Kia Rondo

The dilemma

Dave’s Toyota Echo is starting to get a bit tight on back-seat and boot space now he has two young children. He’s looking for something a little more family friendly with an economical petrol engine and reversing camera. He’d love a hybrid as he’s mostly city bound but can’t think of one that might suit his needs. 

The budget

About $35,000 

The shortlist

Contrary to what Dave thinks, there is a fuel-sipping hybrid made with family buyers in mind. Even better, it has a mandatory reversing camera and aligns nicely with his budget.

Other options? Well, Dave says he’s checked out Ford’s Mondeo wagonHonda’s CR-VHyundai’s i30 Tourer/ix35 duo and Mazda’s 6 wagon, and none would be a terrible option.

But there are some question marks. For the Mondeo and 6 it’s size – both are possibly too big for someone who wants a ‘little more’ practicality than an Echo, even before you consider specific shortcomings (age, average fuel economy and no reversing camera with the Ford; no capped servicing with the Mazda) that could dampen their appeal.

We also wonder if a CR-V or ix35 is really necessary when the i30 Tourer will deliver similar functionality in a more manageable and economical package. Our third contender, another blow-in Dave may not have considered, also makes a strong case for not joining the SUV herd.


Hyundai i30 Tourer, from $22,990

This Hyundai has good back-seat space and is more practical than hatch equivalents with its 528-litre boot yet in terms of size, urban manoeuvrability and fuel use it’s really just another small car.

It’s also quiet, comfortable, safe, good value and combines a long five-year warranty with a three-year capped servicing plan.

Dave, though, shouldn’t expect it drive as nicely as the best small cars. He’ll have to live without a petrol engine, too, as only the topline $31,190 Elite CRDi gets a reversing camera – given its diesel engine performs better and is thriftier anyway, it’s not something to fret about.

Read Drive’s Hyundai i30 reviews: Hyundai i30 Tourer Elite CRDi road test, Holden Cruze Sportwagon vs Hyundai i30 Tourer head to head.


Kia Rondo, from $29,990

This Kia isn’t big, dimensionally sitting between the i30 Tourer and your average compact SUV, and it doesn’t drive or drink like a big car.

But the compact exterior cloaks a cabin with plentiful space, heaps of storage and a handy 492-litre boot, plus two folding seats that offer extra kid-toting versatility or can be ignored altogether.

Issues? Vision could be better, it’s not bargain buying like its predecessor and the petrol engine - although perky enough - can be on the thirsty side when you’ve got the whole crew on board. But the well-sorted road manners, mandatory reversing camera and five-year warranty/five-year capped servicing combo are significant counterweights to any blemishes.

Read Drive’s Kia Rondo reviews: Kia Rondo first drive, Kia Rondo carpool.


Toyota Prius V, from $35,990

Much like the Rondo, this Toyota is less a serious seven-seater than a compact-sized wagon with kiddie-sized seats in the boot.

But that’s a blueprint that will suit many buyers. If their driving is mainly urban-centric, they may also find its flexible, unobtrusive performance and exceptional economy add up to more than its open-road shortcomings (there, it's busier, less responsive and no more frugal than diesels).

The V also touts a standard reversing camera, plenty of kit and a three-year capped-servicing plan. But the highest starting price here could smart when its final-row seats are squeezier than the Rondo’s, its refinement is mediocre and its road manners are so vanilla-flavoured.

Read Drive’s Toyota Prius reviews: Toyota Prius V road test.


Drive recommends

Given we’re dealing with someone coming out of an Echo and longing for a family-friendly hybrid, the Prius V could well be a winner for Dave. However, while it’ll certainly do what he's asking, the fact it’s pricier than its rivals yet also less rounded in some significant ways stops us short from giving it the victor’s bouquet.

That leaves the Hyundai and Kia fighting it out and either would be a worthy choice.

The Rondo, though, is the only one that allows Dave to combine both his desired petrol engine and reversing camera. It’s better presented, has the longer capped-servicing plan and – while it takes up a little more space and uses a little more fuel – the sacrifices are more than reasonable in light of the superior functionality and versatility it offers.