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Kia Rondo 2012 Review

It’s not the belle of the ball but the Rondo still tries.

Having been cramped into several test car third rows, we approached the seven-seater Kia Rondo with fear for our legs. The Rondo doesn’t look any bigger than a normal wagon from the outside, so it couldn’t possibly fit seven people in comfort, right?

So after (easily) flipping down the middle row, sliding it forward on (smooth) tracks, and climbing in back, we flinched - waiting for that painful moment when the second row is smashed back into our knees.

It didn’t come. We blinked in surprise, happily moved our legs, and decided the Rondo deserves recognition as a roomy people mover.


The Kia Rondo 7 SLi sports a $31,390 price tag, bringing ABS, ESC, climate control air-conditioning, 17 inch alloy wheels, 6 way driver’s seat with lumbar support, iPod compatibility, active front headrests, leather seats, muti-function steering wheel with volume control and Bluetooth, heated electric outside mirrors, anti-theft immobiliser, battery saver, and roof rails.


Once it gets in gear, the 2.0 L petrol engine Rondo has enough strength to take a full load uphill with 106kW of power and 189Nm of torque.

Unfortunately getting the right gear takes a while as the transmission lets you down and leaves you wondering why there isn’t a fifth gear in this automatic, front-wheel drive wagon.  

However it can carry a lot of stuff without fuel penalty. A weekend trip loaded with three adults, two surfboards, snorkel gear, luggage, and food delivered 9.1L/100km – not far off the official figure of 8.6L/10km.


It’s not the belle of the ball but the Rondo still tries. While wagons aren’t known for their good looks, the chrome trim, ‘Schreyer’ grille, and the happy avoidance of the back-heavy look of other wagons makes the Rondo a belle in its own right. 

Internally it steps it up a notch as the leather interior gives you a suave welcome - unexpected in typically drab people movers. Large windows give plenty of visibility; making parking a breeze and give the wagon an airy feel.

Storage is accessible and even the third row hasn’t been forgotten with cupholders and side storage conveniently located. The glove box and two air vents give the front passenger dash area the face of a depressed robot, but the vents in back keep the kids cool and content.

As we found, the third row is roomier than you’d expect, since the second row seats can be locked forward or back, giving more legroom to either row as required. This flexibility lends the Rondo to the needs and growth spurts of an increasing family, or the variable leg lengths of a group of friends.

It is easier to get to the third row via the driver side with only one seat needing to be flipped down for access. However, if you’re stuck on a busy road and need to get the kids in you can still slide up and get over the two seats on the passenger side with little extra effort.

With the third row stored there is plenty of space in the boot, but when the seats are up luggage space is a problem. So a full load of both people and cargo is going to be tricky.


Driver and front passenger, curtain, and front side SRS airbags help the Rondo reach its four-star ANCAP rating. Front seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters, front and rear side door impact beams, active front headrests, and child-proof rear door locks keep you and your six passengers feeling secure on the road.


“No, no, little Rondo… try again. Yes, that’s right. When we’re on the motorway we should be in fourth gear - not second.” The automatic hunts for the right gear like a teenager learning manual. Our ride was constantly interrupted as we felt required to encourage the Rondo to find the correct gear. Seeing as it only has four, it shouldn’t be that hard.

If you’re looking for a vehicle that gives you plenty of pep on the motorway the Rondo will leave you disappointed. But if you’re driving family around city streets, the Rondo is great.

Aside from the gearchanges, in nearly every other respect - steering, road grip and braking – the Rondo stepped up to the plate just fine. We just couldn’t get over the transmission. With flawless gearshifts in Kia’s Sportage, we know Kia can make a smooth automatic. It’d just be great to see it in the Rondo.


If you’re looking for a people mover and don’t mind a rough transmission, the seven-seater Rondo SLi will get you around in surprising comfort.

Kia Rondo 7 SLI

Price: from $31,390
Warranty: 5 years, unlimited kms
Economy: 8.6l/100km; 206g/km CO2
Safety Equipment: six airbags, ABS, EBD
Crash rating: four stars
Engine: 4 cylinder, 2.0 litre
Outputs: 106kW/189Nm
Transmission: four-speed Sports Automatic
Dimensions: 4545mm (L); 1800mm (W); 1650mm (H); 2700mm (WB)
Weight: 1598kg
Tyre: Size 225/50 R17. Alloy

Pricing guides

Based on third party pricing data
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Range and Specs

Si 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $5,300 – 8,250 2012 Kia Rondo 2012 Si Pricing and Specs
SLi 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $7,700 – 11,990 2012 Kia Rondo 2012 SLi Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


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