Kia dropped the seven-seat Rondo MPV from the Australian market back in 2019, but is this the model to replace it?
The Kia Carens – also called Rondo in some countries, including Australia – has just been uncovered in fourth-generation guise in India.
But those hoping for a smaller version of the cool Kia Carnival will be disappointed. This version is designed and built in India for the Indian market and a Kia Australia spokesperson confirmed there are no plans to bring it here.
The new version adopts Kia’s ‘Opposites United’ design philosophy, and, like the Carnival, features SUV-like styling flourishes and a higher ride height in a bid to make it look less like a people mover.
There’s a clear family resemblance to models like the new Sportage and the US-market Soul thanks to the head and tail-light cluster and new take on the tiger nose grille.
Inside, the seating in all three rows is inspired by airplane seats, according to Kia, and the second-row seats have a power tumble function to make it easier to get in and out of the third row.
Those second-row seats can recline and slide, while the third-row pew can be lowered into the boot floor to maximise cargo space. There’s also tray on the seat backs, cooled cupholders, retractable cupholders and more.
The dash features a wide and high-set gloss black panel that’s adjacent to the 10.25-inch Kia Connect touchscreen that’s capable of over-the-air updates.
The Rondo tall-boy hatch was one of Kia’s slowest sellers and was dropped from its line-up around the time Kia axed another quirky model – the Soul – as well as the Optimasedan.
Kia actually sold all three generations of the Rondo in Australia from 2000 on – although the first one carried the Carens moniker – but the spacious hatchback had few direct competitors and buyers largely kept their distance.