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Rondo vs Outlander/Rav4/Santa Fe/Mazda5

dnatodaydnatoday Posts: 8
edited March 2014 in Kia
Help! I have been looking for the past few days for something to replace my 1993 Honda Accord Wagon. We love this car, but it is long in the tooth. I like the idea of a 3rd row of seats for when my kids need to bring along a friend, but I DO NOT want a minivan or SUV. We looked at the Mazda5, which while fun, felt cheap inside & our 9 yo thought it was uncomfortable. Only 6 seats though and it did have manual, but we looked at the Rondo "just to have something to compare it to". I was surprised at how much I LIKED the Rondo! We were all set to buy the EXv6 w/the premium package (gotta have a moonroof!) & we even put $$ down.

Then my husband went on the internet. Too much time on his hands and viola! we now have The Outlander, Rav4 & Santa Fe competing in this "not minivan or SUV but rather a pumped up wagon" space.

I have read the reviews and am totally lost. Friends of mine are scared of the Rondo because of the Kia brand & it's a 1st model year (only in this country I tell 'em) but I understand that Kia has really been turning into a very reliable company.

Help me understand what the best 7 seater is that has the following features:

Safety, reliability, good gas mileage and a nice dose of "fun to drive".

A good plus would be the company being able to back the car for the next few years.

Thanks for your help all you knowledgeable car guys (and/or gals!)!


  • mpuzachmpuzach Posts: 635
    I just bought a 2007 Santa Fe Limited AWD and I've got to say, it's a fantastic vehicle. Though mine doesn't have 3rd row seating, it's available as an option. If you haven't taken a close look at the Santa Fe or driven one, I highly recommend that you do so before buying anything else. Here's a link to an admittedly "wordy" write-up that I just did in a different Edmund's discussion:

    Link to new Santa Fe purchase
  • conwelpicconwelpic Ontario, CanadaPosts: 600
    As you did not fill in your location I don't know whether you are in the US or Canada.
    Here in Canada the Santa Fe with sunroof and 7 seating would be $10,000 more than the Rondo EX-V6 Luxury 7 seater. The Santa Fe was one of the vehicles I am considering, but when I compare feature for feature its hard to justify the additional cost, also of all the road test I have read on the Santa Fe and seen, the one continuing problem is always poor gas mileage and with the price of gas these days you have to consider it. Also do you need 4WD?
    The RAV4 you are looking at nearly $9,000 more, why you always have to get the top model to get the sunroof feature is beyond me, this seems to apply to most manufacturers.
    The Outlander you are looking at nearly $5000 more, but I don't like the black interior.
    I've checked out the Mazda 5 side by side to the Rondo and even though they are similar priced, when you compare feature for feature the Rondo comes out ahead.
    Depends how much you want to spend and how much value you place on a sunroof. I like a sunroof but when I found you had to purchase the higher end models to get it, it was a very expensive sunroof!
    You said you did not want a SUV, but that's what the Santa Fe, Outlander and RAV4 are. If you are going that route have you considered the CR-V, that's about $6600 more.
    However, we would be interested in what eventually buy and your reasons for purchasing that vehicle, many of us are going through the same process, so you are not alone!
  • dnatodaydnatoday Posts: 8
    We are in New England. I, too thought that the Santa Fe, Outlander and RAV4s were SUVs, but it seems they have snuck into that nebulous "cross over" category.

    Have you looked at the "total cost of ownership" links in Edmunds which seem to show that the Outlander & the Rondo cost the same after 5 years-- about 42K?

    We are blowing off previous evening plans to drive the Mitzu. I am hopeful we haven't pissed off our Kia dealer by backing out of the deposit, but there are other kia dealers within 50 miles.....
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    "...why you always have to get the top model to get the sunroof feature is beyond me, this seems to apply to most manufacturers."

    To extract top $$ from buyers since most people seem to want a hole in their roof. Personally I think a sunroof is one of the most useless features on a vehicle. In the case of the RAV4, the problem actually is that you need to ante up to the Limited model to get the 3rd row seat.
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    I think 95% of the 'utes out there are technically cross-overs -- basically just jacked up wagons with various forms of AWD/4WD.
  • dodo2dodo2 Posts: 496
    Mazda5 is a 6 seater so it doesn't meet your criteria.
    If you are strong about "fun to drive", Rondo may not fit the bill. I didn't drive it, but I read few reviews and Kia's are not exactly known for this after all.
    It leaves you with the Outlander, Santa Fe and RAV4. Out of all, I think the Outlander has the most "fun to drive", although the RAV4 V6 (you will have to get the LTD for 7 seats) and to a certain extent the Santa Fe are not bad either.
    Of course, I would recommend you the Outlander as being the closest to meet your requirements out of the three.
    You will need the Outlander XLS 4WD w/Sun&Sound.
    On the side note, they all have 7 seats, but I don't think the 3rd row is of any use in any of them.
  • chelentanochelentano Posts: 634
    I agree with dodo2: Mazda5 and Rondo will not work for you.

    RAV4 is nice overall, but RAV4 has shorter warranty then Outlander and SF. RAV4 has no free roadside assistance. Also it has too many little problems, according to owner feedback: on all 3 major sites RAV4 has lower owner satisfaction rating, then Santa Fe and Outlander:

    ---------- MSN autos -- --Yahoo Autos
    Outlander - 9.5 -------------- 9.2 -------------- 4.5
    Santa Fe -- 9.5 -------------- 9.2 -------------- 4.5
    RAV4 ------- 8.6 -------------- 9.0 -------------- 3.5

    Santa Fe
    Santa Fe is great, most upscale interior in the group, but little short on features, 3rd row seat cost extra as a part of package, only single CD-player and according to road test 5-speed "transmission sometimes slow to respond and unimpressive brakes". Still very pleasant car with great warranty.

    Outlander is the best in the group to my opinion. It's fun to drive, smooth 6-speed transmission, better gas mileage then SF and best styling in the group to my taste. Standard Outlander XLS loaded with many features, some are not available even on standard Lexus RX350: 6 speed shiftable automatic transmission + paddle shifters (fun to drive), 18" tires, split lift gate, Fast-Key, keyless ignition, bluetooth, odor absorbing interior, LED rear lights, 6-CD stereo with MP3, roof rails.

    Sunroof is not included in standard model but I would not care for it much even though I have it. Beige interior looks much nicer to me vs. black. 3rd row is tiny but is good for kids and when folded it does not take much space.

    It has all the safety equipment: skid/traction control, electronic brake assist, ABS, 8 airbags, tire pressure monitor, hands free phone link. Unlike many other cars, Outlander offers tri-mode AWD, similar to Mercedes "4Matic": 2WD for better fuel economy, 4WD auto and 4WD locked. This car, I believe, expected to have good reliability since it is build entirely in Japan, and with amazing 5/10 warranty and 5 year road side assistance reliability is not a major factor. Roadside assistance would even replace you flat tire for free: just call 800 number!

    I was offered standard Outlander XLS 2WD for $22.5K, but I ended up getting XLS AWD with most of the packages.
  • ppetroffppetroff Posts: 10
    In response to the 3rd row seating.... This is my family's criteria as well. I believe I saw on the Mitsu. website that they don't recommend anyone over 5' sitting in them. We are merely having them as a backup if our sons - ages 8 & 12 bring a friend along and we can put the 8 yr old and friend in the back. If you are want something more of a wagon and not a crossover you may want to look at the Saturn Outlook - nice and big, the Ford Freestyle (we didn't like just because it's a Ford) or the Mazda CX-9 (very big like the Outlook). Of course since I am responding on a Santa Fe board I am partial to the SF and will be purchasing monthend. We did narrow our choices down to the Outlander, SF and Rav. Really liked the pep of the RAV, but for the $ the SF is such a better buy. We aren't 20 yrs old anymore and don't have to have the pep! The Rav also seemed so cheap inside to us in many ways. Good luck with your search. I initially looked at the Rondo and came to the conclusion of one of the other posters and dismissed it pretty quickly - reviews weren't so hot.
  • chelentanochelentano Posts: 634
    Well, it appears the original poster is constrained by smaller and less expensive vehicles, but Outlook and CX-9 would not fit into it. So there is no way you could have full size 3rd row seat. Outlander's 3rd row is intended to be for smaller people.
  • medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
    The reviews for the Rondo have actually been quite good. I and others have posted many reviews in this thread--for example, post #112 and #132 to #135. Out of the forty reviews or so that I've read, almost all of them tended towards the positive side. In fact, I could find only two reviews that I would deem as definitely on the negative side. As for comments from individual users in blogs and forums, I have no overall impression, but one can easily check out some of the comments in the Rondo forum. Anyway, regardless of the reviews, it might not be what the original poster is looking for, anyway.
  • ergsumergsum Posts: 146
  • conwelpicconwelpic Ontario, CanadaPosts: 600
    I agree on the Rondo reviews, but they should drive all the models and sit in the 3rd seat and that could possibly answer their questions. I find taking digital pictures really helps when I get back home and in a better position to absorb everything.
  • dnatodaydnatoday Posts: 8
    I thank all of you for your well-thought out comments. I happen to really like the Rondo, but my husband (who drives an Audi S6, just so you know where HE is coming from!) wants the more fun to drive options. He is a gearhead and used to race Formula V & go karts. I on the other hand, only learned to drive 9 years ago after our eldest was born & I never went through that sexy race car phase-- the Honda Accord wagon was my first car. So I am not nostalgic for any performance attributes.

    We did drive the 2007 Limited Edition Santa Fe today and man, is it sweet! So nicely appointed. It was moderately raining today and we went both up hills and on the highway. It handled both well-- with the minimal amount of road noise. When my husband drove, I sat in the 3rd row and it was very comfortable for someone who is 5'1". I loved having control over the heat from back there. And in the 2nd row, you can mess with the radio, provide you get the DVD player package.

    The dealer is willing to give us a deal since it is a decked out demo car with about 6,000 miles on it (the dealership owner's daughter drives them for about 6K miles and then gets something new). Even cutting us a deal, it would be about 30,000, which is 8K more than the Kia Rondo all decked out.

    To me it is a no brainer, but the hubbie is trying to get me to the Mitzu dealer tomorrow to drive that Outlander. It is very cute with some excellent audio knobage, but man is that 3rd row seat a piece of crap. The clamshell hatch opening is interesting, but what does it give you beside the ability to park closer to the wall in a garage?

    We are definitely split on the necessary features. I will check in if I get convinced to drive the Mitzu & certainly let you know what I wind up purchasing!
  • medicinemanmedicineman Posts: 135
    Yeah, if your hubby is looking for driving fun, then the Rondo is probably not for him.

    As for the third-row seats in the Rondo, it's definitely not for tall people (I don't think the third row of any vehicle is designed for tall people). I'm 6'1" and I can't sit up straight without my head touching the top, plus there's not enough legroom for me. I can make enough legroom by moving up the second-row seats, but that sacrifices way too much second-row legroom.

    The third row in the Rondo can, however, accommodate people of shorter stature. My Dad, who is around 5'5", sat back there quite comfortably, although he said that he wouldn't want to sit there on a long trip. To make enough legroom for him, I had to move the second-row seat up some, which also meant I moved the front seat up some (this was all done on the passenger side of the vehicle). With everything adjusted just so with my Dad seated in the back, I could sit in the second-row seat comfortably with my knees just touching the back of the front seat. I could also sit in the front seat with my knees almost touching the glovebox.

    So the moral of the story is, have kids or short adults sit in the back and there should be enough room for tall guys in the first two rows. If you have a family that's taller than I am or if they have very long legs (my legs are not that long for someone of my height), you should probably go for a Shaq-mobile. :)
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    Actually, unless you have a monetary limit, I would stay away from a demo. I mean, who really knows if it really was the owner's daughter who drove it. Even if it was, what kind of driver was she? My impression is that most demos have not been babied. :cry:
  • davesuvdavesuv Posts: 149
    Sounds like you are doing your homework. All the vehicles you are looking at are nice. I have the Santa Fe AWD Limited and agree with your assessment. I absolutely love it and find the 3rd row seats to be very usable, even for adults on short trips. If you browse through the prices paid forum, you'll find that you can probably do significantly better than $30K for a used Limited with Premium and Touring packages. Between 27 and 29 seems very doable for a brand new one. I average 20 mpg in mine overall (about 18 city, 24 highway, just like the EPA estimates). Good luck with your decision. Whatever you end up with, it should be a great car.
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 5,188
    Yes, it seats only 6.
    Yes, it is cheaper inside (although has NAV as an option, which we have).

    The big things we liked about the Mazda 5 were
    - drives like a Mazda 3, very sporty and maneuverable (I'm sure much more so than any of the other listed vehicles)
    - we wanted the sliding door, as we park two vehicles together in the garage and the kids aren't exactly careful
    - we found the third row comfort (somewhat of an oxymoron) to be better than most other vehicles with a "tight" third row (as opposed to full sized minivans, etc.)
    - it's a real bargain on price. We're probably going to hand it down to our daughter when she starts driving (she's 14 now)

    On the Mitsubishi mentioned above, consider long term support if you keep your cars a long time. It might be a fine car, but having a fairly rare brand that isn't doing that well (at least in the states) exposes you to some risk and probably faster depreciation.
  • jflorjflor Posts: 20
    "fairly rare brand that isn't doing that well (at least in the states)"

    This is not supported by facts. ON the contrary, Mitsubishi sales here in the states for the first quarter in 2007 have been on the upswing: 19.6% sales change compared to the same period last year.

    The company also made a modest profit in its latest financial statement, a healthy indicator that it is in fact doing fairly well.
  • mpuzachmpuzach Posts: 635
    You should be able to buy a brand new Santa Fe for dealer invoice or slightly less MINUS the $1000 rebate. We just got our brand new, fresh-off-the-truck Limited AWD with XM a week ago and it's absolutely fantastic. We got it for invoice less the rebate and I couldn't be happier with it. Hyundai has done a great job with the 2007 Santa Fe.
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    I think the Mazda5 is an excellent concept, except Mazda kinda missed the boat on a couple of features:

    5-speed automatic; traction & stability control. A V6 would also help. I drove a rental for a few days and found the 4 cyl a bit thrashy went pushed. But I did like the tidy exterior dimensions, the sliding doors, and the seating configuration.
  • driver56driver56 Posts: 408
    I'd certainly admit a sunroof is useless if it's not used. My last vehicle didn't have one, the vehicle previous to that did, and I now have one again. My wife and I both missed it, both of us not liking to feel too closed in when in the car. Good ventilation too. Now I don't always have to drive with the windows down.
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 5,188
    I wrote "fairly rare brand that isn't doing that well (at least in the states".

    You wrote "This is not supported by facts"

    Mitsubishi may be on an upswing, but I don't know how you can call less than one percent of the market in the US "doing that well", regardless of the small improvement. That is what I characterize as a "fairly rare brand".

    "The bleeding has stopped and they've stabilized, and that's good, but they still are in a weak position in the U.S.," said Jim Hossack, vice president of the industry forecaster AutoPacific.

    I'm not anti Mitsubishi, as I recommended one to my mother many years ago (and she bought it). She found that dealers were few and far between and after a number of years it was hard to find many places to get it repaired. Parts often took quite a while to receive.
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 5,188
    You wrote:
    I think the Mazda5 is an excellent concept, except Mazda kinda missed the boat on a couple of features:

    5-speed automatic; traction & stability control. A V6 would also help.

    I agree on the 5 speed. I'm in CA and we don't get ice, until a few years ago we all survived without traction and stabilit control, so those features weren't deal breakers. We didn't want a V6 as we were looking for mileage more than power. Our previous minivan, a 1994 Mercury Villager, had the same horsepower in a heavier package, so it's all relative.
  • dodo2dodo2 Posts: 496
    If he drives an Audi S6 I feel for him. He should be looking elsewhere. Acura MDX comes to my mind as the cheapest, fun to drive, 7 seater, premium SUV.
    Forget about Rondo, Santa Fe and like. On the cheap side of the spectrum, the Outlander is the only choice. Mazda CX7 doesn't have 7 seats, but the CX9 might be worth checking out.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    I wish Mitsu well, I've owned three of their cars. However, compared to the Rondo or (especially) Santa Fe, the Outlander really lacks in interior quality. That's got to count for something.
  • biscuit_xlsbiscuit_xls Posts: 194
    Depends. Personally I hate most fake wood interiors, so the Outlander interior looks much sportier and more appealing to me. The simple and modern design of the Outlander interior was a big reason that I chose it.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Alamogordo, NMPosts: 7,615
    moment and second that emotion on Mitsu interiors. I haven't seen the new Outlander's interior in person but my new '08 Lancer GTS' interior could be described as simple and sporty(and yes, modern)as well. Therefore, I could be pretty easily persuaded that the '07 Mitsu Outlander's interior would look simple and modern. Of these SUV/crossovers I would hone my intense research down to the Outlander and the Rondo.

    You can't really go wrong with a new Kia. ;)

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • chelentanochelentano Posts: 634
    interior in white leather looks pretty good to me:

  • dodo2dodo2 Posts: 496
    The interior/exterior assessment is strictly a personal matter. I like the Outlander's interior design even though I agree that it could use some better quality materials in some places. However, I cannot stand the Santa Fe's interior design, not to mention the fake wood. They may have better materials, but this doesn't do it for me. As far as Rondo is concerned, I cannot even look at it, never mind consider buying it.
    But that's just me. Some obviously like both Rondo and Santa Fe. So I guess, since the looks are subjective, they shouldn't play a roll in any comparison.
  • rick2456rick2456 Posts: 320
    30K? Unless that is in canadian dollars, that is not a good deal. Especially for a demo.
This discussion has been closed.