What is the Kia Rondo? Kia likes to call the Rondo a crossover utility vehicle, which is certainly a trendy catchphrase. The only problem is that the Rondo looks more like a small minivan. In Europe and Asia, this type of vehicle -- known as "space wagon MPV" -- is quite popular. In fact, the Rondo has been sold in those markets (as the Kia Carens) for years.
Though it never really caught on with consumers, the Kia Rondo provides a surprising amount of functionality and flexibility for its size and price. As a cross between a minivan and a hatchback, the four-door Rondo can carry up to seven passengers. It's relatively nimble and filled with clever storage space. If you're in the market for a used compact crossover or something smaller than a minivan, the Rondo is a solid, if often overlooked, choice.
Most Recent Kia Rondo
The Kia Rondo was produced from 2007-'09. Originally, its base 2.4-liter four-cylinder produced 162 horsepower, while the 2.7-liter V6 produced 182 hp. For 2009, these were bumped up to 175 for the four-cylinder (167 in California emissions states due to SULEV emissions rating) and 192 for the V6. A four-speed automatic transmission was standard with the four-cylinder, and the V6 came with a five-speed automatic.
Although there is nothing fancy about the Kia Rondo, it still manages to overachieve in many areas. Available in two trims, LX and EX, the Rondo is nicely equipped from the base model on up. Even the lowest LX trim comes with important safety features, such as stability control and antilock brakes. Other satisfying standard features include 16-inch wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories and an audio system with CD player and auxiliary audio jack. A third row of seats is optional on the LX and standard on the EX, which boosts total capacity to seven people.
Moving up to the EX trim level adds 17-inch wheels, leather upholstery, heated seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Other options include a sunroof, a navigation system, an iPod adapter and an upgraded stereo. For '09, leather, heated seats, a navigation system and an iPod interface became available.
In spite of its small size, the Kia Rondo is very functional. With the third-row seating option, the Rondo seats up to seven passengers, though the third row is certainly best suited for children. The second-row seats slide fore and aft, and fold flat in a 60/40 split. The optional third-row seats also fold flat, but in a 50/50 split. And there is no shortage of storage, including 10 cupholders.
In road tests, our editors found the Kia Rondo performed surprisingly well. Both the four-cylinder and V6 engines delivered smooth acceleration. The V6 was particularly responsive, offering punchy acceleration and commendable passing power. Its steering was decent, especially for a tallish family vehicle. Although we'd prefer less body roll, the Rondo never felt tippy. In many everyday situations, such as parking and negotiating traffic, the Rondo could fool you into thinking you were actually in a small car, which was exactly the point.