LOS ANGELES – Kia Motors America stages the unveiling of its new Rondo multipurpose vehicle at the auto show here.

Although this is the first time the front-wheel-drive Rondo has been on the U.S. show circuit, Kia sold three vehicles last month, ahead of the official on-sale date in January.

“The all-new Rondo is a perfect addition to further Kia’s growth in the U.S. market and allows us to be even more competitive, especially in the ever-expanding crossover-vehicle segment,” Len Hunt, KMA executive vice president and chief operating officer, says.

The Rondo is powered by a 2.4L inline 4-cyl. engine making 162 hp and 164 lb.-ft. (222 Nm) of torque and is mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission.

There also is a larger 2.7L 60-degree V-6 mill, churning out 182 hp and 182 lb.-ft. (247 Nm) of torque that is mated to a 5-speed automatic. Both transmissions have a standard manual-shift feature.

Hunt recently told Ward’s the 2.7L gives the Rondo a leg up on its competitors, chiefly the Mazda5 MPV, which offers only a 4-cyl. engine.

The Rondo will be available in two trim levels, the base LX and upgrade EX. Standard features of the LX include body-color door handles and side moldings, black front grille crossbars and 16-in. 6-spoke alloy wheels.

The EX adds 17-in. 5-spoke alloy wheels and a variety of chrome accents (exterior door handles, side moldings, front grille crossbars), plus integrated roof rails that lack crossbars.

Other available accessories for the Rondo include fender flares, front/rear/side fascia extensions and a lowered rear spoiler. Standalone options include an upper rear spoiler and roof-rack crossbars.

Urban Gray and Fine Silver are two new exterior colors available for the Rondo.

The Rondo shares engine, transmission and chassis components with Kia’s midsize Optima sedan, the auto maker says.

It rides on independent front and rear suspensions, with MacPherson struts with coil springs up front and a multi-link layout with coil springs in the rear. Front and rear anti-roll bars are standard, as is hydraulic power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, Kia says.

Inside the LX trim, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo is standard, as are power windows, door locks and mirrors.

Stepping up to the EX trim, Rondo buyers get upgraded Double Raschel seat fabric; an audio system with MP3 capability, front tweeters and steering wheel-mounted controls; a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; and metallic interior door handles.

A variety of option packages are offered for each trim, including a Convenience Package for the LX that adds cruise control and keyless entry, and a Premium Package for the EX trim that includes a power sunroof; 10-speaker, 315-watt Infinity audio system with MP3 capability; and an in-dash, 6-disc CD changer.

The Rondo seats five and has an optional 7-seat configuration. Kia says headroom and legroom is ample for all passengers in all rows. The third row offers 35.1 ins. (89 cm) of headroom and 31.3 ins. (80 cm) of legroom.

The Toyota RAV4 with a third-row seat has 37.2 ins. (94 cm) of headroom but just 30 ins. (76 cm) of legroom.

Furthermore, Kia says the Rondo’s second-row seat moves fore and aft nearly a foot when the third row is added. The seat also splits 60/40 and the third-row is split 50/50. Both rows fold completely flat for increased cargo space.

Standard safety features on the Rondo include six airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability control and active front head restraints.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com