Rondo packs a lot into a tidy footprint

With conventional swing-out doors and a big rear hatch, the Kia Rondo is more car-like than a minivan.


Kia’s model line, already the youngest in the industry, gets another addition with the arrival of the Rondo.

The Rondo is based on the same platform and uses the same drivetrain as the Magentis. With conventional swing-out doors and a big rear hatch, it is more car-like than a minivan. With low ride height and step-in, it provides very easy access to the second and third rows, making it more people friendly than an SUV.

The Urban Utility vehicle as Kia calls it, comes in five- or seven-seat form and competes against the Mazda5, Toyota Matrix, Chevrolet HHR and Dodge Caliber. Kia claims the Rondo has the edge on three fronts — safety, space and value.

It comes with a 162 horsepower, 2.4-litre 4-cylinder engine with more power than most of its rivals. But it also offers a 2.7-litre, 185 hp V6, which none of the others offer. The 4-cylinder is matched with a 4-speed automatic transmission and the V6 gets a 5-speed.

While the exterior looks fairly conventional, the Rondo has a very stylish rear, hard to accomplish in such a boxy shape.

The Rondo interior is a treat with thoughful touches everywhere. In fact, fit and finish is worthy of a luxury car.

The interior is a treat, with style and thoughtful touches everywhere. Worthy of particular praise is the centre stack and numerous storage nooks and crannies throughout. Materials appear high quality while fit and finish is worthy of a luxury car. A combination of orange lighting and charcoal trim furthers the upscale impression.

Front seats are wide and comfortable, there’s ample knee room in row two and available third row pews are suitable for small folk. With the third row in place, there’s precious little storage room behind, but with it folded flat into the floor, you get a wide, flat, well-finished cargo area complete with some small secure storage spaces beneath. In five-passenger layout there are more and larger hidden storage areas under the cargo floor. The backs of both front seats and the second row seats fold flat.

The Rondo rides and handles like a car and is exceptionally quiet in terms of wind and road noise. The six we sampled is silky smooth and the 5-speed automatic showed no tendency to hunt or pause in hilly terrain.

There are two trim levels, LX and EX. Prices range from $19,995 to $25,995 — with the value card played throughout the range.

Standard equipment includes ABS, electronic stability control, six airbags, automatic transmission, traction control, power windows, locks and mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels and 4-wheel disc brakes. From there you can move up in seating configuration and to the V6. Our pick is the EX V6 with air-conditioning, cruise, upgraded interior, fog lamps, windshield wiper de-icer, heated seats and mirrors, remote keyless entry, and secondary audio controls on the steering wheel at $22,995.

One in four Canadians will choose a compact car as their next vehicle purchase. Many of them should put the Rondo on their shopping list.

Kia Rondo EX-V6

  • Type: Compact 5-passenger FWD wagon

  • Price: $22,995

  • Engine: 2.7-litre V6 DOHC

  • Horsepower: 182 @ 6000 rpm

  • Torque (lb-ft): 182 @ 4000 rpm

  • Highlights: Nice interior, cabin quietness, roominess, seven-seat availability, ride and handling, fits and finishes

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