2008 Kia Rondo EX-V6 Luxury
2008 Kia Rondo EX-V6 Luxury. Click image to enlarge

More Kia Rondo reviews at Autos.ca

Manufacturer’s web site
Kia Canada

Review and photos by Chris Chase

Kia added the Rondo, a sort of mini-minivan, to its line-up in 2007 as a response to the Mazda5 that had gone on sale here a year earlier. The Kia’s main differences were its swing-out rear doors (to the Mazda’s sliders) and a choice of five- and seven-seat configurations, against the Mazda’s standard six-seat setup.

At the time, it looked like a resurgence in popularity for a type of vehicle that had disappeared more than 10 years before either of these cars appeared here, but it’s only now that a handful of other carmakers are considering bringing their own interpretations of the small van/tall wagon concept to market.

Vehicles like the Rondo are more popular here than in the U.S., where Kia has announced the Rondo’s discontinuation. It will soldier on here for the moment, but it’s unclear when, or even if, a next-generation model might make it to Canadian dealers.

2008 Kia Rondo EX-V6 Luxury
2008 Kia Rondo EX-V6 Luxury. Click image to enlarge

From its debut, the Rondo was offered with a choice of 2.4-litre four-cylinder and 2.7-litre V6 engines, lifted directly from the Magentis sedan. Power numbers in 2007 were 162 hp/164 lb.-ft. of torque for the 2.4-litre, and 182 hp/182 lb.-ft. with the V6. The four-cylinder got an automatic transmission with the same number of gears, and the V6 was paired with a five-speed auto; no manual was offered.

Minor engine revisions in 2009 brought more power for both engines. The four-cylinder now had 175 hp/169 lb.-ft., and the V6 boasted 192 hp/184 lb.-ft.

In 2010, navigation was offered as an option on the top-trim V6 model. For 2011 models, the only obvious change was a new “tiger-nose” grille to tie the Rondo’s appearance more closely to that of Kia’s other more recently-redesigned models.

Fuel consumption was rated by Natural Resources Canada’s ratings at 11/7.5 L/100 km (city/highway) with the four-cylinder, and 11.6/7.7 when fitted with the V6. Jil McIntosh got 10.3 L/100 km in combined winter driving in a 2011 model, and James Bergeron recorded 13 L/100km in the same 2008 test vehicle I drove way back in 2007, in the same hostile winter conditions. (My own test drive of that car can be found here.)

2008 Kia Rondo EX-V6 Luxury
2008 Kia Rondo EX-V6 Luxury. Click image to enlarge

From what I can recall of a very snowy week in 2007 that involved more sitting in traffic than real driving, the Rondo is pleasant vehicle with behaviour that echoes its styling: pleasant and practical, but ultimately forgettable. It was obvious that Kia was leaving the sporting side of this segment to the Mazda5, and gunning, as usual, for more value-conscious buyers. My only major gripe was with the traction control, which was annoyingly intrusive in slippery conditions. My tester’s all-season tires were useless on snow and ice, so a good set of winter tires probably would have made a notable difference.

Through nearly five full years on the market, the Rondo appears to be proving itself a reliable little do-it-all vehicle, earning an above-average used vehicle rating from Consumer Reports. There aren’t many trouble spots to watch for.

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