2014 Kia Rondo
2014 Kia Rondo
2014 Kia Rondo. Click image to enlarge

Review and Photos by Tom Sedens

Need some serious space? Minivan options got you down? Prefer something more compact and smarter? Maybe the Kia Rondo is what you’re looking for.

They should have awards for Most Improved Everything in the automotive world. Because the 2014 Kia Rondo would be a contender. A serious contender. Though nobody would contest the previous Rondo’s utility, it was a nasty looking thing and didn’t come across as a particularly luxurious or advanced vehicle. But this one? This is a whole different story.

Kia puts its 2.0L direct injection four-cylinder under the “bonnet”. It’s a healthy step up from the ubiquitous 1.8L four, putting out 164 horsepower at 6,500 RPM and 156 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 RPM. A six-speed automatic transmission dishes out the power to the front wheels.

The car isn’t a total lightweight at 1,581 kilograms (3,485 pounds). It’s rated for reasonable fuel economy – 9.2 L/100 km (26 mpg) in the city and 6.3 L/100 km (37 mpg) on the highway. I have to say I was a bit disappointed in my average of 10.5 L/100 km (22 mpg) during a week of heavy driving. Most of the time was spent in the city, but it did get a little highway work-out too.

2014 Kia Rondo2014 Kia Rondo
2014 Kia Rondo. Click image to enlarge

The previous Rondo couldn’t be a looker from any angle. I don’t think it even tried to be honest. Thankfully, Kia took a huge chisel to it and the new one ended up with a nice clean shape. The modern lines are pleasing from most angles. The shape doesn’t belie its mission to move people and stuff, yet it has a fun, sporty and even slightly aggressive edge to it. Every single person that came to check it out – and there were a lot of them – was appreciative of the styling.

The front end has nice headlight pods, stuffed with xenon HIDs and nifty LED daytime running lights. Heck, in this trim you even get headlight washer nozzles. The rear end is similarly imbued with high-end goodies, sporting LED tail lights. The package is completed with handsome 18-inch alloy rims and meaty 225/45-sized rubber.

2014 Kia Rondo
2014 Kia Rondo. Click image to enlarge

The Rondo’s interior benefits from some nice materials – most of the dash is soft-touch plastic and there are extra touches, like the door panels getting upholstered in perforated leather-like material. The bright white LED lighting throughout the interior takes it up a notch too.

The heated steering wheel that wouldn’t be out of place in a sports car – it has a thick rim and a perfect diameter, with controls for cruise, media, the driver information screen, phone, handsfree and steering modes. The two main gauges are separated by a strangely named supervision cluster – a nice, sharp LCD screen with plenty of driver information.

The heated leather seats are great in terms of comfort and actually have a decent amount of bolstering. The driver’s side is also cooled and power-adjustable, including a powered extendable seat cushion! At the top of the centre stack is a nice screen that manages the media system, phone functions, navigation and back-up camera – parking is further augmented by audible front and rear parking sensors. The media system offers a plethora of sources and the upgraded audio system sounds pretty good. I found the voice recognition to be very accurate and relatively quick. The bottom of the stack holds the dual-zone automatic climate control.

The Rondo’s centre console is home to the gear selector, two cupholders and an electronic parking brake. I liked that all four windows were auto open/close – a little touch that remains elusive in cars twice this one’s price. There’s also a smart key for keyless entry and a push-start ignition. Oh, and lest we forget, potentially the biggest panoramic sunroof I’ve ever seen.

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