Pimp My Kia Rondo

So Thumper, my beloved LJ — a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited with lots of fixings — has been in storage in Colorado for a couple weeks now. I drove it out for the big Anasazi trek and then left it in Ouray, which is a far more fitting place for an awesome four-wheel-drive rig than Charleston, South Carolina. Without it around, though, I’ve been getting antsy to work on something. And since, you know, the new Kia Rondo is right here … I decided to pimp my ride, as the kidz say. No, not spinning wheelcaps or neon lights on the undercarriage. A new car stereo.

It’s not that the factory stereo was bad. It was actually quite suitable. Simple to use, good sound, looked nice. No complaints at all.

Well, except one itsy bitsy little thing: It didn’t have any way to plug in an mp3 player. And in the months since we bought the Rondo we’ve grown quite reliant on our iPod Touch. Since the FM transmitter things we’ve tried are a real pain in the butt to use on any regular basis, we needed at least an auxiliary input for the iPod. Kia remedied this problem in the 2008 Rondo — putting an “aux in” jack inside the console — but no such luck on our 2007.

We contemplated a number of aftermarket stereos — some with touchscreen GPS navigation and other newfangled technological what-not — but in the end we opted for a simple JVC KW-XG500 from Crutchfield. It has an auxiliary input jack on the front (score!), but we went ahead and added on the JVC KS-PD100 iPod adapter, which I planned to route up through the console. Sound and charging the iPod? That’s pimpin’, baby.

The unit came just after noon today. Installation began a few minutes later.

Here’s the “before” shot of the original dashboard. The new stereo won’t look quite as “built-in” as the factory stereo here, but it’ll have a lot of the bells and whistles that this stock one lacks.

Getting the panels off was a bit of a pain, since I don’t have the fancy-pants tool the pros use, but I got them loose without incident using a tiny pry bar and a pair of fingernail clippers. Seriously.

Factory stereo now thrown into the backseat. Getting to this point didn’t take very long at all, really. I’ve installed quite a few car stereos over the years, and the de-installation is never that big of a deal. It’s the installation of the new one coming up that’s always a pain.

So this is where I’m routing the iPod adapter and jack through the console, which is partially disassembled. The adapter unit itself is mounting on that black plastic in the gap to the right, with wires running up past the shifter to the receiver head unit in the dash. The iPod connector itself will run up through that conveniently placed rectangular opening in the bottom of the console tub to the left. There’s a felt “bottom” that slips down into that tub, and a quick bit of knife work opened up a perfect hole for the cord to pass through. Everything but the lovely iPod connecting line itself will thus be completely hidden — and even that line routes through the console, where it can be easily stowed out of sight. In addition, this set-up means the iPod control has enough slack to be reached by both front and rear seats.

Routing the iPod connection lines was a pain — there were a lot of panels to pop loose, and little tight spots to squeeze hands or lines through — but it wasn’t worrisome. No, it’s this wiring part that’s always stressful. If I’ve connected the lines wrong I’ll blow a fuse at a minimum, if not the stereo itself. Anyway, this is what the wiring harness looks like once everything is matched up. It’s mostly color-to-color, though a few connections weren’t quite that simple. Just follow the wiring diagrams and cross your fingers!

Okay. I’m all set to plug in the new stereo now and start putting things back together in earnest. I’ve cleaned up the connections with zip-ties and electrical tape to make a nice little bundle. Fewer rattles that way. Looks like it’s all ready to fit.

New stereo went in without a hitch. I won’t know if it works until I reconnect the car’s battery, though. Just another minute or two. Hopefully I won’t hear that tell-tale pop of electricity arcing, or smell the acrid whisp of fried electronics, or see any drifting tendrils of grey-white fuse-smoke.

So, 2-3 hours after I started, installation is complete. Remarkably, it worked right away, with no need to redo any connections. I wish I could say every car stereo installation went so well, but I can’t. At any rate, the money saved is worth it. A basic install at most retailers runs about $150, and the addition of the iPod adapter made this one non-basic. My guess is it would have been a minimum $250 to have someone else do the work, and they might not have put the iPod line in as nicely as I managed. That’s enough to pay for the stereo itself!

All done! And just in time, too: we’ll be leaving on our summer trip out West in a few weeks, so we’ll use the heck out of this right away!

21 Comments

  1. Pingback: Stereo removal & Sub swap help - Page 5 - Kia Forum

  2. Nicely done – do you have a pic of the ipod adapter?

  3. Not really, kjunk. There’s not much to see, frankly. The little adapter box, as described above, is under the console area, completely hidden from view (to see the box you can follow the link to Crutchfield above).

    So all that one can really see of it all now is the iPod connection cable that I routed through a tiny slit in the felt in the bottom of the console. I pull the cable out and just plug it into the iPod Touch when I want to use it. Otherwise, it sits coiled up in the console out of view.

  4. I have come across your post because we just bought a used 07 Rondo. how do you like the radio? any tips for someone who has never installed a radio before? I like the idea of running everything through to the console to keep it hidden.

  5. First off, congrats on the Rondo buy, Bryce. It’s a terrific vehicle. We still love ours.

    We also still love the JVC radio I installed. It does just what we need it to do, without a lot of fuss. Just know what you want in a headunit when you’re buying something aftermarket. (In our case, I wanted great sound, great iPod connectivity, good aesthetic match with the interior, and a good price — the JVC-KW-XG500 has all that.)

    As for install, the number one piece of advice I could give is for you to take your time. Whether it’s prying off the panels or hooking up the new wiring harness, go slow. For the panels, for instance, be sure you’re not going to scratch another panel to get one off (masking parts off with tape can be useful here, as can the proper tools). For the wires, just double- or triple-check everything. If you order/buy from a good dealer (Crutchfield is certainly one), they’ll have very detailed directions about what goes where. Just take your time!

    All in all, the whole thing is far less scary than it seems like from the outside. Good luck!

  6. I have an iPod Touch, and my 2009 Rondo won’t play it. I either have the wrong Touch version, or it just doesn’t like the iPod Touch. I’m still searching for an answer.

  7. I’d like to know if all the speakers work with your stereo. Because I asked several stereo stores and they told me that I might need to change the amplifier.

  8. I’m not really sure what your situation is, Matias. A stock stereo typically contains an amp that is enough to run the stock speakers. In replacing that stereo, you’ll replace the amp. It would be highly unlikely that the replacement would not have enough of an amp to run the stock speaker arrangement. Mine certainly did. All speakers work and all sound great.

    Now, if you were trying to add bazooka woofers and get window-rattling boom from the stereo — which I personally despise — then you might indeed need your ears checked another amplifier. You’d also need new speakers, though. The stock Kia speakers are suitable for common use, but they’re not audiophile quality at 120 decibels.

  9. Excellent documentation. This really helped me remove the dashboard of my 2007 Kia Rondo (used), just to add the Scosche FMMOD2. I have also taken a few pictures, probably will post them on a forum.
    Again thanks a bunch.

    The only tough time I had was to get a 12 V DC feed for the FM modulator. I just tapped it from the Digi clock adapters.

  10. zentury : Excellent documentation. This really helped me remove the dashboard of my 2007 Kia Rondo (used), just to add the Scosche FMMOD2. I have also taken a few pictures, probably will post them on a forum.
    Again thanks a bunch.
    The only tough time I had was to get a 12 V DC feed for the FM modulator. I just tapped it from the Digi clock adapters. One thing I observed was the Check Engine light came ON after I reconnected the battery.Did the same happen to you?

  11. Glad it helped you, zentury.

  12. Hi Mike

    This is just a general question about the design of the car (nothing about the audio system).

    It was very windy today, I did observe a lot of wind-noise from the driver’s side , specifically from the external mirrors. did not find any leaks in the window.

    Do you observe the similar symptoms too?

    Mine’s a 2007 Kia Rondo LX. Proud owner from past 3 weeks.

    PS:
    did find a few forums discuss about this problem. But no resolution yet.

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  14. Hey have a question about your install in your ’07 rondo. did you install a sub and amp as well? looking for an idea place to run the amp power wire from the battery into the cabin was wondering if you did where did you come in from under the hood into the cabin

    Thanks

  15. Hi Mike, What antenna adapter did you use ? I am finding conflicting information about which one to use for my 2008 Kia Rondo. Thanks for the great pictures and write up by the way….MATT

  16. Looking into buying a 2007 Rondo, and noticed the same little issue of having no AUX input that you did. I was very happy to find this article.

    One question that you didn’t address, though: the steering wheel controls. Did you get the controls (MODE, FWD/BACK, VOL +/-) to work on the new JVC? Thanks for the tutorial.

    • We didn’t have steering wheel controls on the stock set-up, so I can’t speak to troubles hooking them up! I did just install a new stereo in my Jeep Commander that had such controls, however, and it went very well — you just have to be sure you have the right adapter. I’d suggest talking to Crutchfield in that regard.

      • Ahh, now I see when I loaded the hi-res version of the first photo, the controls on the left side of the wheel are “dummies”. The model that I’m looking at has them there, and with the factory unit they work, of course!

        I’ll have to check with the wife if she’s willing to potentially lose the use of those buttons, if it’s not a setup that a new head unit will support.

        Thanks again for your response, it is much appreciated.

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