By on October 21, 2015

06 - 2009 Kia Rondo in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

It’s unusual, though not unheard-of, for sub-10-year-old cars to show up in the cheap self-service wrecking yards; most that do are from Detroit.

Or Korea.

I saw this ’07 Sedona covered with fingerpaint and hippie stickers in Wisconson a couple months ago, and now I’ve found this ’09 Kia Rondo in Colorado. The Rondo never made much of an impression in the United States and disappeared without a trace after the 2010 model year, so it’s of some interest as a forgotten car.
10 - 2009 Kia Rondo in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

I’ve been seeing more of these BIOHAZARD stickers on junkyard cars lately, presumably due to some police department that discovers bodily fluids in a car after a crash and/or crime.

02 - 2009 Kia Rondo in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Nope. Not buying anything from the interior of this Rondo.

09 - 2009 Kia Rondo in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The Colorado State Parks pass on this crypto-minivan expired in August, so we can assume that it was driving very recently.

05 - 2009 Kia Rondo in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

As rare as a Suzuki Equator? Maybe not, but close.

In much of the world, this car was (and is) known as the Kia Carens.

After the Rondo departed the United States market, its advertising featured The Croods.

Sales of the Rondo continued in Canada after Kia gave up on U.S. Rondo buyers. Is “Rondo” a household word up there? [Ehhh. —Mark]

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69 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2009 Kia Rondo, now with MORE BIOHAZARD!...”


  • avatar
    dolorean

    I had orignally thought of getting one of these for the fam in MY10. You could get an EX with a stick and leather with the V6 for a decent price. However, at the lot looking at one, wife’s face getting all scrunched up ready to hold her nose against it, when a just off-lease Mazda 5 GT in White Pearl and Tan leather arrived. Never looked at the Rondo again.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    KIA could have kept Rondo going by adding awd. The size is Forester like in many ways. Sure they had a fold up third row seat essential for no reason. But the Rondo could have had a cult following with a “Outback like” version.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    The Rondo is a car that is not so much studly as it is spudly.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Nothing to see here, folks. Move on…

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    We considered this against our Mazda 5 because we weren’t looking for a big van or wagon. Even the V6 option wasn’t enough to sway me after driving the Mazda. The Mazda is sort of scarce (at least where I live), but it’s almost commonplace compared to the Rondo. The rust issues,transmission issues and suspension issues plus an appetite for tires means that first gen Mazda 5’s (06-10) are getting more rare too, but not as rare as these.

    The relative smoothness of the Mazda, the driving feel and sliding doors made the case for the Mazda over the Rondo.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      The Mazda 5 is packaged nicely. But, the crash test ratings are sub par if anything.

      http://www.thecarcrashdetective.com/2014/08/what-the-mazda-5s-safety-scores-mean-for.html/

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Great greenhouse exonerates all else. A little lift would have been icing on the cake, though, for snowy places.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Where’s all the gore?

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      I’m guessing the event happened in the middle seat, judging by the stained seatbelt and almost imperceptible stains on the lower center of the backrest.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        So by the airbag it hit something and if the event happened in the middle seat this means a passenger hit their head or something…

        • 0 avatar
          Roberto Esponja

          I worked at a salvage yard while going to college, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of crash-damaged cars we received where you could tell the rear passenger(s) had smacked around the rear area of the vehicle after the car was hit. This was back when most people didn’t bother with buckling up when they sat in the back seat (I still see that occasionally nowadays).

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I wish we didn’t see a lack of seat belts these days.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            Years ago I worked as military police in Europe.

            There was an accident involving a little US spec Mazda or Mitsubishi. The car survived the crash okay and the front seat passengers walked away from the crash. The visiting relative in the backseat did not wear their seatbelt and tumbled around the inside of the back of the car smacking their head on everything. They died.

            There was another accident where a local person lost control as they approached an accident some of our guys were already working on the cross town highway. She lost control of her little car and pinballed down the highway bouncing off of the guardrails. No seatbelt. The car was beat up but not collapsed. Again she died b/c she bounced off of every surface of the interior of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      My best guesstimate is that this was a portable meth lab used by a band of smurfs somewhere in the wooded outskirts of the sketchier part of Denver, and a rival meth operative disliked the competition.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      I find that the trunk spare tire wells of cars in local self serve junk yards become quite a biohazard with standing water in even the short times the vehicles stay in the yards. I wish the salvage prep people would pull spare tire well body plugs or holesaw a hole into the sheet metal there with the same thoroughness that they always use to ruin oil pans/transmission pans by just punching holes in the pans to drain them even when a drain plug exists in those.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I don’t recall seeing one these ,recently here in Southern Ontario. As matter of fact , I don’t think Kia as whole has been that popular here. Lots of Hyundais, though.

    • 0 avatar
      boozysmurf

      These’re everywhere in Ottawa, ON, Eastern Ontario, and QC/Gatineau.

      Awesome little family haulers: 3rd row available if you want it, rear doors are HUGE and open just about 90 degrees to get kids/gear/seats in and out. And you could have a 2012, new, for about $22k CDN. I know a few families who weren’t initially going to look at one, but fell in love with it for the functionality as soon as they did. Almost no blindspots.

      Fun to drive is maybe not the term, but with a good set of winter tires, it doesn’t need either AWD or additional ride height.

      The new one is a little rounder, but seems to have pretty much the same interior space.

      Fantastic little vehicle, honestly.

  • avatar

    The Rondo looks like Kia’s attempt to build a 21st Century AMC Pacer.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “a 21st Century AMC Pacer.”

      Now *there’s* a dream car plucked straight from my subconscious! If I’d had grown-up money back then I’d have so rocked a Pacer.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      I don’t agree the Rondo looks like an attempt at a Pacer.

      I do think someone, anyone, should attempt a 21st century Pacer. I’d love to see a modern take on a “small wide” car. A 5 or 6 passenger 2-row hatchback with 60+ (66+ would be better) inches hip room across the back seat. I was just talking with a coworker about such a vehicle the other day

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        Exactly.

        Unfortunately nowadays that 66″ of internal space would result in probably 78″ externally once allowance was made for all the side airbags.

        But I’d still go for that if it had the greenhouse!

        • 0 avatar
          cdotson

          Aside from aerodynamics I don’t see the disadvantage to the 78″ external width. I looked up the Wikipedia page on the AMC Pacer and it was 77″ wide, being made as it was from a 70s full size car with truncated ends.

          The greenhouse would be nice. Heck, such a vehicle wouldn’t be bad as a CUV…the extra height for smooth ingress/egress would eliminate much concern about limited door opening space on a wide car and something as wide as a minivan wouldn’t look or drive “tall” at CUV height.

  • avatar
    vvk

    I was travelling along the Saguenay Fjord in Quebec this summer. There were Rondos everywhere! Mostly the newer generation that we never got in the States. I saw a few of them in elsewhere in Quebec, too.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    We had one of these as a rental for a couple of weeks back in August. Great seats, but everything else sucked. The buttons on the steering wheel all made really loud clacky sounds and felt like they were jammed. At highway speeds, it wandered all over the lane, even after I discovered how to change the steering to “sport” mode.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    We have a 2009 Rondo. In the Greater Toronto Area and also in Kingston Ontario they are relatively common. Have seen a number used as taxis in Kingston.

    We were downsizing from 20+ years of ‘minivan’ ownership. Compared this to many vehicles including the Mazda 5. Even contacted a couple of the local auto journalists, one of whom had purchased a Rondo as his family’s daily driver. Thanks to him we purchased the 4 cylinder rather than the 6. Performance (as it is) is relatively the same, however the 4 has a timing chain rather than a timing belt.

    Have to say that after 6 years (knock on wood here), dollar for dollar and pound for pound, it is one of my all-time favourite vehicles.

    Needed something that could fit 5 with relative comfort, or hockey/ski equipment and/or a dog, yet fit our budget. And needed a height adjustable driver’s seat, ‘decent’ size (not too large to be hard for new drivers in the city or too small to be viewed as unsafe) and good visibility.

    Had 3 kids learn how to drive in it. Great seats, great visibility, great driving position. All the safety devices, some of which much more expensive cars of that vintage did not have (Electronic stability/traction control that can be turned off, air curtains, active head restraints).

    Came standard with heated seats, Bluetooth, lit ‘make-up’ mirrors, steering wheel controls

    One of the kids is more than a foot taller than the other, yet they both feel comfortable driving in it. The rear seat is large and comfortable, the back cargo area is capacious and even more so with the back seats folded (60/40).

    The kids still like to drive it and do not consider it to be uncool. They have even named it.

    I would recommend it and am thinking about purchasing another low mileage, rust proofed, maintenance record provided one.

    Sorry to sound like a Kia commercial but in 40+ years of owning/driving vehicles the only ones that have come close in ‘value’ and usefulness have been 1) the ‘tallboy’ realtime AWD Honda Civic stationwagon (‘Wagovan’), ii) a Type III VW ‘shooting brake’ and iii) a uniquely equipped almost base model 1993 Caravan with the 3 speed transmission that we eventually sold to my sister-in-law and which ran for a dozen years with no mechanical issues until some bozo wrote it off (and this experience was quite different from the other 3 Caravans which we eventually owned).

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    The Soul and this were too similar to keep this one going, would make a great prop car for a Walking Dead episode. With some added splattered fake blood of course.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Biohazard warning sticker came from factory & related to toxic VOC fumes emanating from industrial adhesives used to hold interior pieces together, as with many Korean vehicles (owners should park these with windows cracked open and fan running inside vehicle for up to a year before attempting to drive over any remotely long distance).

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      p.s. Many General Motors vehicles, including cloaked Daewoos, and ‘Murican Chevys (including the C7 Stingrays) have same off-gassing issue. I think C7 Stingray has Airbus/Boeing grade adhesives holding interior AND exterior together.

      p.s.x2 – Crabspirits needs to hit this Rondo hard with some delightful yarn.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      In the interest of full disclosure, probably every car owned by a teenager should be required to have one of these biohazard stickers when resold or junked.

  • avatar
    v8corvairpickup

    I always thought this was a great option in the automobile realm. It has seating capacity, cargo space, manual transmission option in some models and was not too small or not too large.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I think mini sliding doors would have worked better on this thing, such as what Mazda 5 had.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      28 those doors did not help Mazda sell many 5’s at all, even though it was a great alternative to the not-so-mini minivans. I still don’t understand why so few were sold and now people are going ape over these cute-utes.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I have seldom seen the Rondo, may not have helped but I doubt it would have hurt.

        I am in the same position of disbelief.

        • 0 avatar
          wolfinator

          I have a Mazda 5, I love it. However, it’s not for everyone. There are some serious drawbacks.

          1) The crash test ratings are abysmal. That matters a lot in this segment.

          2) The fuel economy is unimpressive. It’s better than the not-mini vans, but not _enough_ better to justify the loss in utility.

          3) The interior plastics are really bad. I’m not a person who usually cares – give me durable hard plastics over squishy biodegradable stuff any day! But these plastics are both hard AND wear horribly. After 10,000 miles, my example looks worse than my 08 Mazda3 did after 70,000.

          4) It’s like 5% too small dimensionally. If it was just a bit wider, it could hold a 4′ wide goods. If it was just a smidge longer, you could put stuff in the trunk when hauling people.

          As-is, it’s not really capable of 5-6 people AND stuff without a trailer or roof box. And Mazda inexplicably forbids towing in the US.

          Even better interior packaging would make a difference. In the back, space is pointlessly eaten by intrusive plastic cladding. In the front, the center console eats into driver legroom needlessly.

          Also, once child seats are placed in the 2nd row, you’re not going to have enough space in front unless you are a small person. (Which I am, which is why it works.)

          5) The motor is adequate, but Americans always think they need 300 hp to drive 5mph below the speed limit merging into traffic.

          6) It’s ugly.

          I think it’s a shame. Most of these issues would be ‘automatically’ fixed with a new generation with Skyactive. I can see why Mazda decided not to devote limited resources to a new iteration. But IMO the old one was a dud because it was only 90% of where it needed to be.

          As it is, for most families it just makes sense to pay the price to step up to a bigger vehicle with exponentially more capability.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            Great mini-review. That van was on our look-list too but all of those reasons you mentioned would have been deal breakers for us.

            I do wish we have more small non-CUV people haulers here to choose from. Can haul my plywood on my Brenderup trailer which anything can tow.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            As a fellow 5 owner, all your points are true and number 6 is purely taste. I think our 08 GT is better looking than the 2011+ restyle, but it’s not what you’d call pretty.

            We have a 14 Odyssey EXL on lease and we’re happy with it. It doesn’t have the same character as the Mazda, but it’s way more family friendly. The 5, as you said, is a “people or stuff” vehicle, unless you start doing roof boxes (I won’t).

            And, in the hills of Pittsburgh, the Honda averages 16-17mpg vs the Mazdas 18-19. Way more capable vehicle for not much real world mileage loss.

            The 5 and Rondo had their chance in the US market, but now the small CUV’s are here to stay. I still prefer the 5’s sliding doors anyway. Ours is paid for and will stick around for a few more years.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        Volt, the 5s hugely interested me but they have abysmal ground clearance. Like the Cube, they would flounder in a 6″ snow and we routinely get 10+. Maybe that had some influence in a lot of places.

        • 0 avatar
          Volt 230

          For sure, but even in So Fla they were hard to spot, I went to look at one for a relative, but she found it too narrow for her needs.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Well, I join those amazed by how poorly they sold. I thought they were little gems, a whole different level of maneuverability than today’s minibarges but with most of the capacity.

          • 0 avatar
            zamoti

            I am not surprised how poorly the Mazda5 sold. I have owned several Mazdas from Miata to CX9 and I really wanted to like the 5, but it just wasn’t very good. From the watery drivetrain to the low-rent feel of the interior, it just didn’t compare against the competition very well. All it really had was the distinction of being really the only mini minivan. The problem with that was that the inside was very tight. The second row has two seats, as does the third. I have three kids, so there are five of us. If you have two kids (presuming still a wife) there are four of you and you could easily fit into just about any sedan, cuv, etc and you don’t need this car. If you have five, then you MUST use at least one seat in the third row which means that you have almost no cargo room left. If you had four kids, you truly have a borderline useless cargo area behind the third row. So at this point, you can move people but no stuff unless you like riding with your crap packed around your feet and on the seats next to you. Maybe a roof box would help for vacations, but once you fill the seats you couldn’t even do a grocery run.
            It was just too small to be useful for the amount of people it could potentially hold or it was unnecessary if you only need to move four or even five people.
            Again, I really wanted to like it, but it just didn’t make sense. It’s a shame that it is gone, but it most certainly isn’t a surprise.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            I guess you’d have to assume the existence of kids for any potential buyer.

            I never factor that in, just “Man, you could slide big stuff right in the side with these doors!”

            Of course all seats behind the first row would’ve come out on day one.

      • 0 avatar
        wolfinator

        As covered below, the Mazda5 has some big drawbacks.

        I’m pretty sure the cute-utes serve a different market segment. Different buyers, who don’t prioritize actual utility. Perhaps the 5’s problem is that it was stuck between segments…

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I actually considered the Rondo at one time, but the salesman pushing the V6 instead of the I4 made me walk away,kept saying how weak and unpleasant the four was.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Death cars are always the pits ~ uncrashed ones beckon you with pristine interior parts , then you open the door…..

    Other wise just get ready for an unpleasant day and strip out the running gear and try not to puke too much .

    Interesting that this is touted as a good car , I know bupkis about Kias.

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “Interesting that this is touted as a good car”

      Only by connoisseurs :-)

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        ““Interesting that this is touted as a good car”

        Only by connoisseurs :-)”

        Well , as basic transportation sans exploding CVT’s , blowing head gaskets and so on that so many new cars seem to be troubles with/by .

        One of these days I may be forced to buy a new ‘ Gas-N’-GO ‘ mobile , I hope there will be something easy to drive and good visibility , reliability etc. available .

        Or , I could simply croak in my Met off on some road rally when I’m 90 + , that’d be better .

        -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Hyundai/Kia are proud sponsors of (with prominent product placement in) The Walking Dead.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I guess the Zombie apocalypse did not affect Korea.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    i repaired a “biohazard” a few years ago. a late model accord with a pretty decent front end hit, and the driver had emptied his bowels and bladder upon impact. cloth seats too.

  • avatar

    Wisconsin

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