one is generally negative (see last review).
    Everett Daily Herald
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    Tirekicking Today

    Car Connection (Dec. 2006)
    This review is different from the Car Connection review in the original post. It's a preview look at the Rondo, which is really just a review of the Carens with diesel engine.
  • medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
    I think you'll get a kick out of this positive review, so check it out:

    BTW, the review mentioned this: "Aux input jack for iPods and Cowon Mp3 players is coming for 2008."
  • medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
    Another positive review:
    NY Times
  • conwelpicconwelpic Ontario, CanadaPosts: 600
    if you haven't seen it, check out, its quite an elaborate site and covers their world market.
  • conwelpicconwelpic Ontario, CanadaPosts: 600
    thanks for yet another review, but I was looking around the Consumer Site and in their blog this report was made:

    This group of expensive, upscale SUVs begs for a brickbat award to the new BMW X5. At almost $57,000, the most expensive in this group by $10,000. The ride is hard, the transmission hunts constantly, routine handling feels ponderous and heavy, and the six-cylinder engine seems overwhelmed. Worse, I found the whole vehicle to be a nuisance to live with. The wiper and turn signal controls have a mind of their own. The cruise control is impossible to see or decipher. The radio and navigation controls are obtuse. And my whole family spent all weekend pulling the interior door handles twice to get out as I fumbled for the power unlock button. (Silly me, I didn't think to look on the center of the dashboard between the A/C vents and the hazard-lights button.) Then when we did get the doors open, we had to leap out over the running boards and slap a piece of trim back in place on the left rear fender after every trip. In the end, I preferred driving my humble Subaru Forester, or even the bland-but-competent Lincoln MKX, over this "luxury" SUV.

    so the odd complaints I've come across for the Rondo, seem pale in comparison to this vehicle and to think you only have to pay $40,000 (US) more to have all these "great features"! ;)
  • medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
    I would deem this review as negative, since the columnist doesn't see any reason to buy a Rondo (except for being easier to park) when you can buy a Dodge Caravan that has much more room and just slightly worse mileage. He believes that the Caravan can be had for less than the Rondo due to the imminent release of the redesigned 2008 Caravan. I guess he wouldn't see any reason to buy a Mazda5, either.

    I decided to post the entire article since it might not be available on the website for much longer.


    Can a Small Van Make It Big in the U.S.?

    May 11, 2007; Page W3

    Strange as it might seem in our consumerist land of unlimited choice, there are plenty of vehicles we can't buy in the U.S. Not just diesel-powered luxury sedans and exotic supercars, but everyday transportation as common in the rest of the world as Ford F-150 pickups are here.

    Take small minivans, for instance. They are part of one of the fastest-growing vehicle segments in Europe, called multipurpose vehicles or MPVs. Dozens of such models are sold there, while we have a handful -- literally. You can count them on one hand: The seven-year-old, retro-styled Chrysler PT Cruiser (one) needs no introduction. Its largely derivative doppelgänger, the Chevrolet HHR (two), deserves none. The cultist Scion xB (three) and the sporty Mazda5 (four) are more representative of the genre as it exists in countries that ratified the Kyoto treaty. That leaves us with a thumb left for the newest entrant to this segment, Kia's Rondo.

    The Rondo is essentially a tall, midsize wagon with an optional pair of folding seats in the cargo area. That means it can seat as many as seven despite a footprint slightly smaller than the Korean maker's midsize Optima sedan, on which it is based. To get a sense of how much a typical American minivan dwarfs the Rondo, consider that at 179 inches long, it's more than 10 inches shorter than the standard Dodge Caravan and nearly two feet shorter than the long-wheelbase Grand Caravan.

    Unlike conventional minivans, the Rondo does without sliding doors, an effective ploy in disguising its true purpose for the image-conscious. What style points the conventional doors give, however, the upright stance and large "greenhouse" (what car makers call the glassed-in area) take away. The overall look is something like a Toyota Camry crossed with a London taxicab.

    In parts of the world where people actually know what the latter looks like, Kia's front-wheel-drive people mover is powered by either a diesel or gasoline engine, both with four cylinders and a two liters of displacement. For the U.S. market, however, the vehicle comes with a choice of a 2.4-liter four or a 2.7-liter V6, both running on gasoline and mated to automatic transmissions. That the "small" engine in the U.S. market is 20% larger than its European counterpart is significant, because this is the heart of the problem facing the Rondo in its immigration to the States.

    Ostensibly, the main reason someone would buy a compact MPV instead of a bigger, roomier minivan is to get better fuel economy -- at least that's the reasoning in Europe. So let's do some math. The four-cylinder Rondo sold in the U.S. has a combined EPA fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon, while the V6 version gets 23. But those numbers are for the five-passenger version, and adding the extra seats will tack on roughly 70 additional pounds to the Rondo's 3,300-plus pound curb weight. And that's before you put any bodies in those seats. A more real-world answer to the fuel-economy question is that in more than 300 miles of driving in a seven-passenger, V6-powered Rondo, I averaged 19.6 mpg.

    Now let's look at the big minivans. The 2007 Dodge Caravan with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine has a combined EPA rating of 22 mpg. Opt for the 3.3-liter V6 and that drops to 21 mpg. The Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest, both equipped with 3.5-liter V6s, manage 22 mpg and 21 mpg, respectively. In everyday driving, any of these minivans will average in the high teens.

    Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Because I'm pretty sure I know what Kia's customers are thinking. The Costco-shopper types who tend to frequent Kia dealerships are always on the lookout for the best deal, and a mile or two of extra driving per gallon may not seem like a big enough payoff for a less-roomy interior. That means about the only way Kia dealers can hope to snare these people away from regular minivans is with a cut-rate price. The least-expensive seven-passenger Rondo starts at $18,995, including destination charge, which may or may not do it. There is undoubtedly a Dodge dealer in your neck of the woods who will be glad to unload a 2007 Caravan for less, thanks to the Caravan's imminent 2008 redesign.

    Hopefully the Rondo can find a market as a nice alternative to the status quo. It seems well screwed-together, and it moves with that quiet, detached fluidity that has long been the hallmark of Toyotas. It doesn't come with power doors or a power tailgate or a DVD player in the back seat. (Perhaps Kia can get a coalition of librarians and newspaper publishers to promote this absence-of-feature.) There are no origami-puzzle seats that disappear into thin air, but the seats do slide and fold easily enough to allow your brood to clamber into an almost-spacious third row.

    That said, there's still not a compelling reason to purchase a Rondo instead of a conventional minivan, save for it being slightly easier to park. If Kia would have left well enough alone and imported the four-cylinder European version, a stronger case could be made. Of course, Kia's perception of the importance of power and acceleration ruled the day, as it always does in the U.S.

    Perhaps that's why we don't get more European vehicles here. We just don't get them.

  • medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
    Auto columnist Warren Brown made this short negative comment about the Rondo during an online chat session (see here):

    Neither I nor my assistant, Ria Manglapus, liked the Rondo. It was an unadulterated disappointment--sub par build quality, whiny engines (both the 162-horsepower inline four AND the 182-hp V-6), uninspired styling. Kia generally has been doing a very good job with new product introductions. The Rondo isn't one of them.
  • medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
    There are currently 63 reviews for the Rondo posted in this thread/discussion (including that short bit by the WP columnist). This total doesn't include the posted reviews for the Carens because of the differences between the Carens and Rondo (i.e., the Carens is available in manual and diesel versions, not so for the Rondo).

    By my estimation:
    58 reviews range from mildly positive to very positive.
    5 reviews are generally negative.

    Whenever a review does criticize the Rondo, it's usually about its looks and/or its performance and handling, although most reviews do not mention these "flaws." Most reviews are positive about the Rondo's utility, configurability, safety and roominess--although some state that the seven seater's rearmost seats are suitable for children and shorter adults only.
  • conwelpicconwelpic Ontario, CanadaPosts: 600
    This guy sure misses the point (size does matter), but he does have a few valid points regarding the changes of "world" vehicles brought into North America, but KIA is not the only one. The same applies to Toyota like the Verso, Honda FR-V, Ford C-Max and S-Max, etc that have great MPV's in Europe and you don't see them here. I'm not sure, but I think the engine situation is an emissions problem that's the reason for no diesels over here at present (but they will be coming in the next 2-3 years) or even the smaller gas engines. I like the London taxicab comparison as I think thats a great design and efficient use of space (I actually saw one on the 401 last year that was owned by a shuttle service company in Ontario).
    However, he did seem impressed with the quality.
    It seems well screwed-together, and it moves with that quiet, detached fluidity that has long been the hallmark of Toyotas.
  • medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
    conwelpic wrote:
    This guy sure misses the point (size does matter)

    Yep, I agree with you. For some of us, buying a not-so-minivan would be overkill. I just don't need that much space. I also don't feel comfortable driving a huge vehicle on congested city streets. Trying to parallel park it? Forget about it. It's kind of ironic that I'm saying this since I learned to drive in a huge honkin' Plymouth Grand Fury.
This discussion has been closed.