The Compact MPV is a unique classification of cars. These vehicles are common in Europe, where their combination of storage space and better fuel economy makes them preferable to full-sized vans, SUVs, and crossovers.
But in America, the compact MPV never really took off. Want some proof? Do you remember the Kia Rondo? Probably not – because it was only sold for 3 model years in North America. The same is true of the Mazda5, another Compact MPV that was slightly more popular, but still was discontinued due to low sales.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the Kia Rondo, and explain why it didn’t take off in North America, despite being a reliable, convenient compact car.
The Rise Of The Crossover Led To Lower Demand For Compact MPVs And Wagons
In the late 2000s and early 2010s, the price of gas in North America started to sink, and consumers began buying crossovers, trucks, and full-sized SUVs in record numbers. This trend is continuing today. Crossovers and other larger vehicles are so popular that companies like Ford have actually discontinued smaller cars in America.
Essentially, this means there is a much lower demand for smaller MPVs and “people-carriers”. Station wagons and large hatchbacks like the Kia Rondo are no longer ideal vehicles for American consumers – who will simply choose to purchase a larger, more expensive full-sized SUV, crossover, or van.
The Kia Rondo Was Too Much Of A “Jack Of All Trades”
Another reason that the Kia Rondo did not become popular in America was because it was too much of “jack of all trades”. It looked like a minivan – but it didn’t have sliding side doors. It had a hatchback and seating for 5-7 people, but it wasn’t exactly sporty. It was small, but not small enough to get fantastic fuel economy – with the first models providing 19 mpg city and 26 mpg on the highway.
And its small size – though an asset in countries like Europe and Canada where roads are small and congested, and you must often park on the street – did not make sense to most Americans, who benefit from large garages, enormous parking lots, and wide roads.
Good News – You Can Still Get A New Rondo In Canada (And Used Rondos In America)
There definitely is a market for a smaller MPV in North America, so it’s a shame that there are no new Rondos being made. But there is good news! You can get a used Kia Rondo for a great price – under $6,000. If you’re interested in a smaller vehicle that offers the versatility of a van with a more sleek, small form, the Kia Rondo is perfect for you.
And, in fact, the Kia Rondo continues to be offered at Applewood Kia Surrey dealerships in Canada, where consumers tend to prefer slightly smaller cars due to the higher price of gasoline. The vehicle is still being manufactured, and is still in its third generation, and has adopted a slightly larger design, which classifies it as a compact SUV.
Elsewhere in the world, the Kia Rondo is sold as the Kia Carens, and continues to enjoy success. It’s just a shame that it never took off in America – but if you live elsewhere in the world, you can still purchase a brand-new or used Rondo!
The Kia Rondo – A Vehicle Before Its Time?
The Kia Rondo was a great car. It was reliable, compact, and – compared to the SUVs and vans of its time – surprisingly fuel-efficient.
The compact MPV, like the humble station wagon, is a great alternative to fuel-hungry SUVs and crossovers – and it wouldn’t surprise us if these vehicles make a comeback when oil prices start to surge again, like they did in the mid-to-late 2000s.
Thanks for joining us, and exploring this forgotten Kia vehicle! We hope this article has been educational and informative.