2009 Rondo New Car Test Drive
The Kia Rondo takes up little space yet it seats up to seven adults. It's shorter than the six-passenger Mazda5, but it offers more third-row legroom than a Toyota RAV4. We found the ride, handling and brakes of the Kia Rondo excellent. It's a good vehicle for running around town or for taking the whole family on a long trip.
A four-cylinder engine comes standard with an EPA-rated City/Highway 20/27 miles per gallon. We found it to be strong, offering good acceleration performance for passing on two-lane roads, and it's smooth and quiet when cruising down the highway. This 2.4-liter four-cylinder comes mated to a four-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode.
A smooth 2.7-liter V6 with a five-speed automatic is optional. It's rated 18/26 mpg and delivers more thrust more smoothly and adds just $1,000 to the retail price, making it a bargain.
The seats are comfortable whether in cloth or leather. The driver sits relatively high and the Rondo feels like neither a car nor a sport utility. In addition to people, it can haul lots of stuff; just flip down the back two rows of seats.
For 2009, both engines are upgraded in power. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder was rated at 162 horsepower last year, but is now at 175 horsepower in ULEV (Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle) form, and 167 horsepower in SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle) form; the SULEV version is sold in the states of California, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Oregon. The 2.7-liter V6 was 182 horsepower, and is now 192 in all states. There is a new Plus Package for the LX trim level; it includes alloy wheels, carpeted floormats and heated front seats ($590). For the upper-grade EX trim level there is a Premium Package, which includes a power sunroof, Infinity AM/FM/MP3/Sirius 315-watt digital audio system with a six-CD changer, and navigation ($2400).
The 2009 Kia Rondo comes in LX and EX models with a choice of four-cylinder and V6 engines.
The Rondo LX ($18,495) comes with air conditioning, remote keyless entry, cruise control, a 60/40 fold-flat rear seat, and power windows, locks and mirrors. The LX is also available in a base version without remote entry and cruise control ($17,495).
The Rondo EX ($21,295) adds leather trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome grille, door handles and molding, fog lamps, heated mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, lights for the vanity mirrors, and a CD/MP3 six-speaker sound system. Optional is the Premium Package with the eight-speaker Infinity sound system, sunroof, and navigation ($2400).
The LX V6 ($19,495) and EX V6 ($22,295) are equipped similarly to the four-cylinder versions of the respective trim levels but add the more powerful V6 engine.
Options include the third-row seat ($650), and a body kit ($995) consisting of a front spoiler, rear valance, side sill skirts, wheel arch moldings and a rear lower spoiler. Roof rails come standard, but the crossbars to make them functional are optional ($200). A cargo cover is available as a dealer accessory.
Safety equipment on every Rondo includes front airbags, side airbags in front, full-length airbag curtains (including for third-row seats), active front headrests, anti-lock disc brakes, electronic stability control, and a government mandated tire pressure monitor. Kia should be commended for giving the attractively-priced Rondo such a healthy complement of safety features for the money.