The Kia Carens is a compact multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) with a station wagon body style. It belongs in a class of cars called M-segment and sits between the mini and broad MPV size categories.
Compact MPVs like the Carens are a family-friendly car that can seat five-seven passengers comfortably with ample room for luggage in the trunk. They remain quite a big hit in the European scene but are also manufactured and sold in several North American, Latin American, and Asian markets.
1st Generation: RS series (1999-2006)
In May 1999, South Korea’s Kia Motors Corporation (KMC) unveiled the first-generation Kia Carens—a spacious five-door station wagon—which was up for grabs in markets across the globe. It gained global recognition over the years under several names, notably as Kia Rondo, a name derived from a musical term.
In Australia, Kia’s first-generation Carens was discontinued in 2001, replacing it later with the newly refurbished 2002 model.
In Malaysia, the RS model was marketed initially as the Kia Carens. Starting January 18, 2005, however, the Kia Carens came to be known as Naza Citra. Much later, in June of 2009, the Naza Citra received a much-needed upgrade.
By 2005, Kia had already introduced the Multi-S concept for the company’s second-generation Carens at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany. Dubbed as the Kia Rondo in most countries, the Multi-S stands for Sporty, Spacious, and Smart.
2nd Generation: UN series (2016-2013)
Kia unveiled its second-generation Carens—the UN series—in 2006 for the 2007 model. Known as Rondo in North America and Rondo 7 in Australia, the Kia Rondo premiered at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in 2006.
Sales in North America and Canada started coming in December 2006, while in the US it began in early 2007, and in Australia, in April 2008.
In the US alone, the Kia Rondo’s sales exceeded its targets with over 20,000 thousand units sold for each model year—2007 and 2008. In spite of this, the 2009 model year brought down sales fast and showed no improvement after that.
Hence, Kia had to discontinue the Rondo in the US in August of 2010. The company, however, continued marketing the 2011 face-lifted model of Carens/Rondo in Canada, which donned Kia’s brand-new grille.
Elsewhere in North America, the Kia Rondo was offered in two preferences: as a five- or seven-seater car outfitted with either a standard 2.4L 4-cylinder engine (130 kW) or a more powerful 2.7L V6 engine (143) which comes in two trim levels.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the Rondo 7 was only offered as a seven-seater with a 2.0 4-cylinder petrol engine, and a selection of either a manual or automatic transmission, subject to trim level.
The second-generation Kia Rondo comes with the following standard specs and equipment:
· power windows
· child-safety door locks
· air conditioning
· 16-inch alloy wheels
· anti-lock braking system (ABS)
· tyre pressure monitoring system
· electronic stability control
· tilt steering column
· front/side/full-length side curtain airbags
· front and rear 12V outlets
· lower anchors and tethers for children (LATCH)
· AM/FM/CD/MP3 player
· iPod auxiliary jack
· front and rear cup holders
The vehicle also includes other optional features, such as keyless entry, moon roof, heated front seats, cruise control, leather interior, and Infinity 10-speaker stereo.
3rd Generation: RP series (2013-present)
The third-generation Carens was launched by Kia Motors at the September 2012 Paris Motor Show and began selling in March 2013 in South Korean markets.
The Kia Carens RP series is available in two engine choices, namely:
· 2.0L NU 4-cylinder petrol engine that delivers 122 kW power and 213 N⋅m peak torque
· 1.7L U2 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine generating 100 kW and 320 N⋅m
Both engines can be mounted to a 6-speed automatic or manual transmission. In the United Kingdom, a 1.6L GDI petrol engine is also available and comes with either a five-seat or seven-seat configuration for more legroom and traveling comfort.
In North America, the third-generation Carens/Rondo was available only in Canada because of declining sales in the US. The Kia Rondo market in Canada came to an end after the 2017 model year.
By September of 2016, the third-generation Kia Carens received a much-improved make-over, which included newly-designed wheels, lights, fascia, and an expanded Kia tiger-nose grille. The previously offered 1.7L diesel machine was upgraded and now generated up to 104 kW and 340 N⋅m. The 6-speed automatic transmission was soon replaced with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT).
Through Kia’s partnership with DreamWorks Animation, the Carens was cross-promoted with the 3-D computer-animated film, The Croods, in March 2013.