Breaking its segment's trends, the Rondo has conventional front-opening doors and is much smaller than most other vans. It slots below Kia's larger Sedona and competes with the other mini-minivan on the market, the Mazda5. Introduced in 2007, the only change for the 2008 Rondo is the deletion of the cassette player and the addition of an auxiliary input jack for MP3 players and other audio devices.
With an optional third-row bench, the Rondo can seat seven. The Rondo is available in base LX or top-of-the-line EX trim levels. Each comes with a choice of a four-cylinder engine or a small V-6.
Unlike its Mazda competitor, the Rondo's friendly face has few edges. A two-tier grille sits between large headlights, and openings at each side of the bumper can house optional fog lights. The lower bumper shows the Rondo's only sign of aggression — a sharp air dam that's probably bigger than it needs to be.
The Rondo LX comes with 16-inch alloy wheels and body-colored exterior moldings, while the EX has 17-inch rims and chrome moldings. An accessory body kit, which includes fender flares and ground effects, adds some visual flare.
At 179 inches long and 71.7 inches wide, the Rondo is slightly shorter and wider than the Mazda5.
The friendly styling continues inside, where round dashboard panels and rounder air vents greet the driver. The gauges and center controls have orange illumination. Although there isn't as much storage space up front as there is in larger minivans, the Rondo does have some innovative solutions, including a dashboard shelf atop the glove compartment that strangely reappears to the left of the steering wheel.
Two standard rows of seats accommodate five. A third row can fit two more, though larger passengers won't want to climb back there. The second- and third-row seats fold nearly flat, and Rondos without the third row offer several partitioned compartments under the load floor.
Standard features in the Rondo LX include power windows, locks and mirrors, as well as a four-speaker CD stereo. LX buyers should be aware of Kia's tendency to leave the evidence where optional equipment would have gone; without the optional steering-wheel audio controls, for instance, the steering wheel features blank plastic buttons on its left side.
The EX adds remote keyless entry, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and a six-speaker stereo, among other things. Further options include heated leather seats and an Infinity six-CD stereo.
Under the Hood
A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 162 horsepower and 164 pounds-feet of torque; it works through a four-speed automatic transmission. Optional on either trim level is a 2.7-liter V-6, which makes 182 hp and 182 pounds-feet of torque. It uses a five-speed automatic. Both transmissions have a gated shifter with a manual-shift mode — something few drivers will likely use, given the type of car this is.
The Rondo's full complement of standard safety features includes side-impact and side curtain airbags, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes and an electronic stability system.