Introduced in 1999, the Kia Rondo was called a crossover vehicle by its South Korean manufacturers. However, despite its car-like looks, the Rondo is more like a wagon or a small minivan. It is part of the space wagon MPV class in Europe and Asia, where it is sold under the name Kia Carens.
The Kia Rondo has never been the most popular in its class, but there is no denying the fact that the car offers lots of flexibility and functionality for its size. Its design, which combines a bit of a hatchback and a minivan, can accommodate up to 7 passengers, and it is relatively agile on the road with plenty of storage. Those who are looking for a crossover that is slightly smaller than a minivan may find the Kia Rondo a perfect fit.
The Kia Rondo had a long run in most markets around the world, and its fourth generation debuted in 2013 for the North American, Asian, and European automotive markets. However, the car had a rather short lifespan, with the first generation being offered as the Kia Carens from 1999 to 2001. Production continued elsewhere for a new model launched the next year, and the second generation was introduced in 2007. The car was named Rondo in North America and Rondo7 locally. It was introduced at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in 2007. Sales for the car commenced from early 2008, and for the first year, Kia recorded good sales. However, sales went down from the 2009 model, and the car was subsequently cancelled.
In simple words, the Kia Rondo did not have an immense amount going for it. It was available for just two years, and most people never even realized it was there. Despite the fact that it was so overlooked and there was nothing unique that stands out about the car, the Rondo still manages to be an adored underdog. It does more than most people would expect in terms of performance, variety in trim levels, and features. Right from the base-level Kia Rondo LX, the car is well-equipped and offers lots of value.
During its two years of production, the Kia Rondo was available with a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine that delivered 106kW of power and 189Nm of torque. Mileage was less than average at 8-9L/100km. The car has an impressive ANCAP rating of four stars out of five, and it can go from standstill to 100km/h in 11 seconds and reach a top speed of 190km/h, which are pretty average figures again but good enough for the customers who want a wagon like the Kia Rondo.
Unlike its American version that was available in 5- or 7-passenger configurations, the Rondo was only available as a 7-passenger vehicle. This arrangement came with a 60/40 split-folding third row bench at the back. The standard transmission is a 5-speed manual, although a 4-speed automatic transmission is also available with an antiskid system. In terms of performance, the 4-cylinder engine does well enough to accelerate and stop, but it takes a little effort to gather speed to pass and merge with traffic on the open road.
Some of the good qualities of the Kia Rondo are its comfort and quality. The engine does lack refinement, but the ride is very composed and comfortable even when driving over rough roads. This soft ride does take a toll on its stability, so expect some body lean when the car corners hard. At cruising speed, the Kia Rondo is perfectly quiet despite the coarse engine. The gauges and instruments inside the car are large and easy to read with controls in all the right places. The overall quality of the interior is much better than other cars in the Rondo’s class, and so is passenger space, thanks to the high roof and chair-height seats. Visibility is good in front but a little restricted at the back because of the thick rear roof pillars.
Standard kit on the Kia Rondo includes alloy wheels, AM/FM/CD player, iPod auxiliary jack, power windows and locks, 4-wheel disc brakes, electronic stability control, child safety locks, front and rear cup holders, and front, side, and full length side curtain airbags. The optional features include leather interior, moonroof, cruise control, 10-speaker stereo system, and a keyless entry system.
The Kia Rondo was part of the mid-size wagon market, which had popular cars like the Subaru Outback, Pontiac Vibe, Mazda5, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chevrolet HHR, and Toyota RAV4. The Ronda does not offer much in terms of performance or style, but it does offer better than average interior space and quality, comfort, quietness, and visibility.