Rondo puts a new, stylish face on Kia

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Rondo, Kia's new small crossover, represents what is supposed to be the first of a wave of new products from the Korean company that it hopes will entice buyers on style as much as on value and safety .

Built on the same platform as Kia's all-new Optima, the Rondo is powered either by a 2.4 liter four or a 2.7 liter V-6. Both offer relatively strong performance when you consider the modest sizes of the engines. Fuel mileage figures for the four are 21/29 and 20/27 for the V-6.

The 2007 Kia Rondo.
Click photo for larger image.

Standard equipment includes a four speed or five speed automatic transmission, depending on whether you order the V-6 or the four. It also has standard full length side curtain air bags, antilock brakes, stability control, lots of cup holders and cubbies, map and dome lights and a tilt steering wheel .

But the Rondo's big claim to fame will be that it is the cheapest seven-passenger crossover on the market, although it is also available in a five passenger version. The second row space comes to 40.2 inches of headroom and 38.2 inches of legroom with either version. When you order the third row, you can adjust the second row seat by moving it forward or backward by nearly a foot to provide more room for passengers or luggage. That really opens things up on the third row for passengers.

I enjoyed my drive in the Rondo and found it to be capable, quiet, and even lively with the four cylinder engine. I think it's going to be hard to justify spending extra for the V-6, in fact, because of the smaller engine's robust performance. And as you might suspect, quality control and choice of materials continues to be a strong point for Kia, as exemplified in its newest, the Rondo. Prices start at $16,395 and end at about $20,195.


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