NEW FOR 2008:

– EX and EX-V6 models available with optional three-row seating
– Auxiliary audio jack added
– Enhanced anti-theft engine immobilizer
– Ashtray deleted

A new model to the North American market in 2007, the Kia Rondo expands its capacity for 2008, adding optional third-row seating to the EX and EX-V6 models; in 2007, only the Premium and Luxury models had the extra row.

Based on the Magentis platform, the Rondo is sold in international markets as the Carens and was first launched in 1999; it came to Canada when the Carens was redesigned for 2007.

Engine choices are a 2.4-litre four-cylinder with four-speed automatic, or 2.7-litre V6 with five-speed automatic. Both transmissions have manual shift mode. The LX, EX and EX Premium use the four-cylinder, while the EX-V6 and EX-V6 Luxury use the 2.7-litre. Only the LX offers five-passenger seating only; the EX and EX-V6 come in five- or seven-passenger seating, while the EX Premium and EX-V6 Luxury are seven-passenger only.

Features on the LX include 16-inch alloy wheels, CD stereo with auxiliary jack, tilt wheel, power locks, power windows, 60/40 split-folding second-row seat, floor mats, and variable intermittent wipers.

The EX adds air conditioning, cruise control, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, keyless entry, wiper de-icers, fog lamps, and heated seats. The optional third-row seats are 50/50 split flat-folding.

The EX Premium adds 17-inch alloy wheels, power sunroof, and leather upholstery.

The EX-V6 is equipped similarly to the four-cylinder EX.

The EX-V6 Luxury is equipped similarly to the EX Premium, but adds automatic climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat and a trip computer.

A rear-seat DVD entertainment system with ten-inch screen can be added to non-sunroof models (the LX, EX and EX-V6) for $995.

Possibly the most underrated compact hatchback on the market, the Rondo offers a smooth ride, good steering feel, appealing styling, easy-fold seats, good visibility, and good value for its price-tag.

As is common with vehicles this size, the Rondo’s third row is cramped and suitable mostly for small children. Buyers who aren’t planning on hauling a full load most of the time may want to opt for the four-cylinder, which offers only 20 hp less than the V6, and with a lower buy-in and better fuel economy.

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