2011 Kia Rondo EX-V6
2011 Kia Rondo EX-V6. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

Photo Gallery:
2011 Kia Rondo

What’s the secret behind buying an economical car? Price is certainly a factor, but so is functionality. The most economical car may well be the one that does what’s needed of it without overkill. And that brings me to the 2011 Kia Rondo.

Depending on your needs, it can potentially work as a car, a minivan or compact SUV, thanks to its height, car-like driving characteristics and an available third row for seating up to seven passengers. It hasn’t had a major overhaul since its introduction for 2007, but don’t let that stop you from putting it on your test-drive list. It isn’t the most sophisticated model out there, but it’s definitely one of the most useful.

No doubt due to American buyers’ dislike of hatchbacks, it’s no longer offered in the U.S. market. In Canada, the 2011 model is on sale now, and Kia Canada says that it will continue into the 2012 model year. It’s sold in a variety of markets worldwide where it’s also known as the Carens or, in Australia, as the Rondo 7. It’s based on the platform of the Kia Magentis sedan (which now morphs into the Kia Optima in Canada for 2011).

2011 Kia Rondo EX-V6
2011 Kia Rondo EX-V6
2011 Kia Rondo EX-V6. Click image to enlarge

Pricing starts at $19,995 for a 2.4-litre four-cylinder with four-speed automatic – you’ll have to add another $1,000 if you want air conditioning on that, and I sure wish automakers would get over their habit of dropping refrigeration in order to advertise below the magical twenty-grand number, given how few people buy a car without air these days – but my tester used a 2.7-litre V6, mated exclusively to a five-speed automatic. The four-cylinder comes in LX or EX trim, while the V6 starts in EX trim, which is the way I drove it, starting at $23,895. The four-cylinder LX is strictly a five-seater, but in EX trim, both the four-cylinder and V6 can be optioned to a third row of seats for an additional $1,000. The V6 can also be taken higher, to the EX Premium trim line for $25,095, and to the Luxury, which comes only with seven seats, at $27,195, or $28,195 with a navigation system.

All models come with the expected safety items, including anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, six airbags and active front head restraints, along with power mirrors, windows and locks, variable intermittent wipers, Bluetooth, and music player input via an auxiliary jack or USB port. Added onto the four-cylinder at the EX level, and on all V6 models, is a chrome grille, fog lights, heated mirrors, an electric windshield strip for deicing the wipers, heated seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, illuminated vanity mirrors and keyless entry. Moving up into the Premium and Luxury levels adds such items as a sunroof, leather seats, automatic climate control, rearview camera, power driver’s seat and satellite radio.

Naturally, all models come with Kia’s extensive warranty, which covers pretty much everything for five years or 100,000 km, with one year or 20,000 km on wear items such as wiper blades, light bulbs and brake pads. Roadside assistance also remains in place for the full 5/100 warranty period.

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