2007 Kia Rondo

Until now, the Mazda 5 has had the compact minivan segment all to itself. Granted, it has always been a piece of the market that’s been like mayonnaise on french fries–loved by Europeans but laughed at by most Americans. With gasoline prices so unpredictable, however, this gamble may pay off, and getting into a new segment early is a surprising change from the derivative, predictable products that make up the rest of Kia‘s lineup. We’re all for it. While the Mazda 5 is offered exclusively with six seats, the Rondo is available with seating for either five or seven passengers. Either seating configuration is a worthy alternative, because the Rondo is both affordably priced and cheap at the gas pump. Efficient–but hardly speedy–propulsion comes from either a four-cylinder or a V-6, bolted to your choice of a four- or five-speed automatic transmission. As with other Kia sport-utility vehicles and crossovers, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, and six air bags are standard.

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