The Kia Rio is a subcompact sedan that belies its low pricetag with attractive styling and a well-designed interior. Although its platform dates back to 2005, the Rio boasts a thoroughly modern powertrain in addition to plenty of standard features.
Kia has made several minor revisions to the Rio for the latest model year. New underbody covers enhance aerodynamics, a water temperature gauge is now standard, and models with leather-wrapped steering wheels benefit from an enhanced tiller design.
The Rio sedan and its 5-door hatchback sibling feature a clean and elegant look highlighted by Kia's "Tiger Nose" corporate grille. Inside, the airy cabin features switchgear and materials that wouldn't be out of place in a car priced on the other side of $20,000.
An available UVO infotainment system provides Bluetooth-based smartphone integration, streaming audio and voice command functionality for everything from placing calls to changing radio stations. It also includes integrated Pandora radio, vehicle diagnostics info and maintenance reminders, and lets users send Point of Interest info from Google Maps searches on their smartphone to the navigation system (when equipped).
All Rios are powered by a 1.6-liter gasoline direct-injection four-cylinder that puts out a class-leading 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque.
Both six-speed manual (base model only) and six-speed automatic transmissions can be had; mileage checks in at 27 city/37 highway mpg for either gearbox. An auto-only Eco model equipped with the start/stop system is rated one mpg higher in the city.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Kia Rio can be had in three trim levels: LX, EX and SX.
The LX trim includes body-color door handles and side mirrors and 15-inch steel wheels with 185/65R15 tires.
Moving up to the EX trim brings additional standard conveniences, including power door locks with keyless entry.
For consumers looking for even higher levels of sporty refinement, the SX trim offers standard 17-inch wheels with 205/45R17 tires, fog lamps, LED daytime running and rear combinations lamps, dual chrome tip exhaust and outside heated mirrors with turn signal indicators.
Standard on the LX trim is air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, an AM/FM/CD sound system with USB and AUX input jacks and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. Moving to the EX trim includes standard power windows with automatic up/down on the driver's window, telescoping steering column, 60/40 split folding rear seats and leatherette door trim.
The SX trim, intended to offer a sporty feel, adds special suspension tuning, ventilated front disk brakes, metal pedals, metal grain interior trim, a Supervision meter cluster, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, maplight with sunglasses holder, illuminated vanity mirrors, trip computer, cruise control, UVO powered by Microsoft in-car hands-free communication and entertainment system with rear camera display, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Rio also has available upgrade packages, such as the Convenience Package and Eco Package for the EX, while the SX level offers an available Premium Package. The Convenience Package includes 15-inch alloy wheels, automatic light control, fog lamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, maplight with sunglasses holder, illuminated vanity mirrors, outside heated mirrors with turn signal indicators, trip computer, cruise control and the UVO powered by Microsoft in-car hands-free communication and entertainment system with rear camera display.
The Eco Package appeals to the environmentally friendly consumer with the stop-start system and an Active Eco System for optimal fuel-efficient driving. Upgrading the SX trim with the luxurious Premium Package includes a navigation system, push-button start with Smart Key, leather seat trim, heated front seats and a moonroof to give an open, airy feeling.
The Rio sedan takes on a number of new entrants in the subcompact segment, including the Ford Fiesta and the redesigned Chevrolet Aveo-turned-Sonic, the suprisingly spacious Honda Fit and the go-kart-like Mazda Mazda2.