The Kia Rondo is a mini-minivan with a maximum amount of automotive goodies at a minimum price tag. That makes for a really, really different small car.
Kia is also pushing Rondo as a taxicab – all decked out with a yellow paint job. Think of it as a modern day Checker, the Kalamazoo, MI-taxi standby of yore that was also sold in civilian garb.
The non-yellow Rondo sports inoffensive five-door hatchback styling with a long list of features.
The EX has:
•Power rack and pinion steering.
•Four wheel disc brakes with anti-locking.
•Power windows and doors.
•Heated side mirrors.
•Dual vanity mirrors.
•Dual front airbags; side curtain airbags; and side airbags.
•10 year/100,000 mile limited power-train warranty.
•Optional power sunroof.
Models start at the mid-$16,000s and run to $23,000 and change for the LX model. The sunroof option brings the list price to $20,995 from the $19,195 base.
The 2.4L four-cylinder engine pushes out a modest 162 horsepower and takes its time getting to 60 mph – around 11 seconds.
The optional 2.7L V-6 provides snappier acceleration by a couple of seconds, thanks to its 182 horses, and fuel economy drops just slightly from the four banger's 21/29 to 20/27 mpg. The V-6's showing is due partly to a five-speed automatic transmission versus the four speed of the four cylinder.
|Kia Rondo EX
•Engines: 2.4L I-4; 2.7L V-6
•Dimensions: 106.3" wheelbase; 179" length
•Base price: $19,195; As tested $20,995
•Fuel economy: 21/29 mpg
So the V-6 is a bit more fun to drive. That's not saying a whole lot, though. Steering on the four cylinder feels rubbery and takes a fair amount of effort. The Rondo wants to run wide on turns and commendably there's electronic stability control to curb our limited enthusiasm.
The firm ride still lets the Rondo lean a lot on curves. Small bumps are felt. But, where Rondo excels is negotiating the mean streets of suburbia and zipping into tight parking spaces at the mall.
Side mirrors are big enough. The transmission lever is housed in a center pod. The four-spoke leather wrapped wheel contains cruise and audio controls.
Seats feel a bit hard and are only slightly bolstered. There's lots of room in back even with the optional seven-passenger seating. That comes at the expense of front seat room. Rear doors are larger than the front doors for easier access to the back.
Kia says there is 35 cubic feet of cargo volume in two-row models with the second row folded. That drops to 31.7 cubic feet in third row setups when all are folded. The difference? Storage bins and cupholders for the third-row occupants.
Even mini minivans don't dare skimp on cupholders.