Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the 2013 Kia Rondo.
If you don’t remember the old Kia Rondo don’t feel bad, it was anything but great and anything but a big sales success in Australia.
Seeing an opportunity to find buyers in the ever growing small people-mover segment Kia has given the Rondo a complete make-over and the model is now a very impressive offering.
The seven-seater Rondo range starts at $29,990, if you want a diesel Rondo the entry-level offering starts at $32,490, while the upper-spec SLi diesel is a combo that will set you back from $36,490.
I’m pleased to say I was really impressed by the new offering.
On the road the diesel engine gives you 100kW and 320Nm and this delivers a more than reasonable amount of acceleration and low-down grunt.
The engine is also very quiet (especially for a diesel) and matched with a smooth six-speed auto transmission the Rondo delivers a really enjoyable drive.
Fuel economy is also excellent, I managed 5.9L/100km on a long highway drive, around town expect to use a touch over 7.0L/100km and the official claimed combined figure is a very realistic 6.4L/100km.
To complement the drive-train the Rondo also boasts Flex-Steer, which gives you the ability to control steering weight and feel and despite the SLi coming with low-profile 45 series tyres on the standard 17” alloys I thought the ride was super impressive.
Handling is also quite good for a small people-mover, though in strong winds on the freeway the Rondo does get pushed around a little.
Inside the cabin legroom front and back is good, though the third row of seats probably only provides comfortable and adequate space for children.
The Kia designers have added some special little touches inside the cabin, including air-plane style fold-out tray tables and underfloor storage areas.
Rear seat passengers also get air-conditioning vents and a power outlet.
Up front the dashboard is nicely laid-out with clear gauges and a really attractive and functional driver info screen.
The centre touch-screen is also easy to use and attractive, though when the screen is displaying the vision from the reversing camera it is probably a little small.
The seats in the Rondo are firm but comfortable; the driver gets electric adjustment and even a special under thigh support adjustment which is a really nice touch.
Disappointingly though in the SLi grade Rondo Kia hasn’t given front row seats either heating or ventilation.
Speaking of seats, the rear two rows fold down flat giving Rondo owner’s stacks of cargo carrying capacity.
From the driver’s seat visibility is affected by the large sweeping A pillars and rear ¾ visibility to the left is also a little obscured, other than that the seating position and feel is impressive.
I was also pleased to see that Kia has replaced the clunky parking brake set-up used in the old model with a conventional centre console hand operated brake.
The SLi Rondo also offers an ultra-impressive list of standard features including auto headlights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, cruise control and tilt and reach steering adjustment.
It’s also full marks on the safety front with the Rondo boasting a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Summing it up, the new Rondo looks great, drives well, is comfortable, safe and offers excellent value for money.
The diesel engine is also very impressive and overall I have to say the new Rondo is one of the best new vehicles of 2013 – full marks!
NUTS and BOLTS – 2013 Kia Rondo SLi diesel
Engine: 1.7 litre turbo diesel delivering 100kW and 320Nm
Transmission: Six speed automatic
Warranty: Five years
Safety: Five stars
Price: from $29,990, SLi diesel (as tested) from $36,490.