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Long Term Evaluation Vehicle – KIA Rondo7 Limited

Model Tested:

  • 2008 KIA Rondo7 EX Limited 2.0-litre automatic wagon – $31,990 (RRP)

– by Anthony Crawford

KIA are a very confident manufacturer these days for not only do they offer a comprehensive five year unlimited kilometre warranty for private users, but they’ve now also thrown CarAdvice the keys to a Rondo7 Limited for a few months, just to see how the family wagon will cope at the hands of a road tester and his family in the longer term.

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The long term test involves myself, my wife and two kids using the Rondo7 as our family chariot for the next three or four months, and reporting back every ten days or so, on just how the car is performing as a family vehicle as well as our likes and dislikes.

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It won’t just be driven around suburbia either. The annual family trek up to the Gold Coast (we’re based in Sydney) is also part of the plan later this year, and we’ll be sure to provide you with a two-part report on that journey, too.

For those of you who haven’t thought much of KIA branded cars in the past, be assured that the new Rondo7 is at the very least, an interesting bit of kit.

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As the name suggests, it’s a proper seven seater, which offers a wealth of versatility across all three trim levels. The EX Limited that we’re driving is the top spec model and comes fully loaded with leather trim, electric sunroof (tilt and slide), climate control air-conditioning, remote audio controls (steering wheel mounted), 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails (with cross bars) and a host of other conveniences.

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Of course you don’t need to spend $31,990 to get into Rondo. In fact, just $24,990 plus on-road costs, will see you drive away in the LX model with five-speed manual or $26,990 plus on roads for the four-speed automatic. In the middle of the model range is the EX for $28,990 plus on-road costs with the four-speed auto as standard kit.

Safety is high on the agenda at KIA too, with all grades fitted with TCS (Traction Control System), ESP (Electronic Stability Program) and ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) with EBD (Electronic Brake-Force Distribution). Dual front SRS airbags are also standard fitment on the base model LX and EX Rondo7 with the EX Limited adding side front SRS airbags and full-length curtain SRS airbags for complete protection.

An “Urban Recreational Vehicle” is how KIA describe the curious five door hatch, and they just might be on to something.

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I know we’re only a family of four, but our six year old does a million different sports and the seventeen year old and her girlfriends think of us as their personal taxi service, so already, the seven seater has a clear advantage in our household.

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Not only that, but a garage sale caught my eye last week, and I picked up a bargain in a huge solid wood bookcase, standing 2.1 by 1.2 metres wide, the Rondo7 took it on without a hitch.

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It was too wide to squeeze through the rear tailgate of the Rondo but then, that’s what adjustable roof racks are for. Within minutes and a few well-secured tie-downs, my bookcase was back home and installed in the office.

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Both the second and third row seats fold flat, transforming the Rondo7 into a veritable van with huge load space, or you can split fold both rows for carrying a combination of kids and surfboards if that’s your need.

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Oh, and if you need to carry adults in the third row, then just slide the second row forward a little for extra leg room back there!

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I counted twenty-three separate storage compartments throughout the cabin and I’m certain to have missed a few, such is abundance of these clever little nook and cranny spaces in the Rondo7.

The driving position is higher than a regular car, which is a plus according to my wife, and both second and third row seating is graduated higher (stadium style), so that all passengers have forward vision instead of looking at a head restraint, especially good for kids who suffer from car sickness.

Access to the third row is also a breeze, given the wide aperture of the rear doors, meaning that kids or adults alike, can simply slide the second row forward for unencumbered entry, too easy.

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While there is a stack of room inside the Rondo7’s cabin, it doesn’t look that large from an exterior point of view, if anything, it looks small and manageable. Nonetheless, I plan on installing a set of optional rear sensors in the coming week, just to make reverse parking fail safe.

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It’s a comfortable car both to drive and be a passenger in with driver and front passenger seats well bolstered all round. It’s the same in both the second and third rows – I did a quick stint in each and drew no complaints.

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My other half says that both the HVAC and audio controls are simple and intuitive and whilst I concur, I found the auxiliary input inside the centre console box, a little fiddly when connecting my iPod.

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No such nit picking when it comes to the quality of the standard audio system though. I dialed up some volume on a track with some heavy bass, and there was zero distortion and an excellent tone.

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No one looking to buy a seven seat “Urban Recreational Vehicle” is going to be too interested in a track day at Oran Park, but by the same token you wouldn’t want a single kilowatt or newton metre less than what this engine produces – and that’s not a lot.

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Off the line starts from lights and intersections aren’t a problem, the Rondo leaps forward from any stationary point and within no time you are doing the speed limit.

It’s a slightly different story when you’re climbing a steep incline, the 106kW @ 6000rpm and 189Nm @ 4250rpm means that you need to work the Rondo7 hard when negotiating hilly terrain. “It labours a little on hills” was the comment from other half whom I should add, thinks the speed limits imposed in NSW are both safe and proper!

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In the end, it’s not much of a gripe in a versatile vehicle such as the Rondo7, as you can always use the “tiptronic-style” shift to move things along.

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Whilst we haven’t done any freeway or long distance trips as yet, we have gone through two 55-litre tanks of 91RON unleaded since October 24. That’s quite good actually, we’ve averaged 369kms per tank with heavy loads on all journeys and lots of hills to climb.

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After just two weeks living with the Rondo7, and the convenience this vehicle offers, I’m not sure this family can live without it. We’ll have another brief report on how the Rondo7 is traveling in another ten days or so.

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For a full review of the Rondo7, click here.




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