CHICAGO – Although the Kia Rondo I reviewed was a 2008 model, I thought it important to start looking a lot closer at small cars. After all, I think the driving public has been shocked into not wanting to get caught again with a gas guzzling sizable vehicle that is more about ego than need.
I drove a 2008 Kia Rondo from Detroit here to attend an automotive conference and visit family and friends during a long weekend. Overall, the drive was not a bad experience.
The Kia Rondo EXV6 was powered by a small six cylinder engine that made 182 horsepower and it was mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. It was a capable powerplant for normal driving. However, it did lack some oomph once when I had to get up to speed quickly getting on an expressway.
On the Interstate as well as surface streets the Kia handled really well. In fact, it took me a while to realize that there wasn't a lot of play in the steering. My direction changed with just the slightest move of the steering wheel.
The ride was fairly smooth, the suspension was firm but not harsh and overall the car handled well on the Interstate and surface streets. For a small vehicle there was not much road noise but there was a bit of wind noise high on the windshield. Still, the Kia Ronda which looked like a small minivan was relatively quiet.
It tracked well. In other words, I didn't have to constantly adjust the steering wheel to keep it straight and in those long sweeping curves, I could choose a path and the Rondo pretty much stuck to it.
My overall take on the interior was that it was rather bland, a dull black. There was nothing aesthetically pleasing about it. But it didn't look or feel cheap. The dials and buttons were easy to reach and easy to read.
I was really impressed with the Kia Rondo's equipment. It seemed to me to be a sign of what's to come: small, good looking cars with the sort of equipment you‘d find in midsize sedans.
My test vehicle had heated front seats, the second row seats were adjustable and the third row seats folded flush creating a flat cargo floor. That's right; the Rondo had three rows of seats. However, I'd say the third row was for kids and the second row was not for really long hauls. Those seats were hard. Plus, there was no center arm rest.
The Rondo also featured adjustable headrests for the front seats. It had an audio system that featured a six disc in dash CD with MP3 capability and an auxiliary jack in the center console that I promptly found for my iPod. There was also a 12 volt socket in the console. I found particularly interesting the fact that my test car had a cigarette lighter but no ashtray. It didn't really matter because I don't smoke.
As I approached here, I stopped for gas in Indiana. It always cost much less there than here. The Rondo had burned about three quarters of a tank. That wasn't bad but it wasn't outstanding either.
It seemed to me that the four cylinder Rondo might have fared better. It no doubt cost less and got more miles per gallon. The smaller engine generated 20 horsepower less than the V6 so what do you really lose in terms of power?
The EXV6 had an EPA rating of 18/26 mpg in the city and on the highway. The Rondo seemed to be a well built reliable compact car. Based priced at $20,195, options pushed to the total of my rest car up to $23,495.