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2007 Kia Rondo

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San Francisco: With todayís concerns over the twin problems of fuel prices and global warming caused by fuel combustion, many families are wondering what to do. Sport utility vehicles and minivans are not the most fuel-efficient rides, yet if you want to carry five or six (or even seven) people, what choice do you have?

Well, the Rondo is part of a new wave of mini minivans, and at this point, has only one real competitor. The Rondo can carry up to seven passengers, yet is smaller and lighter than the full-sized competition.

I recently got the chance to spend a week with the Rondo. Impressive is the word that comes to mind, but maybe itís time to stop being surprised when Kia delivers the goods. Korean manufacturers are using the original Toyota success model - quality and features for a reasonable price - and appear to have the will and the desire to make it work.

Rondos come in one body style, labeled Midsize S/WGN by the EPA. You can choose from the LX or higher level EX model - the typical naming convention for the auto industry today.

The LX comes well equipped. Mechanical features include a four-speed automatic transmission; front and rear disc brakes with four-wheel, four-channel ABS; and electronic stability control. Appearance and interior goodies include 16-inch alloy wheels, an AM/FM/CD audio system, and power windows and locks. For safety, six airbags are standard, including front, side, and side curtain. A tire pressure monitor is there too.  

The EX upgrades some features and adds more stuff. The automatic transmission gains a gear, the alloy wheels get an extra inch (to stylish 17s), the audio system is enhanced with a CD changer and steering wheel-mounted controls, and the driver enjoys a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The EX also adds worthwhile things like illuminated vanity mirrors and some attractive exterior chrome trim.

Either level comes with a choice of a 162-horsepower four-cylinder or a 182-horsepower V6 engine. Riding on a four-wheel independent suspension with standard front and rear anti-roll bars, the Rondo handles surprisingly well for a 3,500-pound family hauler.

Fuel economy ratings are 21 City, 29 Highway for the four-cylinder and 20/27 for the V6.  The EPAís Green Vehicle Guide gives the Rondo a 6 for both Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas score.

If you live in California or one of the other four states with higher fuel economy standards, you get a 7 on the Air Pollution score, which makes the Rondo an EPA recommended Smartway vehicle - better for the environment than most other cars.

My Volcanic Red tester was an EX with two extra equipment packages plus the third row seat (which fits actual adults!). The Leather Package adds leather seats with heat. The Premium Package provides a sunroof and a 10-speaker, 315-watt Infinity audio system. Even with all this, the price of this loaded family hauler came to $23,495. An LX with the four-cylinder and no extras starts at just $16,995 (including destination charge).

Riding in the Rondo is remarkably quiet, and the interior fittings look like they came out of a Mercedes-Benz or Lexus. If you actually feel them, they are often hard plastic, but Kia got it right, especially at their price point. The panoramic view and clear graphics on the instrument panel add to the overall sense of entire well-being.

Throw in Kiaís Total Protection Plan warranty, and itís hard to imagine why anyone who tested the Rondo and actually needed one wouldnít drive it home immediately. My notebook contains only positive comments - something that doesnít happen that often.  By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

 

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  Rondo is part of a new wave of mini minivans
Topic:  The 2007 Kia Rondo
Word Count:  675
Photo Caption:  The 2007 Kia Rondo
Photo Credits: Kia Rondo Internet Media
Series #:  2007 - 47


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