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2008 Kia Rondo

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2008 Kia Rondo Review

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Fresh from its introduction last year, Kia's 2008 Rondo boldly strides into the burgeoning crossover segment with little change. Affordable, flexible and offering both four- and six-cylinder power, plus room for five or seven passengers, this user-friendly front-wheel-drive hauler displays the kinds of features and options -- including standard stability control, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and the industry's longest and most comprehensive warranty package -- that have come to characterize most of Kia's current-generation products. While the Rondo's closest direct competitor would be the slightly smaller Mazda5, its cross-shopping potential encompasses everything from a Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chevrolet HHR or Dodge Caliber to front-wheel-drive versions of smaller SUVs like the Honda CR-V, Saturn VUE and Toyota RAV4.

You'll Like This Car If...

Matching versatility, value, safety and security, the 2008 Kia Rondo is a decidedly attractive choice for anyone in a one-vehicle household. The top-line EX, particularly when upgraded with the optional Leather and Premium Packages, makes a very inviting daily driver.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you truly believe that only bigger can really be better -- or just see a micro- minivan in the Rondo's silhouette -- you may still be part of Generation SUV and find more to love in an upsized, truck-based alternative.

What's New for 2008

No major changes for 2008.

Driving the Rondo
Driving Impressions

Although it has a slightly longer wheelbase and unique rear suspension, the Rondo shares a good deal of basic platform design with Kia's mid-size Optima sedan, which endows...

... it with a distinctly car-like feel. Ride comfort is good and, despite a somewhat taller profile, body roll is minimal and well controlled. Even the four-cylinder engine with the four-speed automatic transmission possesses sufficient force to get you through normal urban stop-and-go traffic and onto freeways at speed; however, the more potent V6 and five-speed automatic provides more enthusiastic acceleration and, in the bargain, includes a bigger wheel and tire package that makes for slightly sportier handling. In either case, the Rondo's standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) provide a reassuring safety net in a variety of conditions.

Choice of In-Line 4 and V6 Engines
While the available V6 offers more power and torque plus an extra gear in the automatic transmission with which it's paired, the four-cylinder engine has sufficient muscle to cope with lighter-duty chores and offers even better fuel economy and a lower base price.

Cargo-Friendly Rear Hatch
The Rondo's huge rear-hatch opening rivals that of many conventional SUVs. Its lower cutout margin extends all the way down to bumper level, making it particularly easy to load or unload larger, bulkier objects.

2008 Kia Rondo Details
Interior

Familiar Kia-style cues in the dash and center stack, a user-friendly demeanor and lots of cupholders and storage cubbies dominate the Rondo's nicely finished cabin. The LX and EX offer different grades of cloth upholstery, but both have standard seating for five in decently supportive front buckets and a 60/40 split-folding rear bench seat that can handle two adults or three younger folks with relative ease. Opt for the 50/50-split folding third-row seat (not available in a base LX or four-cylinder EX), and the second row adds nearly 12 inches of fore and aft travel that eases access to that third row. Configuring the Rondo in seven-passenger mode does cut rear storage space from over 30 cubic feet to not a lot more than about one medium-sized duffel bag, but folding both the second and third rows opens up a generous 70-plus cubic feet maximum capacity.

Exterior

The 2008 Kia Rondo's clean lines are highlighted by its curving roofline and a bias-cut rear side-window shape that imparts a bit more character to the generously proportioned glass. At the LX trim level, the accent elements are all rendered in black or body color, while items like the grille, door handles and side moldings are bright chrome on EX versions. Top-line Rondo models also get fog lamps, heated outside mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer. In keeping with a very welcome corporate practice, the Rondo's wheel and tire fitments are commendably generous, with LX models having H-rated 205/60 rubber on 16-inch standard aluminum wheels and EXs stepping up to V-rated Michelin 225/50 tires on 17-inch alloy rims.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2008 Kia Rondo has a long list of desirable features and, while the price-leader "base" LX doesn't offer roof rails and makes air conditioning an extra, even it comes with stability control, anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) and front and front-side airbags plus head-protection side curtains. All other Rondo variants include those items plus power windows/locks/mirrors, tilt steering column, auxiliary input jack, front and rear 12-volt power outlets and cupholders, six-way non-power driver's seat and 60/40-split folding rear bench. LX models get a four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio package while EXs add two more speakers and MP3 capability. The EX trim also has upgraded upholstery cloth, keyless remote entry, cruise control and leather accents on its shift knob and multifunction steering wheel.

Optional Equipment

The extras list for both Rondo lines is fairly modest. Single options include a body kit (fender flares and fascia extensions), upper and lower rear spoilers, rear bumper protector and a cargo shelf. Save for the base version, LXs can be ordered with a Convenience Package (cruise control, a multifunction steering wheel and keyless entry), third-row seat and roof-rail crossbars. EX buyers can step up even further with a Leather Package (leather seats, heated front seats) and Premium Package (power sunroof and premium 315-watt/11-speaker Infinity AM/FM/MP3 audio system with six-disc CD changer).

Under the Hood

Kia offers the Rondo with two engine and transmission combinations -- both also common with current or previous Optima models. Standard is a 2.4-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine. Fitted with efficiency-enhancing Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT), it makes 162 horsepower and 164 pound-feet of torque and is paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. The Rondo V6 models have the DOHC 2.7-liter unit that's also used in several other Kia vehicles and is backed by a five-speed automatic. It, too, is fortified with CVVT, and it cranks out 182 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. Both of the Rondo's automatic transmissions feature a Sportmatic gate to permit manual control of upshifts and downshifts.

2.4-liter in-line 4
162 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
164 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26

2.7-liter V6
182 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
182 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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