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.
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.
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. The motor is available with start/stop technology that helps reduce urban fuel consumption.
Both six-speed manual (base model only) and six-speed automatic transmissions can be had; mileage checks in at 29/37 city/highway mpg with the stick, 28/36 mpg with the auto and 30/36 mpg for the start/stop-equipped auto.
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 .
Inside, the Rio is more complex than the outgoing model and offers more upscale options, including navigation and Kia's Microsoft-developed UVO Bluetooth and infotainment system.
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 metal pedals, metal grain, 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 chrome-coated accents throughout.
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 (replaces the UVO system), push-button start with Smart Key, leather seat trim, heated front seats and a moonroof to give an open, airy feeling.
All of Kia's offerings include a 10-year / 100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty, a 5-year / 60,000 mile limited basic warranty, 5-year / 100,000 mile limited anti-perforation warranty and a 5-year / 60,000 mile 24-hour roadside assistance.
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.