As the automotive scene evolves, it's getting harder find a neat, tidy category for every vehicle. This may have started with the minivan and sport/utility, but has continued from there with sport/utility trucks and, most recently, the crossover. Yet there's a new category, one that currently only contains two vehicles: the compact minivan-like crossover wagon. For 2007, the Kia Rondo joins the Mazda5 in this exclusive group. The Rondo is based on the Optima sedan platform. Like a minivan, it seats seven (five is the base passenger layout), but, unlike a minivan, it uses standard doors in all four spots instead of two sliding ones along the rear sides.

The minivan/crossover was such a standout at the 2007 Car of the Year event we decided to add one to our long-term fleet. Our topline EX came equipped with the optional 2.7-liter V-6 backed by a five-speed automatic, both from the Optima. (The 162-horse, 2.4-liter I-4 is standard.) For those familiar with Kia's minivan, the interior is incredibly familiar and easy to learn. The EX trim level came with many of the features we wanted, such as power windows/doors, heated side mirrors, foglights, six airbags (including full-length side curtains), four-wheel discs with ABS, and Kia's stellar 10-year/100,000-mile warranty. Our only additions were the Leather Package ($1000), which also comes with heated front seats; the Premium Package ($1200) so we could get the power sunroof and Infinity audio system; and the third-row seat ($500). This brought the total cost to $23,495, an impressive bottom line for a would-be minivan competitor-and a terrific value.

It wasn't long before editors racked up miles on the versatile Rondo. It's seen more than 5000 miles of highway in only two months, visiting Mammoth Lakes and northern Nevada, among other destinations. It's even been to the track, where the V-6 Rondo reached 60 mph in 8.9 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 16.8 at 83.3 mph. Braking was a respectable 132 feet from 60 mph. These numbers hold up well against its main competitor: The 2.3-liter inline-four-powered Mazda5 goes from 0 to 60 in 8.5 seconds, completes the quarter mile in 16.6 at 84.6 mph, and brakes from 60 in 137 feet.

The Rondo could potentially lure buyers who are eyeing minivans and crossovers. We're looking forward to finding out if this vehicle is ready to handle the demanding needs of these shoppers.


Our Car: 2007 Kia Rondo EX
Base Price $20,795
Price as tested $23,495
Vehicle layout Front engine, FWD, 7-pass, 4-door minivan
Engine 2.7L/182-hp/182-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 3705 lb (59/41%)
Wheelbase 106.3 in
Length x width x height 179.0 x 71.7 x 65.0 in
0-60 mph 8.9 sec
Quarter mile 16.8 sec @ 83.3 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 132 ft
EPA city/hwy econ 18/26 mph (2008 specification)
CO2 emissions 0.86 lb/mile
Total mileage 5170
Average fuel economy 21.1
Unresolved problem area None