Woman at the Wheel €" Kia Rondo

Valencia Mohammed €" WI Contributing Writer | 1/3/2009, 5:17 p.m.

Kia€s Youngest Vehicle Makes It Big

Returning to the Kia line-up after its North American introduction in 2007, the Rondo crossover utility vehicle combines comfort and convenience with utility, value and a little bit of "stylatude," offering consumers a unique vehicle that is capable of seating five to seven passengers, depending on their needs.

"Steady sales throughout its first year in the market have proven Rondo to be a serious contender in the crossover segment," said Len Hunt, executive vice president and COO of Kia Motors America. "Consumers have embraced the functionality, style and overall value of Rondo and reaffirmed the need for such a vehicle in the North American marketplace."
Available with either a 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder engine or a 2.7-liter sixty-degree V6, Rondo is built on the same platform as the Kia Optima, sharing engine, transmission and chassis components. The four-cylinder delivers 162 horsepower and 164 pound-feet of torque while the six-cylinder produces 182 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. The four-cylinder comes with a four-speed automatic whereas the V6 is equipped with a five-speed automatic, both mated to an electronically controlled Sportmatic transmission.

Inside Rondo, an immediate sense of spaciousness and "huge cabinocity" 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, 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.

Rondo, a recipient of the five-star frontal crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in only its first year on the market, comes well-equipped with an unprecedented amount of standard safety equipment, including six standard airbags (advanced dual front, dual front seat-mounted side and full-length side curtain including third-row passengers).

The manufacturers suggested retail price is $16,745. The 2008 Kia Rondo offers 19 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.