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Avg. Price Paid:$6,028 - $7,465
Original MSRP: $16,395 - $20,195
MPG: 19 City / 26 Hwy
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2008 Kia Rondo Performance

These scores and this review are from when the car was new.

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

Surprisingly, most reviewers prefer the less powerful base engine to the optional V6. The New York Times reports "With the smaller engine, power is adequate. The stronger but slightly less fuel-efficient V6 hardly seems worth the extra cost ($1,000)." However, no matter what engine they prefer, most are disappointed that the Rondo only comes in traditional front-wheel drive -- despite the fact that most competitors offer all-wheel-drive capability.

Acceleration and Power

Under the hood, the 2008 Kia Rondo LX base model features a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine that puts out 162 horsepower. Also available on either trim is a 2.7-liter 182-hp V6. Kelley Blue Book classifies the engine choices as a "favorite feature," noting that they are both viable options: "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."

In fact, many reviewers feel the V6 isn't worth the extra money. Car and Driver says, "The 2.4-liter Hyundai/DaimlerChrysler four revved smoothly and willingly, the four-speed transmission doing just fine in spite of its modest gear count." MSN mentions the four-cylinder's "smoothness and decent power," while the Kansas City Star says the engine's 162 horsepower is "more than adequate."

Some reviewers, however, finds the base engine a bit sluggish and noisy -- and instead prefer the refinement of the V6. Edmunds notes that the V6's 182 horsepower puts it at the top of its class, commenting "the V6's responsive throttle and absence of harshness make it feel stronger than the numbers suggest." MSN concludes, "The 4-cylinder provides decent acceleration in town but doesn't have much punch for merging or passing despite working hard in those situations. The V6 is considerably stronger." And, for anyone adding the optional third row (which increases seating from five to seven) or planning on hauling a full load, reviewers say the V6 is a must. The Orlando Sentinel reviewer comments "If I carried adult passengers often, or quite a bit of cargo, I probably would want the V6's extra 20 horses."

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates fuel economy for the Rondo at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 on the highway with the base engine, and 18/26 mpg city/highway with the V6. Regular gasoline is recommended. Most find gas mileage decent, and Edmunds delights in the fact that "the tall 5th gear helps the Rondo V6 achieve almost the same EPA-rated mileage" as the base engine. However, others are less pleased. Cars.com cites "poor gas mileage" as one of the biggest gripes with performance, noting "[t]he EPA numbers are similar to those for front-wheel-drive compact SUVs like the CR-V and V-6-powered RAV4, but both of those SUVs are more refined on the road than the Rondo."

The base engine is paired with a four-speed automatic transmission, while the V6 upgrades to a five-speed automatic. No manual transmission is available, though both automatics feature Sportmatic clutchless manual shifting. Reviewers are virtually silent regarding transmission performance, though a few of them mention the practicality of the automatic for this type of car. Edmunds rhetorically asks "Who wants to shift a vehicle designed for stop-and-go utility?" and Newsday reports "fewer and fewer Americans are able to or even want to drive a stick shift."

When properly equipped, the Rondo can tow up to 1,000 pounds.

Handling and Braking

Reviewers generally feel the Rondo handles well -- though it isn't outstanding. Consumer Guide says it "handles like the midsize front-drive wagon it is" and the Los Angeles Times describes overall dynamics as "extravagant adequacy. It seems fairly settled and composed while cornering and the steering is direct. The ride quality is fair to good." Though handling is overwhelmingly viewed as decent, reviewers like MSN are quick to note "body lean in fast curves warns that the Rondo isn't a sports-oriented vehicle."

The Rondo rides on a platform identical to that of the Kia Optima sedan, contributing to a "remarkably smooth" carlike ride according to the Boston Globe. It features independent MacPherson suspension in the front and independent multi-link in the rear that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel finds "especially good, either with just the driver aboard or a full complement of five adults. No one complained about the car jarring or jostling..." Cars.com is even more complimentary, calling the ride "exceptional" and praising, "You could run errands in the Rondo all day with no backache."

Just a few reviewers point out shortcomings in ride feel, with the New York Times noting "...one outspoken passenger complained that bumps and potholes on New Jersey roads caused the Rondo (like the Mazda5) to ride like 'hay wagons.'" Newsday's reviewer similarly mentions, "My Rondo's ride was almost always comfortable -- the one exception was on some rough pavement on an interstate that made the Rondo a bouncing and unpleasant place to be for a few miles."

Reviewers are also generally pleased with the Rondo's power assisted rack-and-pinion steering and especially its tight turning radius. The Los Angeles Times says it "helps to be able to negotiate tight corners" and says the LX's 35.4-foot turning circle (which is 36.1 feet for EX) is "among the best in class." The Sacramento Bee calls steering "splendidly responsive" and Cars.com describes it as "intuitive."

When compared to competitor Mazda5, however, Car and Driver finds the Rondo's steering lacking: "Those interested in steering precision should start and stop their shopping at the Mazda store. Those interested in a smooth ride and an eerie absence of tire noise, even at highway speeds, should stick with Kia." A few others also note downsides, with Edmunds noting, "The Rondo doesn't handle quite as nimbly as the Mazda5" and Consumer Guide pointing out "some body lean in fast corners."

The Rondo's hydraulic power-assisted vacuum anti-lock brakes, complete with standard Electronic Stability Control, "provide a reassuring safety net in a variety of conditions" says Kelley Blue Book. Edmunds similarly reports "Braking distances are average, but the pedal action is nicely linear and gives the driver confidence that the Rondo will stop when required."

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