The Kia Rio for a while carried the image of being a budget car nothing more. Those who needed a cheap means of getting around considered the Rio because of it's ultra-low base price. Now times have changed however, and the Kia Rio is far from the cheap car that it used to be. It's still affordable and offers much new technology for such a low asking price. Has Kia finally stepped up their game? Or is it a case of all style no substance?
Performance: The Kia Rio only comes with one engine and that's a 1.6-liter four-cylinder producing 138hp. There's plenty of pace for city and highway driving, and fuel economy is really good as well. The engine is paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six speed automatic gearbox. Picking between the two depends on your tastes.
Ride & Handling: The Kia Rio ride often feels firm and never settled over bumps and potholes. If you get the top of the range trim with the low profile tires, the ride comfort will suffer a bit more. Handling is okay, it's not as sporty as a Fiesta but it does offer a secure feeling. The only downside is the steering can often feel numb at times.
Refinement: Wind noise is well suppressed but very little else. Engine noise is often joined by tire noise slapping on the road. The gearshift is a bit notchy too. On long journeys this can make things a bit tiresome unless you turn the radio up a bit to drain out the noise.
Behind the wheel: This car is very easy to get comfortable in because the driving position is adjustable and should suit everyone. The seats are flat and firm. The controls are simple and well placed. The big problem however is the small rear window and thick pillars, which restrict rear visibility.
Space & Practicality: The Rio offers an impressive amount of space for four adults. There's plenty of headroom and legroom to go round. The boot offers plenty of space for its size and the rear seats fold 60/40 for added versatility.
Equipment: The base trim level misses out on power windows and power door locks. But you do get air-con and a CD-player standard. You'll have to step up to the EX trim to get power door locks, windows and Bluetooth connectivity. SX trim adds 17-inch alloy wheels, power folding exterior mirrors, auto headlights with LED day time running lamps and a sports tuned suspension.
Buying & Owning: The Kia Rio is one of the most affordable cars on the market. However, the value factor slowly disappears when you climb up the trim levels. The base trim loses out on features that should be standard, while the top of the range seems rather overpriced for what it is. Running costs should be low thanks to good fuel economy, while resale unknown.
Quality & Reliability: The Kia Rio overall interior quality feels good. The quality of the materials used feel sturdy and long lasting. A huge step forward for the brand. Reliability has been average for the Kia brand.
Safety & Security: All Rios come equipped with front and side curtain airbags. Anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control are standard as well. It should also be as thief-proof as other contemporary Kias.
The Kia Rio has really stepped up its game since it was first released in the U.S. No longer is it the car you'd choose because it’s the cheapest to buy. The new generation of the Rio is stylish, practical and even offers good fuel economy. However, the only disappointing factors are the kit level for the base trim and the disappointing driving experience compared to the Ford Fiesta. If you can ignore these few little faults, you'll find that the Rio is a great car with good value for the money.
Devon's Pick: SX trim may be the most expensive of the Rio range. It's the only version of the Rio that offers the most attractive features such as those LED daytime running lamps and flashy alloy wheels. It's worth spending the extra but it loses the value for money factors.
Likes: Good fuel economy, stylish exterior looks, practical and offers good value for the money.
Dislikes: Not as comfortable or fun to drive as a Ford Fiesta, the base trim is very disappointing.