THE RIDE: Four-door, five- to seven-passenger 2007 Kia Rondo EX midsize crossover SUV.
DOWN THE ROAD: Based on a steel unibody construction, this all-new vehicle from Kia is a welcome addition to the growing crossover segment. The front-wheel-drive vehicle soaks up bumps while maintaining equilibrium with confidence. It isn't a workhorse but you'll be complimenting its road-handling capabilities.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: The 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine develops 162 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 164 pounds-feet of torque at 4250 rpm. Power is put to the road via a responsive 4-speed automatic transmission. Suspension duties are capably handled by a MacPherson strut with coil springs in the front and a low-mount multilink independent rear. A hydraulic power rack-and-pinion steering system allows the Rondo a turning circle of 36.10 inches. Eleven-inch vented front and 10.8-inch solid rear disc brakes come into play during a slowdown or a stop.
LOOK & FEEL: A chrome grille crossbar with a centered Kia insignia, projector-beam headlights and fog lamps, and chrome door handles deck the front and side fascia of the Rondo. Step inside and you will be in awe, not only of the space but also the numerous storage cubbies, from the huge center console to the under-floor storage box in the cargo area, and of course endless cup holders. Metallic accents cover the interior door handles, shifter knob and the center stack. The four-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel, tilt steering wheel, six-way adjustable driver's seat, folding and reclining 60/40 split second-row seat, air conditioner, power windows and door locks are among the notable standard
SAFETY FIRST: Kia deserves to be lauded for making all these security features standard: dual front and side airbags, side curtain for both rows, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, electronic brake distribution, tire pressure monitoring system, front active headrests and front-seat belt pretensioners with force limiters.
OUT THE DOOR: $19,195, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P225/50R17; wheelbase, 106.3 inches; length, 179 inches; weight, 3,333 pounds; fuel capacity, 15.8 gallons; highway, 29 mpg; city, 21 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: Priced under $20,000, the Rondo offers great value for the money. Also in its favor are Kia's 10-year/100,000-mile limited power and five-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranties. This all-new SUV sure has the "power to surprise," which incidentally is the Korean car maker's tag line.
Nitish S. Rele is an advertising staff writer for The Tampa Tribune.