2010 Kia Rondo Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 2, 2010

You likely won’t be drawn to the 2010 Kia Rondo because of its looks, but you’re likely to see it in a different light if you do your research first.

In order to bring you this comprehensive Bottom Line summary of the 2010 Kia Rondo, the editors of TheCarConnection.com have driven the Rondo and report on how it drives and stacks up to other people-movers. Then to give you the most information for an informed purchase decision, TheCarConnection.com has read a range of other reviews, bringing you highlights in the adjacent Full Review.

Whether you see it as an interesting alternative to the traditional minivan or a tall-roof hatchback or wagon, the 2010 Kia Rondo remains a unique vehicle in the market. With an unbelievably roomy, minivan-like interior layout—in five- or seven-passenger seating—paired with backdoors that are hinged, not sliding, the 2010 Kia Rondo is definitely a little weird-looking but redeems itself for a number of reasons.

The Rondo is built for room, not for sex appeal, with its tall, bulbous profile and five-door configuration eking three available rows of seating out of a footprint that’s barely larger than that of a compact car. From some angles the Rondo appears downright awkward, but the rounded silhouette looks reasonably attractive, thanks to its overall simplicity and lack of gimmicky details. Inside, too, the emphasis is on functionality, with an unremarkable instrument panel design that locates the shifter at the bottom, not as part of the center console.

The 2010 Kia Rondo certainly won’t win any drag races. Powertrain options remain a 175-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder or 192-hp, 2.7-liter V-6. Between the two, there’s very little difference in actual thrust, so we recommend the more affordable four-cylinder engine, which is smooth and slightly more fuel-efficient. Both engines are paired with an automatic transmission that shifts smoothly and comes with a +/- shift gate for manual control. Maneuverability is very impressive in the Rondo, and it’s especially easy to park, but it doesn’t handle with the sharpness of the better minivans or sport wagons.

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Moving people and their stuff around in relative comfort is what the 2010 Kia Rondo does best; although a third row of seating is available, it’s designed for children, not adults. Overall, the seating arrangement is fuss-free and helps maximize space, with the second row sliding fore and aft for better access to the third row or a better balance of legroom between rows. Storage space hasn’t been forgotten either; there are lots of small cubbies, along with an impressive recessed tray below the cargo floor. The materials used in the Rondo aren’t that impressive—they’re definitely of the type you’d see in a cut-rate small car—but it feels well put-together and has a smooth ride, free from excess road or wind noise.

The Rondo comes with a good set of standard safety features, including electronic stability control and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, plus front side and full-length head-curtain airbags. Safety features are quite good, too. In federal tests, the Rondo earns five stars for frontal impact and four- and five-star results for side and rear impact.

Value for the money is a strong reason to consider the 2010 Rondo, which has one of the better new-car warranties and a strong list of standard features. Kia's coverage ranges up to 10 years or 100,000 miles on powertrain and 5 years/50,000 miles on almost everything else. Even at the base level, the Rondo comes with power windows, locks, and mirrors, and the LX adds air conditioning and a roof rack, among other features. Third-row seating is included with the top-of-the-line EX, which also gets 17-inch alloy wheels, plus fog lamps, upgraded upholstery, keyless entry, and an upgraded sound system.

5

2010 Kia Rondo

Styling

Ungainly to some, functional to others, the styling of the 2010 Kia Rondo is uninspired.

The Rondo is built for room, not for sex appeal, with its tall, bulbous profile and five-door configuration eking three available rows of seating out of a footprint that’s barely larger than that of a compact car. From some angles, the Rondo appears downright awkward, but the rounded silhouette looks reasonably attractive, thanks to its overall simplicity and lack of gimmicky details.

Car and Driver doesn’t have kind words for the Rondo’s look, likening it to a "soccer mom" vehicle and saying that "the Rondo ain't no Corvette in terms of sex appeal." Cars.com looks to the Rondo’s “friendly face," and notes that there are “few edges,” with the only "sign of aggression" being a "sharp air dam that's probably bigger than it needs to be." Car and Driver adds that "even with all the tack-ons, no Rondo seems capable of setting our loins ablaze."

But the 2010 Rondo is a vehicle that lays no claims on being particularly fashionable; utility and practicality are its game. New York Newsday calls it "reasonably stylish," and Kelley Blue Book deems it "an attractive choice...a very inviting daily driver"—although TheCarConnection.com notes that these comments go beyond the vehicle's appearance, while the New York Times describes the Rondo's appearance as "an attractive design" with a qualifier: "the boxy shape shouts minivan."

Inside, too, the emphasis is functionality, with an unremarkable instrument panel design that locates the shifter at the bottom, not as part of the center console. Edmunds states that the vehicle lacks "pizzazz," but it praises the interior, as does the New York Times, which calls it "attractive and functional."

More than one source praises visibility from behind the wheel, including Edmunds, deeming it "good."

7

2010 Kia Rondo

Performance

There’s nothing remarkable here; the Rondo performs well for most family needs. 

The 2010 Kia Rondo certainly won’t win any drag races. Powertrain options remain a 175-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder or 192-hp, 2.7-liter V-6. Between the two, there’s very little difference in actual thrust, so we recommend the more affordable four-cylinder engine, which is smooth and slightly more fuel-efficient.

Not everyone thinks that the V-6 isn’t worth the extra money, though. With the four-cylinder engine, ConsumerGuide deems the Rondo’s performance just "adequate" when starting out, but also reports that it "struggles to gather speed for passing and merging." The V-6 option doesn't seem to make a lot of difference around town, but it proves "meaningfully stronger at highway speed." MotorWeek calls the larger engine rough running and noisy, however. The New York Times agrees that the smaller engine is just adequate but suggests that the "stronger but slightly less fuel-efficient V-6 hardly seems worth the extra cost [of $1,000]." Regardless, Cars.com says that the difference in fuel economy isn’t significant. EPA ratings are 20 mpg city, 27 highway with the four but 18/26 mpg with the V-6. In 20,000 miles of combined driving, MotorWeek reports "a mediocre 21.8 miles per gallon," and the "base four-cylinder does better."

Both engines are paired with an automatic transmission that shifts smoothly and comes with a +/- shift gate for manual control. Car and Driver says the "V-6 felt comparatively gruff," and "the transmission didn't help significantly."

Don’t expect anything pulse-quickening about the way the 2010 Kia Rondo handles either. According to Kelley Blue Book, the lack of body roll makes it quite capable, if not fun, while Cars.com reports that braking is solid—though the Rondo tends to nosedive during hard braking.

8

2010 Kia Rondo

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Kia Rondo offers a very versatile interior and lots of passenger comfort for a relatively low price. 

Moving people and their stuff around in relative comfort is what the 2010 Kia Rondo does best; although a third row of seating is available, it’s designed for children, not adults. Overall, the seating arrangement is fuss-free and helps maximize space, with the second row sliding fore and aft for better access to the third row or a better balance of legroom between rows. New York Newsday praises the adjustable seats, saying that they "emerged remarkably ache-free after a couple of two-hour stints behind the wheel," but they do suggest that lateral support leaves something to be desired.

Storage space hasn’t been forgotten either; there are lots of small cubbies, along with an impressive recessed tray below the cargo floor. The interior has "more mystery compartments and fuzzy cubby holes than the Winchester Mystery House,” reports Jalopnik.

In the experience of TheCarConnection.com’s editors, the materials used in the Rondo aren’t that impressive—they’re definitely of the type you’d see in a cut-rate small car—but it feels well put-together and has a smooth ride, free from excess road or wind noise. However, ConsumerGuide concludes that "interior materials and assembly quality [are] impressive for the price, with leather seating appearing especially upscale...good head and leg room."

Ride quality is another positive in the 2010 Kia Rondo. However, New York Newsday asserts that the "Rondo's ride was almost always comfortable," though noting that when driving over some rough pavement at highway speed, the Rondo Kia is "a bouncing and unpleasant place to be." On the other hand, Jalopnik reports a cushy ride, saying that the suspension is "geared towards multiple human comfort over taut steering response," but doesn't comment on any of these unpleasantries.

Overall, while reviewers are quite unanimous in declaring the Rondo a good passenger vehicle, some are quick to point out that it defies classification. "Our Kia Rondo is the perfect crossover," says MotorWeek. "So much so most don't know what it is."

9

2010 Kia Rondo

Safety

The 2010 Kia Rondo should be a safe and secure family hauler.

The Rondo comes with a good set of standard safety features, including electronic stability control and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, plus front side and full-length head-curtain airbags. Safety features are quite good, too.

In federal tests, the Rondo earns five stars for frontal impact and four- and five-star results for side and rear impact. However, the Rondo hasn't been tested by the insurance-supported IIHS.

The New York Times reports that the "Kia has loaded an impressive number of standard safety features into this inexpensive family hauler, including electronic stability control, tire-pressure monitors, four-wheel antilock disc brakes and six air bags."

MotorWeek notes that visibility in back isn't great for parking, saying "a backup camera is sorely needed."

Canadian Driver points out that the Rondo's stability and traction control system is sensitive to the point of being intrusive: If the "system senses some slip, it cuts some engine power...leaving you stranded at the corner," the reviewer reports. This can be a problem in snowy or icy conditions. Jalopnik confirms this impression: "traction control kicks in if you push too hard, and causes an odd wha'happen sensation."

Fortunately, drivers can shut this feature off if necessary to get out of a snowy driveway, though adding winter tires might be a better option.

8

2010 Kia Rondo

Features

The 2010 Kia Rondo is a hit for those who want a well-equipped family vehicle at a low price, but it misses the mark on a few counts, including the lack of a telescopic steering wheel.

The 2010 Rondo, like most vehicles from Kia, comes with a generous list of standard features at a low price, but it doesn't have a lot of available options.

The base model starts at around $17,000, but even for a fully loaded Kia Rondo, New York Newsday says that one would be "hard pressed to spend more than $25,000."

Even at the base level, the Rondo comes with power windows, locks, and mirrors, and the LX adds air conditioning and a roof rack, among other features. Third-row seating is included with the top-of-the-line EX, which also gets 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, upgraded upholstery, keyless entry, and an upgraded sound system.

An input jack for an MP3 player or other audio devices comes standard on the Rondo, and an upgraded system with Sirius Satellite Radio is optional, along with an iPod connector.

Standard on all EX models are steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, leather trim, illuminated vanity mirrors, heated seats, and metal-finish interior door handles. And available only on EX models is an eight-speaker Infinity sound and navigation system.

There's one feature sorely missing—depending on your physique and driving position. Canadian Driver notes the lack of a telescoping steering wheel in the Rondo.

Value for the money is a strong reason to consider the 2010 Rondo, which has one of the better new-car warranties and a strong list of standard features. Kia's coverage ranges up to 10 years or 100,000 miles on the powertrain and 5 years/50,000 miles on almost everything else.

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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 5.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 9.0
Features 8.0
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