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Kia Rondo S 2017 review

It's rare to see a Rondo on the road. Spotting one is like finding a commemorative 50-cent coin, only not as exciting. Of the 219,270 cars sold so far this year 59 of them were Rondos.

It's rare to see a Kia Rondo on the road. Spotting one is like when you get a commemorative 50-cent coin in your change, only not as exciting. Yup of the 219,270 cars sold so far this year 59 of them were Rondos. But the more I've driven the base-spec Rondo S - the more I think 219,211 people may have missed out on something quite good.

So what is a Rondo? Is it a van? Is it a hatch? Is it a wagon? Well, Kia calls it a people mover, but while the top-spec Rondo Si has seven seats, the five-seater Rondo S which arrived late in 2016 only has seating for five. Is that enough people to count as a people mover? 

As for rivals to the Rondo S, well there's the Citroen C4 Picasso, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and the BMW 2 Series… aaaaaaand that's about it.

So what is it about the Rondo S that makes me think that many of the 220,000 people may have the wrong choice and bought a SUV when what they really needed was a Rondo, but just never knew it? Oh and what is it about the Rondo that dogs really like? And what's bigger about the five-seater Rondo S than the seven-seater Rondo Si?

Kia Rondo 2017: S
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$8,800

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The Rondo has a mini-people mover shape with a horizontal and high roof, an upright back and a heavily raked windscreen and pointy nose. The headlights look too big for its face but that's kind of cute in a manga-cartoon way.

Take a look at the dimensions for the Rondo S - it's bigger than you might think.  At 4525mm end to end it's 45mm longer than a Kia Sportage mid-sized SUV, and 35mm shorter in height at 1610mm tall. It's 35mm narrower than the Sportage, too, at 1805mm across. 

Clearance is about the same as a regular car at 151mm but the driving position is higher – though not as high as the Sportage's.

2017 Kia Rondo S. 2017 Kia Rondo S.

Inside the dashboard and steering wheel are low, the windscreen is enormous and those A-pillars either side of it are long.

On the outside you can tell a Rondo S from the top spec Rondo Si by the wheels – the S has plastic hubcaps and the Si has alloys. You can spot a Rondo S from the inside by the tiny media screen and the chunky plastic steering wheel – the Si gets a bigger screen and sleeker looking wheel.

The cabin is stylish with the brushed aluminium look trim and dark materials. The CarsGuide photographer told me he liked its '80s retro look – thing is I'm pretty sure the designers weren't trying to go for an ironic retro feel.

The cabin is stylish with the brushed aluminium look trim. The cabin is stylish with the brushed aluminium look trim.

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

The Rondo has enormous rear doors that are light and easy to swing open and when they do you have a wide and tall entrance which makes getting in and out easy. That's good news if you're not as agile or young as you used to be or if you're a parent putting kids into car seats. I find I almost double over when putting my toddler into his car seat in small cars, but the Rondo's seat height is elevated enough that there's less of a bend needed. The step to get in is low, too.

The Rondo has more boot capacity than the Sportage. The Rondo has more boot capacity than the Sportage.

The second row is made up for three individual seats rather than a single bench seat. The legroom in all of them is excellent and even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with two finger-gap between my knees and the seatback.

Headroom is outstanding and even with my big hair I still have about 20cm of clearance.

The Rondo was already so impressively practical and roomy that it could have been terrible to drive and it still would be worth buying.

The cargo volume of the Rondo S is 536 litres, and that's 44 litres more than the boot space in the seven-seater Rondo Si which loses luggage capacity because of the foldable third row seats and 130 litres more than the Sportage's boot.

The cargo volume of the Rondo S is 536 litres. The cargo volume of the Rondo S is 536 litres.

Under the boot floor is like a giant bento box of storage compartments with three equal-sized large rectangular areas big enough for handbags, shoes and laptops, a smaller shoe boxed-sized area and a tiny hidey hole big enough for my phone. Also in the boot on the right-hand side wheel are elasticised straps for – picnic blankets or whatever else you don't want flapping about in there.

There's shoe-boxed sized storage under the floor in the second row, on both sides, too.

The centre seat in the back folds flat and being hard-backed can act as a table, it also has three cup holders moulded into it. There's another two cup holders up front and giant bottle holders in all doors.

The Rondo is just as practical as many SUVs if not more so.

And here's a random Rondo fact for you – the Rondo is pretty popular with dog owners because the height of the roof means their hounds can stand up and turn around. Yup dogs love the Rondo.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The Rondo S lists for $26,990. The $40,990 Citroen C4 Picasso is the closest in price to the Rondo S, while the Mercedes-Benz B180 is $42,400 and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer starts at $49,100.

It has to be said, the Rondo S isn't a prestigious as those rivals and the standard features aren't as extravagant. Still the basics are covered with a 4.3-inch touch screen with reversing camera, rear parking sensors, six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, CD player, cloth seats, auto headlights, tinted glass, cruise control, and air conditioning with vents in the second row.

That screen is pretty small – like business card small, and that means the image for the reversing camera is a bit hard to make out at times.

The Rondo S is still good value though at this price.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   6/10

There's one engine in in the Rondo range – it's a 122kW/213Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and it comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. A manual gearbox isn't available.

GDI - Gasoline Direct Injection - not a diesel. GDI - Gasoline Direct Injection - not a diesel.

You may hear the engine called a GDI, don't let then name throw you – it's not a diesel. The acronym stands for Gasoline Direct Injection.

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

Kia says the Rondo's average combined fuel consumption is 7.9L/100km or 10.8L/100km if you're keeping it urban. Our test vehicle was thirstier and was driving at a rate of 10.1L/100km according to the trip computer over a week of highway and urban use, while our city commuting saw usage jump to 17.4L/100km.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

You know what? The Rondo was already so impressively practical and roomy that it could have been terrible to drive and it still would be worth buying, but its on-road performance was pretty impressive.

Look, the brakes can be a bit bitey, acceleration on take-off is sharp and then the engine seems to run out of oomph and just get noisier at higher speeds, but those are my only real complaints, because the ride is composed and comfortable, the steering feels smooth and light, while the handling is impressive. I took the Rondo through the same test loop as all my test cars and it performed better than many in this price range.

Being lower to the ground gives the Rondo better dynamics than many SUVs, too. Corners that cause a good degree of body roll and tyre chirp in a Sportage or RAV4 saw the Rondo coast through perfectly stable and unfussed.

The A-pillars do obstruct visibility and at one set of traffic lights, the only way I knew I had a green arrow was because the bloke behind me was leaning on his horn. But there are small port-hole windows integrated into the A-pillars that help with visibility.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

7 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   6/10

The Rondo has the maximum five-star ANCAP rating. There's nothing in the way of advanced safety equipment – that means no AEB, blindspot or rear cross traffic warning. But there is the expected traction and stability control, plus ABS.

In the second row you'll find three top tether anchor points and two ISOFIX points for child seats.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   10/10

The Rondo is covered by Kia's seven year/unlimited kilometre warranty. There's capped price servicing for seven years, too. Servicing is recommended every 12 months or 15,000km and is capped at $299 for the first service, $375 for the second, $361 for the third, $398 for the fourth, $336 for the fifth, $470 for the sixth and $357 for the seventh.


If you're thinking of getting an SUV because you like to sit a little higher up and want a car with plenty of room and a big boot, but don't head off-road ever, then you may be better off in a Rondo S which drives more like a car and has much of the benefits of an SUV.

Pricing guides

Based on 8 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

S 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $8,800 – 12,320 2017 Kia Rondo 2017 S Pricing and Specs
Si 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $13,530 – 17,820 2017 Kia Rondo 2017 Si Pricing and Specs
SI (nav) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $12,760 – 17,050 2017 Kia Rondo 2017 SI (nav) Pricing and Specs
Price and features8
Under the bonnet6
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist


Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on 6 car listings in the last 6 months

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