click on the above image to view additional pics of the 2007 Kia Rondo EX We just gave back the keys to a vehicle that would have shamed my old Camaro RS in more than just number of usable seats. It also had 12 more horses from two fewer cylinders, drank a little less gas, had a sunroof that probably won't leak until well after the 10 year warranty runs out and would carry as many as seven full-grown friends. Kia's new Rondo is classified as a compact MPV in Europe, where it's been sold as the Carens since 2003. Add 17" wheels and that 182 hp V6, and Uncle Sam calls it a midsize wagon. Kia, of course, wants you to call it a crossover. Most shoppers will see it as a stylish, comfortable, affordable people-mover. Just don't call it a minivan. %Gallery-2248% Maybe all that name calling is what gave the Rondo somewhat of a personality disorder, because it's not really sure what it is either. With seven seats, a family-attractive price, durable upholstery and room for baby junk in the trunk, it might be the perfect kid-carrier. But with those 17-inch chrome wheels; that muscular 182-horsepower V6; a 10-speaker, subwoofered, Infinity stereo and a manumatic 5-speed, it could easily be a sport sedan. Our tester for 14 days was a black-cherry Rondo EX with fog lights, roof rails, a classy chrome rub strip below the doors, chrome door handles and grille inserts and big shiny Kia logos on both snout and tail. Inside it had a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, power sunroof and cubby holes galore. According to the sticker, a real buyer would have to part with $22,495 including $600 in delivery charges and $500 for the third-row option to own this Rondo. Our first impression of the Kia after seeing it sitting next to a PT Cruiser was how much longer, wider and taller the Korean is than we expected. It's a fairly large vehicle, almost a foot longer than the PT, four inches taller and wider, on a wheelbase only three inches longer than the Chrysler. Those dimensions are all within a few inches of Rondo's real competition, the Mazda 5. The interior pieces look nice and fit together well, but feel cheap and hard. The Rondo had fewer than 6,000 miles on it but the steering column was already badly scratched from misaligned keys. Cupholders and storage bins were numerous and lined with rubber pads, which is nice. Not nice is that those liners won't come out, making common baby spills nasty to clean up. My wife liked the innovative addition of the bag hook on the passenger side, but wished our tester had the dealer-installed cargo net in back. One family member likened the seats' "double raschel" fabric to dirt-collecting door mats, a concern we have as well. The upholstery felt durable and will probably hold up well to wear, but those tiny little indentations are destined to be filled …
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|MPG||21 City / 29 Hwy|
|Power||162 @ 5800 rpm|
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