2003 Kia Rio

  • 2003 Kia Rio Base Sedan

    Base Sedan

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      1.6L I4
    • MSRP
  • 2003 Kia Rio Cinco Wagon

    Cinco Wagon

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      1.6L I4
    • MSRP
Get A Dealer Quote

Compare Dealer Clearance Prices and SAVE

  • Review

2003 Kia Rio Review

Cheap price and feel.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 2003 Kia Rio is a compact, economy sedan and wagon. It was originally introduced in 2001 as a sedan model only. The wagon model, Cinco, was introduced in the following year. Although this vehicle may be cheap enough for anyone’s budget, it is probably best to look towards the competition for a more competent drive. Too many problems with unrefined mechanics plague the Kia Rio, making it a poor choice for economy buyers.

The Range

Body Styles: sedan, wagon
Engines: 1.6-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Kia Rio, Kia Rio Cinco

What's New

The 2003 Kia Rio receives plenty of new upgrades. The engine receives mote power, upgrading to a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 105 horsepower. There have been various mechanical tweaks as well to the suspension, braking, and handling. The cabin is a lot quieter as well. Interior revisions include a new instrument cluster, center console, and new door panels. New standard features include child-seat anchors, auto-off headlights, rear heater ducts, and a single CD player for the Cinco model. The Upgrade package now offers dual map lights and a sunglasses case.


The 2003 Kia Rio has a nice styling to it, keeping it from looking too much like the economy vehicle it is. The front-end styling is redone on both the Base and the Cinco model. Both vehicles receive a new trunk lid, taillights, and a bumper as well. The Cinco has a body-colored rear spoiler as well. Standard features on the Base model exterior include 14-inch steel wheels, all-season tires, full wheel covers, variable intermittent windshield wipers, rear defogger. The Cinco model adds a rear window wiper as well.


The interior of the 2003 Kia Rio receives some extra equipment for the 2003 model year. First, both vehicles will seat five passengers quite comfortably. The seats are a little bit higher than what is in a standard vehicle, which gives the consumer a nice, commanding view over the road. The driver’s seat is even height adjustable if this is not to their liking. The new features for 2003 include a fade-out interior light, rear-seat heat vents, and LATCH child safety locks. Other standard equipment on the 2003 Kia Rio includes cloth upholstery, bucket front seats, front console with storage, front cup holders, front door pockets, front seatback storage, trunk light, and a mast antennae. The Cinco adds speed-proportional power steering, 12-volt front and rear power outlets, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, four speakers, and an AM/FM single CD player.

Performance & Handling

The 2003 Kia Rio comes equipped with a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces a rather peppy 105 horsepower. The engine is paired with a five-speed manual transmission as standard, and a four-speed automatic transmission as an optional feature. For an economy vehicle, the 1.6-liter engine has a bit of get-up and go. It won’t blow your socks off exactly, but it’s a lot better than what consumers would find in most of the competition. However, the performance of the engine is somewhat hindered by the awful transmission. The manual transmission is quite rubbery. The automatic transmission also lags. The extra power for this model helps, but not enough. When going up the smallest hills the engine really struggles. More often than not, drivers will find themselves pushing the pedal to the metal just to get a wheeze. But the steering and handling is quick and easy. Corners are a piece of cake, even though there is a bit of body roll. The Cinco, due to its wheelbase, is especially adept at taking corners with confidence. The seating is comfortable, and the bolstering is suitable for some fun driving.


The 2003 Kia Rio comes equipped with child seat anchors, ventilated front disc and rear drum brakes, rear door child safety lock, two front and two rear headrests, rear center lap belt, electronic brakeforce distribution, and emergency interior trunk release. The NHTSA gave the 2003 Kia Rio four out of five stars for the driver and passenger in head-on collisions. However, the NHTSA gave the Kia Rio only two out of five stars for front and rear side impacts. The Rio received four out of five stars for rollover. The IIHS only tested rear impacts and head protection, which it gave the Kia Rio a grade of ?acceptable.?

EPA Fuel Economy

Kia Rio: 23/30 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Cheap
  • Great warranty
  • Fun engine
  • Nice style

You Won't Like

  • Cheap handling
  • Five-speed manual searches
  • Ho-hum fuel economy

Sum Up

Cheap price and feel.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Hyundai Accent
  • Toyota Echo

See the New 2017 Rio.

Front & Driver Side View

Similarly Priced Vehicles