Drive

The Kia Rondo is a smooth-riding option to accommodate the whole clan

2014 Kia Rondo

• Type. Four-door, front-wheel drive compact 5 or 7-passenger wagon

• Engines (hp). 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder with direct gasoline engine (164)

• Transmissions. Six-speed manual, six-speed automatic

• Base price (incl. destination). $23,460

I’ve always been fond of the so-called “tall wagon,” a hatchback that combines the upright seating and practicality of a minivan or SUV, but with the compact footprint of a small car. The Kia Rondo fits the bill, in five-passenger seating, or with an optional third row for seven people.

There are three trim levels, and all use a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine that makes 164 horsepower, and 156 lb.-ft. of torque. The base LX trim starts at $21,795 and comes with a six-speed manual transmission, but it’s there for price, not sportiness. Most buyers will opt for the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic, optional on the LX, and the only choice on the EX and EX Luxury trims.

The Rondo is spacious and comfortable, while the top-of-the-line seven-seat trim level includes such features as parking sensors, panoramic sunroof, and heated and cooled leather seats for $30,795, with navigation further available as an option.

It isn’t the most fun-to-drive car on the market, but the ride is smooth, and it handles corners without feeling tippy despite its height. It’s also confident and well-planted on the highway, and you can switch the electric power steering to feel lighter or more weighted, depending on your preference. It’s also very quiet, thanks to a considerable amount of sound-deadening material, and visibility is excellent all the way around.

Kia put a lot of thought into the interior, with numerous little items to make life easier for families. The EX models have integrated rear-window sunshades, eliminating the need to use suction-cup versions to protect children from the sun, and there’s a rechargeable flashlight in the cargo area. If you get the five-seat model, there’s a large, covered storage bin under the cargo floor.

As with most tall wagons, it’s easy to get in and out, especially for children or elderly passengers. The third-row’s seats are nicely cushioned, but there’s really only enough space for children.

Good-looking and thoughtfully engineered, the Rondo could well be a practical alternative to an SUV for many families.

Market position

Despite the popularity of larger crossover vehicles, these tall hatchbacks offer an excellent alternative for those who prefer a compact vehicle. The Rondo’s features and quiet ride make it a standout in the category.

Points

  • 5-year/100,000 km warranty covers almost everything on the Rondo, while wear items such as wiper blades and brake pads have 1-year/20,000 km coverage.

  • Completely redesigned for 2013, the Rondo is currently offered in Canada, but no longer in the United States.

  • Fuel consumption of 9.2 L/100 km city and 6.3 highway (with automatic transmission) is best among its direct competitors.

Safety

Front, side, and curtain airbags; brake assist and distribution; hill assist control; vehicle stability control; rear view camera and parking sensors on EX trims.

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