ON THE ROAD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

KIA doesn’t make ex­cit­ing cars. It’s far bet­ter at build­ing the prac­ti­cal and af­ford­able ones. Just look at the Rondo. It rep­re­sents good, cheap trans­port for a fam­ily of four or five, who some­times need to bring along a cou­ple of ex­tra kids.

Though Kia has made the most of the avail­able space, the Rondo re­ally isn’t big enough to be used as a per­ma­nent seven-seater. If you need that much space you had bet­ter con­sider the Car­ni­val, or the even larger Grand Car­ni­val.

With a start­ing price of $24,990, the LX is a good al­ter­na­tive to larger used peo­ple­movers or seven-seat cross­over wag­ons and comes with a big new-car war­ranty.

The third seat row is good for smaller kids and maybe young teens. It helps that the sec­ond row of seats can be slid back or for­ward if you need to ac­com­mo­date larger kids in the back.

There is am­ple head­room in all three rows, un­less you have had quite a growth spurt.

With all three rows in use there is room for only a cou­ple of bags of shop­ping, but you can fold down ei­ther of the third-row seats if you need to carry four kids and some cargo.

Many driv­ers are likely to ap­pre­ci­ate the high seat­ing po­si­tion in the Rondo, which is sim­i­lar to that of other peo­ple movers and cross­over wag­ons.

The en­gine is ac­tu­ally pretty perky with a de­cent amount of pull off the line.

Though it is smooth and quiet at idle, it is rough un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially above 4000 revs.

The au­to­matic is av­er­age and its changes are fairly slow, but Kia has done a good job with the sus­pen­sion set-up.

The Rondo is a com­fort­able car to ride in and the sus­pen­sion feels nice and com­pli­ant and soaks up most of the bumps with lit­tle fuss.

The steer­ing is light for low-speed ma­noeu­vres, but gives you lit­tle feel or feed­back and isn’t much fun on wind­ing coun­try roads.

You soon no­tice a high level of tyre rum­ble and road noise, es­pe­cially if you ven­ture off the free­ways and on to coarse-chip B-roads.

On any high­way you will miss cruise con­trol, which some­what amaz­ingly is avail- able on none of the Rondo mod­els, not even the loaded range-top­per.

At night, the low beam is poor and it feels as if you are rush­ing head­long into dark­ness un­til you are able to hit the high beams.

The in­te­rior is plain, but ev­ery­thing is well laid out and is all you would ex­pect at this price point.

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