NEW FOR 2009:

– Horsepower and torque improvements over 2007 model
– New Base + Air Conditioning trim line
– Available Sirius satellite radio and Bluetooth hands-free communication
– Cigarette lighter, rear console cupholder and ashtray, and windshield sun band deleted
– Fuel filler door changed from automatic to manual type
– Exterior colours: Tomato Red replaces Volcanic Red; Moon Light Blue replaces Indigo Blue; Titanium Silver replaces Urban Grey; Bright Silver replaces Fine Silver; Java Brown added
– Interior colours: Grey discontinued; black is now standard

For 2009, the Kia Rondo undergoes several changes, including a horsepower boost. The four-cylinder goes from 162 horsepower to 175, and from 164 lb-ft of torque to 169 lb-ft, while the V6 goes from 182 horsepower to 192, and from 182 lb-ft of torque to 184 lb-ft. Other changes include the addition of Sirius satellite radio and Bluetooth to some models, and some trim item deletions.

Based on the Magentis platform, the Rondo is sold as the Carens in other international markets, where its first generation was launched in 1999.

The Rondo comes with a choice of 2.4-litre four-cylinder with four-speed automatic, or 2.7-litre V6 with five-speed automatic, both with manual shift mode. Trim lines for the 2.4-litre are the five-seater LX, the five- or seven-seater EX, and the seven-seater EX Premium; the 2.7-litre comes as the five- or seven-seater EX-V6, and as the seven-seater EX-V6 Luxury.

Features on the LX include 16-inch alloy wheels, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input and USB slot, tilt column, power locks, power windows with driver’s side auto-down, variable intermittent wipers, front and rear mud guards, body-colour door handles, cloth seats, active front head-restraints, driver’s manual height adjuster, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, and floor mats. Air conditioning can be added as an extra-charge option.

The EX model adds air conditioning, cruise control, wheel-mounted audio controls, two tweeter speakers, keyless entry, windshield wiper de-icer, fog lamps, roof rails, chrome door handles, and heated front seats. The seven-passenger models include a 50/50 split-folding third-row seat.

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

The EX-V6 is equipped similarly to the EX.

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

A rear-seat DVD entertainment system with ten-inch screen can be added to models without a sunroof; at $695, it’s $300 less than for 2008.

Possibly the most underrated compact hatchback on the market, the Rondo provides a smooth ride, good steering feel, handsome styling, easy-fold seats, and good value, especially with its long warranty. As is common for this size, the third row is cramped and suitable mostly for small children. The four-cylinder model works very well and should be popular with buyers who want a lower price-tag and smaller fuel economy numbers.

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