More than any car

2014 Kia Rondo First Impressions

By Mathieu St-Pierre
2014 Kia Rondo First Impressions

Summary Rating: 79%

Styling

Rating Stars

Accessories

Rating Stars

Space and Access

Rating Stars

Comfort

Rating Stars

Performance

Rating Stars

Driving Dynamics

Rating Stars

Safety

Rating Stars

General Appreciation

Rating Stars
Making it attractive
Houston, TX - It has become ludicrous not to expect something great from the Korean giant that is Kia. At its North American premiere at the 2013 CIAS, the 2014 Kia Rondo was (in my eyes) an instant hit. Having only seen it, I was convinced it was going to be great.

The 2014 Kia Rondo pushes the design theme to a whole other level, thus completing the modernization of Kia’s entire lineup. The new car is smashing to behold, the cabin is nothing short of stunning with great seats. Unfortunately, sentiments change drastically once on the road.


What is a Kia Rondo?

The 2014 Kia Rondo is a compact crossover that may moonlight as a minivan, but lacks the signature sliding doors found on its principal rival, the Mazda5. Without moving away from its family-hauler vocation, the new Rondo is a more modern and dynamic product than previous generations.

The Kia Rondo has been a small minivan substitute since its arrival in 2007, shortly after the 2006 Mazda5’s debut. From that moment on, both have claimed strong sales from a consumer base looking for compact and economic alternatives to the large minivan.

The new Rondo offers a wider spectrum of kit and luxuries than it ever has. Without forgetting budget-minded families, the 2014 Kia Rondo is now offered with widely available niceties such as a panoramic sunroof and a navigation system.

2014 Kia Rondo 3/4 view
The 2014 Kia Rondo is a compact crossover that may moonlight as a minivan, but lacks the signature sliding doors. (Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre)

Technicalities
The 2014 Kia Rondo, like most other Kia and Hyundai products, drops the V6 engine option. Moving forward is now insured by a GDI 2.0L inline 4-cylinder engine. It produces 164 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque, down 11 and 13 respectively from the outgoing 2.4L in the 2012 model.

A 6-speed manual ‘box is standard in the base LX. A 6-speed automatic transmission is included with all other trims. Kia’s electric flex steer power steering and a front independent rear semi-independent suspension are par for the course.

The base 2014 Kia Rondo LX retails for $21,695. The loaded EX-Luxury claims $32,195 from a potential buyer. The expected bestselling LX automatic version has a sticker price of $23,995.

2014 Kia Rondo engine
Moving forward is now insured by a GDI 2.0L inline 4-cylinder engine. It produces 164 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque, down 11 and 13 respectively from the outgoing 2.4L in the 2012 model. (Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre)

Driving the Kia Rondo
On paper, the drop in displacement and power seem detrimental to the 2014 Kia Rondo’s performance. Truthfully, the Rondo is adequate (and will be for most families) at best when merging and passing.

What works in favour of the output drop is the well geared autobox and the new Rondo’s slight drop in curb weight. The upside is a theoretical 15% improvement in fuel consumption from the old.

Much attention was given to the 2014 Kia Rondo’s ride and handling. In fact, all of the tuning was done by Kia of America in California and Michigan. Although the ride is smooth, there were a few issues.

Most of the road we travelled was flat, even and with hardly any curves. The few I encountered were met with a lag-y, disconnected steering feel even in Sport mode (Flex Steer: Comfort/Normal/Sport). In the other two modes, assistance is nearly exaggerated.

Furthermore, the few rough patches of pavement we came across revealed a suspension that experienced difficulty managing rapid changes in amplitude be it with the 16” or 17” wheels.

Few noises permeated the quiet cabin. The most present came from the base of the windshield, thanks in no small part to the enormous wipers.

2014 Kia Rondo shifter
What works in favour of the output drop is the well geared autobox and the new Rondo’s slight drop in curb weight. (Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre)

Inside and out of the Kia Rondo
The new 2014 Kia Rondo conquers aesthetically. Surrounded by its immediate competition, the Rondo stands shoulders above. The broad and bold beltline wraps around the entire car, capturing the brand’s signature grille and large projector headlights.

Front and second row passengers will find comfort. Those up front are treated to a well designed and appointed dashboard replete with nice materials and a straightforward HMI experience.

The front seats are really comfortable, offering unexpected side bolstering and, when leather-clad, an extendable lower seat cushion. The rear bench will accommodate three adults or any mix including kids and baby seats.

The available 3rd row in the 7-passenger version is a toddler’s delight. Access to the 50/50 split-folding bench is difficult at best for an average, slim-ish adult. As I’m not slim-ish, I decided not to crawl in the rear for fear of never returning.

With the 3rd row folded, the trunk is quite capacious. The opposite is very true when it is up.

Kia Rondo 2014 habitacle conducteur
The new 2014 Kia Rondo conquers aesthetically. Surrounded by its immediate competition, the Rondo stands shoulders above. (Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre)

Comparing the Kia Rondo

The 2014 Kia Rondo matches and surpasses all of its competition, namely the Dodge Journey and Chevrolet Orlando.

It also crushes them where value and equipment, fit and finish are concerned. Unfortunately, and unlike other recent Kia products I’ve evaluated, it does nothing to move the driving experience forward.

In the end, it is more family oriented than any car on the road at moment.

The 2014 Kia Rondo is on sale now.


No comments