Welcome back to Shitbox Showdown, our daily routine of checking out the country’s cheaper used cars. Today, let’s head to Washington, D.C. in search of some family-friendly rides that aren’t crossovers or SUVs. However, before we get into that, we should probably take a look at how Friday’s Camry vs. Lexus battle went.
The Lexus takes it by a country mile as a quad-cam V8 and rear-wheel-drive prove hard to resist, even taking into account the car’s modified state. Anyway, let’s jump into today’s event. While many of us like to think that we can keep stables of roadsters and sports sedans, life often eventually forces its hand regarding practicality. Once a partner, children, a dog, family trips, daycare, sporting events, and all that stuff comes into the equation, a hatch really helps. However, not everyone wants the bulk of an SUV, a crossover, or even a minivan, so here are two right-sized rides fit for duty.
Engine/drivetrain: 2.7-liter V6 engine, five-speed automatic gearbox, front-wheel-drive.
Location: Ashburn, Virginia
Odometer reading: 200,250 miles
Runs/drives? You bet.
America hasn’t received many compact people movers over the past two decades or so. In fact, only two found a modicum of traction: The sliding door-equipped Mazda 5 and this, the Kia Rondo. Sure, it might not have sliding doors, but this tall egg was available with three rows of seats for proper family-hauling duties.
[Editor’s Note: Wow, the Kia Rondo. There’s a car I haven’t thought of in a while. -DT]
Powering this particular Rondo is the top-spec 2.7-liter V6, a rather reliable engine good for 192 horsepower, albeit not a terribly refined engine. Power goes to the front wheels through a five-speed automatic with a manual mode for when you really need to get to Home Depot before it closes, although don’t expect this thing to be particularly snappy.
On the outside, this unusual MPV looks remarkably well-kept for having more than 200,000 miles on the clock, with wear on the window trims, chapping on the load lip, and foggy headlights being really the only signs of age. Sure, the styling may look a bit dorky, but visibility is outstanding, and the tall roofline means space for equally-tall cargo or even passengers wearing absurdly large hats.
Moving to the interior, this particular Rondo was optioned with five seats, meaning that it gives up some passenger capacity for a truly massive cargo area. What’s more, second-row passengers are pampered with air vents and, if memory serves correctly, adjustable recline. As for general wear and tear, everything looks quite good including the driver’s outer bolster. Lovely stuff.
Engine/drivetrain: 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-five engine, four-speed automatic gearbox, front-wheel-drive.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Odometer reading: 190,000 miles
If you live in America and are under the age of 55, you probably think of a Volvo when someone mentions the words ‘station wagon.’ The Swedish marque may not have invented the practical family long-roof, but it arguably perfected the genre by melding spaciousness with a pathological obsession with safety. Wagons such as this 1999 V70 GLT built Volvo a reputation as the wagon people, full stop.
Under the hood of the V70 sits a 2.4-liter inline-five with a light-pressure turbocharger good for 190 horsepower. Sure, the automatic gearbox isn’t the most inspired way of putting power to the front wheels, but it should be effortless. What’s more, the seller seems like exactly the sort of person you’d want to buy a used Volvo from, claiming they have “Ample service records available over the years detailing the thousands of dollars invested in keeping this Volvo in top shape, including timing belt at 70k and 140k miles.”
Judging from the exterior, this V70 has seen a lot of life over the past 23 years. The front bumper’s seen a couple of knocks including some gnarly white paint transfer, and the rear bumper also appears quite worn. Speaking of wear, the wooden stick holding up the hatch isn’t particularly inspiring, but the car otherwise appears tidy, with no immediately obvious damage to metal body parts. On the other hand, the figurines glued to the rear bumper are a bit strange, so do with that what you will.
On the inside, there is one major blemish – someone has duct-taped the driver’s seat bolster. Still, the care and attention given to this V70 appears in obvious touches like the cargo mat, as well as less obvious details like the condition of the door sill plates. Someone really loves this car. What’s more, the beige interior offers a brilliant warmth that you just wouldn’t get with a dark colorway. It makes those sumptuous front seats look even more inviting.
So there we are, two very different ways to move your family and all their things about. The Volvo certainly looks more richly-appointed than the Kia, but the Rondo should hopefully prove less fiddly than anything European. As ever, choose wisely.
(Photo credits: Craigslist sellers)
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