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2009 Kia Rondo Review – Androgyny meets Practicality

Friday May 1st, 2009 at 9:55 AM
Posted by: Kurt Gensheimer

Interior

Given the Rondo’s price range between $17,000 and $24,000, our V6 EX model was fully-loaded at a shade under $24,000, and the features were fairly generous, including leather seats with front heaters. Curiously, the Rondo lacked certain options like navigation and satellite radio found in similarly priced cars, but the good news is the HVAC and radio controls are ergonomic, simple and easy to use; a big plus for many car buyers who still get by just fine without the need for navigation, Bluetooth or satellite radio.

As was mentioned, front row seating is upright and roomy, with captain-like chairs that give you a commanding view of the road. Second row seating is equally roomy in both the leg and headroom department. As a bonus, the seats slide forward and back as well as partially recline. Third row, well, unless you’re five years old or an amputee, you can forget about the third row. But its there in a pinch.

Rondo driver's seat Rondo third row seating Kia Rondo rear cargo space

Cargo space is what really sets the Rondo apart, with nearly 75 inches of interior cargo space with both the second and third row seats folded flat. Those numbers outrank the likes of many compact SUVs. And what’s more, the Rondo features little cubbyholes and hidden compartments for even more stowage. On a weekend mountain bike excursion, we managed to cram two bikes, two coolers, chairs, camping equipment, a duffel bag and other assorted outdoorsy junk in the back without even obstructing the view out the rear window.

Exterior

Without question the most enraging aspect of the Rondo was it’s rear liftgate. Whoever designed it either is partial to short people, has deep animosity towards tall people or a combination of both. At full lift, the tailgate is not completely flat in its arc. It hangs downward ever so slightly, making for numerous painful, curse-laden encounters with my head. So listen up, if you’re six feet tall or more and end up buying the Rondo, learn to bend your knees every time you reach in the back or you’re gonna get cold cocked.

What is most noticeable about the Rondo’s exterior is its high roofline and extensive use of glass; a welcome departure from the high-shoulder fad currently running rampant in the automotive design world. This generous use of glass makes for exceptional visibility from all angles for the driver.

Value

There’s more value in the Rondo than your bi-weekly trip to Costco. Despite our dislike of the V6, for under $24,000, you get a fully-loaded Rondo with features like power everything, leather seats with front heaters, remote keyless entry, cruise control, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, traction control, tire pressure monitoring, six-speaker stereo with CD and MP3 capability and steering wheel mounted controls. The Rondo is one of the best family-oriented values on the market today.

2009 Kia Rondo

Who Should Buy It?

I think the target here is more families than singles or couples looking for a practical car with room. Singles or couples usually have some desire remaining to own a stylish car that still has some inkling of sexiness. However, for most parents who’ve long ago given up the arduous struggle to remain sexy, if you don’t mind the stylistic androgyny the Rondo delivers, then it’s all upside. It’s the perfect vehicle for a small family who’s looking for a quality-built, practical, economical runabout which can handle most every cargo capacity requirement.

Conclusion

Although no more hip than most minivans, the Rondo offers the practicality of a minivan in a much smaller and more economical package. It also offers more cargo capacity than most compact SUVs, putting the Rondo dead in the middle of meeting most family vehicle needs. The challenges we see for the Rondo are as follows: stereotypes are hard to shake, like the now-unfounded assumption that Korean cars are crapcans, and the more probable notion that the Rondo isn’t nearly big enough to handle the egregious cargo requirements of most overloaded American families.

Build Interior Performance Handling Styling Value Overall
Rating 4.0 4.0 2.5 3.0 2.0 5.0 3.4/C

Kia Rondo Photo Gallery

Kia Specs

Kia Rondo Specs

Kia MotorsThe official website of Kia Motors – www.kia.com

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2 Responses to 2009 Kia Rondo Review – Androgyny meets Practicality

  1. Pingback: Table of Contents – Expert Reviews - suzuki 125

  2. Steve says:

    I looked at the Kia briefly but ended up with the Mazda5. For me, the styling seemed much nicer, the tailgate much better designed (opens tall and has an even higher setting if you push it again), and the sliding rear doors a real practical advantage.

    Generally, though, I’m glad Kia is offering this car. These smaller “mini-minivans” offer 95% of the functionality those of us with small families need (2 kids, in my case) without the added weight, fuel cost, and parking difficulties of a full-sized minivan… now there’s an oxymoron for you. The third row on the Mazda is actually useful for adults on short trips and kids love sitting back there. Basically, the extra seats are nice to have if you need them once in a while butI wouldn’t buy one of these if I needed to use all three rows on a regular basis. With the third row up on either of these you give up most of the usable cargo space and it is a bit awkward to enter and exit the third row, especially if you have booster or infant seats in the middle seats.





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