Kia’s Rondo came around in 2007 to challenge the Mazda5 in what looked to be a burgeoning market for small vans and tall wagons that eventually saw Chevrolet get involved with its short-live Orlando wagon. But since then, interest in this practical little vehicles has waned, to the point that Mazda no longer sells the Mazda5 in the U.S., and Kia dropped the Rondo there after the 2016 model year.
For better or worse, you can blame the ever-increasing popularity of compact and subcompact crossovers for that. Despite that challenge, the Rondo is still around, following a 2014 redesign that took it into its second generation.
Little has changed since then, but 2017 brings a number of small updates to trim level availability that leaves Rondo with just one seven-seat option, in the LX+ model. There’s also a new front end styling and front and rear bumpers, new wheel designs, updated interior trims and seat fabric patterns, and a new blind spot detection system in the EX Premium model.
Last year’s manual transmission is gone, so the line starts with an L trim with six-speed automatic. From there, the trim walk finds LX (which can be optioned with seven seats), EX, EX Premium and EX Luxury models. Notably, navigation, which used to be an option in the EX Luxury is now part of the EX Premium package, at just under $30,000.
Power comes from a 2.0L four-cylinder engine making 164 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque; our main criticism of the Rondo is we think it underpowered; to us, the bigger, stronger 2.4L engine used in the Optima family sedan would be a better fit. As it is, fuel consumption estimates are 9.9/7.6 L/100 km (city/highway), but the overworked 2.0L has a hard time living up to those figures.
The L model comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels with covers, windshield wiper de-icer, heated seats, cloth upholstery, air conditioning, height-adjustable driver’s seat, power door locks, windows and heated side mirrors, keyless entry, tilt-and-telescopic steering, Bluetooth, six-speaker stereo and a trip computer.
LX trim adds alloy wheels, fog lights, backup sensor, leather-trimmed shifter and steering wheel and automatic headlights. As mentioned up top, this trim is the only one that can be optioned with seven seats.
EX is where the Rondo takes on some luxury items. It gets 17-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, chrome exterior trim, backup camera with 4.3-inch display audio system, leather seats, power driver’s seat with extendable leg cushion, heated steering wheel, automatic climate control, rear door sunshades, passive keyless entry and auto-dimming rearview mirror.
EX Premium gets geated rear seats, blind spot detection, navigation and a ventilated driver’s seat.
Finally, EX Luxury gets 18-inch wheels, LED taillights, HID headlights, headlight washers, electric parking brake and front and rear parking sensors.
Prices range from $23,095 to $32,095.
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