Kia just showed off its new Mazda5, and we like it. Actually it's called the Rondo and although it is a tall wagon like the Mazda, it lacks the 5's sliding rear doors. It does, however, trump the 5 in height and width, as well as in number of seats at 7 versus 6 for the 5, although only in the optional three row form. Confused yet? There's more. It's basically another smallish people mover with flexible seating/cargo configurations and even an optional third row. This seems to be a popular segment with cars as diverse as the PT Cruiser and Honda Fit in the fold. Available with your choice of a 162 hp 2.4-liter four or a 2.7-liter sixty-degree V6 putting out 182 hp, it fairly covers the segment-sharing Chevy HHR's powerplant ratings.
Len Hunt, executive vice president and COO of Kia Motors America (KMA) managed to keep a straight face while discussing all of the new "Rondoisms" that this new Kia has created in the company. Nothing on the level of Molly Simms or Jennifer Love Hewitt popping up at other unveils, but at least it was somewhat entertaining, if only in a hokey way. They really didn't need the "spectator" jumping on stage or the confetti at the end, because this is actually a pretty nice vehicle that could have stood on its own quite nicely. Probably the best debut of this very slow day at the LA Auto Show.
Pics and full press release after the jump.
ALL-NEW 2007 KIA RONDO MAKES U.S. DEBUT
AT LOS ANGELES AUTO SHOW
Kia Beefs Up Product Line, Enters Crossover Vehicle Segment With New Model
LOS ANGELES, November 30, 2006 – Kia Motors America (KMA) today added a fresh face to its vehicle lineup by unveiling the all-new 2007 Kia Rondo, designed to completely change the way consumers think about the crossover segment, at the Los Angeles Auto Show. A brand-new model for North America, Rondo encompasses Kia's "Power to Surprise" tag line and fits perfectly into the company's evolving image as a leader in safety and value.
"The all-new Rondo is a perfect addition to further Kia's growth in the U.S. market, and allows us to be even more competitive, especially in the ever-expanding crossover vehicle segment," said Len Hunt, executive vice president and COO of KMA. "By broadening our product selection, and with the news of our vehicles' high level of comfort, quality and performance spreading throughout the industry, more consumers will be attracted to the Kia brand when considering a future vehicle purchase."
Smooth, Clean Exterior Lines (Car Stylatude)
The Rondo instantly garners attention with its fresh, clean look thanks to a modern dynamic shape. Available in LX and EX trim levels, standard LX features include body-colored door handles, body-colored side moldings and black front grille crossbars packaged with newly designed 16-inch, six-spoke alloy wheels fitted with 205/60HR16 tires. Upgrading to an EX adds fog lights, 17-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels and 225/50R17 Michelin tires. Chrome accents, which are standard on the EX, include exterior door handles, side moldings and front grille crossbars. Integrated roof rails – sans crossbars – also is standard on EX models and available on most LX trims. The easy-on-the-eyes exterior shape of Rondo can be further enhanced by an accessory body kit, which includes fender flares, front/rear/side fascia extensions and a lower rear spoiler. An upper rear spoiler as well as roof rack crossbars are available as standalone options. Exterior color choices include two completely new Kia colors, Urban Gray and Fine Silver.
Roomy Interior Provides Versatility (Huge Cabinocity, Seat Flexology)
Exterior refinement continues to flow into the cabin. Standard features include flat woven seat fabric, an AM/FM/CD tuner with four speakers and air conditioning (for most models) along with power windows, door locks and mirrors. The EX upgrades to Double Raschel seat fabric; an MP3-capable AM/FM/CD/Cassette stereo with front tweeters and steering wheel-mounted audio controls; a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; illuminated vanity mirrors; and metal-finish interior door handles.
Additional packaging options accentuate the interior to near-luxury status. The Convenience Package (LX) adds cruise control and keyless entry; the Leather Package (EX) adds heated leather seats; and the Premium Package (EX) adds a power sunroof and upgraded 10-speaker Infinity AM/FM/MP3-capable 315-watt digital audio system with in-dash six-CD changer and 7.5-inch subwoofer.
Inside Rondo, an immediate sense of spaciousness in the legroom and headroom departments is evident. The standard five- and optional seven-passenger seating configurations will appeal to consumers looking for the functionality of a minivan, but not the size and heft. Slightly taller and wider than its closest competitor, the Mazda5, the Rondo provides a comfortable front row with 41.6 inches of headroom and 41.3 inches of legroom. Second-row space is fixed at 40.2 inches of headroom and 38.2 inches of legroom, regardless of a five- or seven-passenger seating layout. The optional third-row seating offers a sensible 35.1 inches of headroom and 31.3 inches of legroom, more than enough room to accommodate the average-sized adult. And when optioned with the third row, Rondo's second row adjusts with a forward/backward sliding range of nearly one foot in travel.
The versatile second-row seats also provide the flexibility of a 60/40 multi-fold split, while the third row folds down in a 50/50 split. Additionally, both rows fold completely flat for maximized cargo room. Practicality does not sacrifice comfort as the driver's seat offers six-way adjustments, including height adjustment, and the front passenger offers four-way adjustments. In addition, each passenger is well taken care of with an abundance of storage cubbies and multiple cup holders located in every row.
Optima-Based, Car-Like Attitude and Performance (Giddyupidness)
Under the hood Rondo is built from a solid foundation derived from Kia's new-generation Optima and shares engine, transmission and chassis components. Available with either a 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder engine or a 2.7-liter sixty-degree V6, Rondo performs with finesse, despite its slightly larger dimensions. The four-cylinder delivers 162 horsepower and 164 lb-ft of torque while the six-cylinder produces 182 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. The LX comes with a four-speed automatic whereas the EX is equipped as a five-speed automatic, both with a standard Sportmatic shift.
The front-wheel drive Rondo utilizes independent front and rear suspensions. Situated in front are MacPherson struts with coil springs while the rear's multi-link and coil springs complete the layout to provide a comfortable, balanced ride. Standard front and rear anti-roll bars are calibrated for precise and responsive handling, while the hydraulic power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering's effort and feel are tuned accordingly.
The Kia brand has an established history in addressing vehicle safety, and the all-new Rondo is no exception with an unprecedented amount of standard equipment. Part of the vehicle's advanced supplemental restraint system (SRS) are six standard airbags: advanced dual front, dual front seat-mounted side and full-length side curtains.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and a four-channel four-wheel Anti-Lock Disc Braking System (ABS) help maintain vehicle control during difficult driving conditions. Front active headrests coupled with side-impact door beams, an energy-absorbing steering column and front crumple zone provide more passenger protection. A Tire-Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is also standard on all models.
As with all Kia models, Rondo comes with Kia's Total Protection Package, exceptional vehicle coverage that includes a 10-year/100,00-mile limited powertrain warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty and 5-years/60,000-miles of 24-hour Roadside Assistance. One-year/12,000-mile tire and road hazard protection as well as a 5-year/100,000-mile limited anti-perforation warranty are added benefits to consumers.
Kia Motors America – the sales, marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corp. in Seoul, South Korea – offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 630 dealers throughout the United States. For more information, including photography, visit www.kiamedia.com.
# # #