Nothing so far as it is new.
With next child on the way, we needed a larger family vehicle and quickly realized that at $32K+ we will not be purchasing either a Toyota or a Honda.
My budget was $350 a month and on that basis there were three contenders: Chevy Uplander $23K base, Dodge Journey $19.5K and the Kia Rondo $23.8K.
I visited a Chevy dealership where I was shown a dinosaur of a vehicle offering seats that could not be folded into the floor, but could apparently be removed by one person, a feat that the dealer refused to perform citing his bad back. Given the size and weight of the seats, I am not surprised at all with his refusal or the back problem.
On top of that, the vehicle did not have cruise control, elbow rests in the middle row, handled like a three legged bovine, had extremely poor brakes and the space inside was limited by the awful seat design.
Regardless, with the 7.9% financing, the price come up to $366 a month, so in the neighborhood of what I was hoping to pay.
Both local Dodge dealerships flatly refused to compete on the basis of price, claiming that their product is superior and worth more than the competition.
The Journey’s third row seats did not offer enough legroom for school age children to sit comfortably in, and I was told that they will not attempt to come close to the $366 that Chevy offered as "our car is a brand new design and the Chev is on its way out". When I pointed out that at 20K advertised on Dodge.ca website I should be expecting lease payments of about that, I was told that the 20K price is a marketing gimmick since Dodge will not be supplying the dealerships with the base model until later in the model year. I walked.
Already thinking to increase my budget to $400 a month, I walked into Kia, where my inquiry for a 7 passenger vehicle at $350 a month or less was met with “Oh, sure we can do it”. Right away I was shown the better equipped EX model with a small V6, air, cruise, stability control, 6 airbags, CD, key-less entry, power windows, fold flat seats, side mirror defroster, steering wheel radio controls, auxiliary input jack etc, etc.
While I would not call the haggling that followed an experience I would like to repeat, I ended up paying $330 a month for a vehicle that my wife loves to drive, is short enough to park, tall enough to offer excellent visibility, carries kids in comfort (they fight for a third row seat) and gives me better gas mileage then my Avalon.
I bought the van as a people mover on basis of price alone but I am truly impressed with its performance, handling, braking and creature comforts. The Rondo handles like a car, offers excellent gas mileage and with all seats folding flat a lot of cargo space.
After 7000km in every seat and passenger configuration possible, from 7 adults to cargo carrier there is only one improvement that I could suggest – while the air conditioner is sufficient to cool the vehicle, it does not have ducts to cool the last row of seats and only one duct to the middle making temperature adjustments somewhat of a pain.
Compared to other family vehicles, the primary difference between the Rondo (a mini minivan) and 'regular' minivans is non existent cargo room when all seats are deployed and the lack of sliding side doors. The first I fixed by getting a Thule roof box, the other never bothered me much.
So far I’m really, really happy with the vehicle and if reliability proves to be reasonable, chances are that I will buy it at the end of the lease period.
I will keep you posted.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 18th August, 2008