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Review: 2017 Kia Rondo S

About Mark

Mark Holgate is the driving force behind Exhaust Notes Australia, one of this country's premier automotive websites, with in excess of 1 million visits every year, and literally hundreds of car reviews and motoring stories.

With more than 20 years experience as a journalist, and five years as a professional blogger, he brings a wealth of knowledge about cars, bikes and everything in between.

Need a vehicle with heaps of room for the sporting gear, shopping or weekend getaways? Come take the Kia Rondo S for a spin.

It's been around for a while now, with the first incarnation of the Kia Rondo going all the way back to 2007. It’s not always been the crowd favourite when it comes to compact people movers, but this time, it’s different.

New look Rondo S gains some style.

New look Rondo S gains some style

The 2017 edition of the Kia Rondo is extremely well put together and feels more expensive than the reasonable $30,799 price tag would suggest. We took the S, the base model, out for a spin over a week and found plenty of value on offer.

So let’s climb inside to start with. The seats are comfortable and they hold you well. The driving position is also quite comfortable, and if we had to call one thing out, the driver’s seat could use some lumbar support to really make it brilliant.

The dash set up is great, with everything in easy reach. The Rondo S has some pretty nice standard inclusions such as Bluetooth, reversing camera and reversing sensors, plus, a multi-function infotainment system and a great six-speaker sound system.

Cruise-control is also standard, as well as a speed limiter that can be set so the vehicle won’t exceed the set limit. A very handy feature in some situations. On the whole, the interior is of a high quality, and even the floor mats feel more expensive than they are.

There is a heap of room in the back for all that sporting gear, shopping or weekend getaways, even with the back seats in use. There is plenty of leg and head room throughout and the rear seats also recline a little, so weekends away with friends or family are very comfortable.

It’s great for families looking for a comfortable, economical and useful everyday drive. If you need some extra space to move things, the rear seats fold flat, too, providing a ridiculous amount of space. The next model up, the Si, has a third row of seats to allow it to be a genuine seven-seater.

The downside to the Si is these seats are really only good for smaller kids, because there isn’t a lot of leg room. This also reduces the cargo space significantly.

Under the hood, the engine in this compact people mover is pretty punchy for a 2.0-litre direct injection engine that doesn’t have a turbo bolted on. It can sit comfortably on highway speeds, as well as being smooth and easy to get around in on city streets.

Paired with the excellent six-speed auto transmission, it was well behaved throughout our rigorous testing, quiet and comfortable to drive. The 122kW power plant will get you moving and it’s quite economical as well, at 7.9L/100km in varying conditions. With a 15,000km service interval, it is an easy vehicle to live with, too.

We did find the brakes on this vehicle were a little bitey and on more than one occasion, it felt like the driver overreacted, even though this was not the case. Visibility is excellent and overall, it really just feels like a mid-sized car, rather than a people mover. 

Even today, not everyone is a fan of the exterior design of the Rondo, which now looks more like a mini version of the Carnival than ever before. But you can’t please all the people all the time and quite frankly, we liked it.

The external build quality is great and the doors close with a satisfying ‘thunk’, which means it doesn’t feel cheap or nasty. It has some nice features, including heated exterior mirrors, great for those dewy mornings - and it’s these little things that get it across the line for us.

The external headlights are automatic or manual and will “look” around the corner when you turn the steering wheel. Our test vehicle was fitted with steel rims, but the Si version comes standard with alloys.

It comes in a number of colours including Clear White (our test vehicle), Cherry Black, Bright Silver, Titanium Silver, Newport Blue and Inferno Red. It also comes with Kia’s market-leading seven-year warranty.

All in all, it’s a great family car that’s very easy to drive. We reckon that the Rondo S would definitely suit a young family that needs a little extra space and doesn’t want to spend a heap of money. Let’s face it, if you need more room, for an extra $5000 you can upgrade to the seven-seat Rondo Si.

Our test vehicle was provided by Kia Australia. To find out more about the 2017 Kia Rondo S, your local Kia dealer.

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