Along with a new hatchback version of the Kia Rio subcompact, the Korean automaker is launching a completely redesigned sedan version of its fuel-economy champ. Boasting a higher-class interior, more passenger space from an additional three inches of space between the front and rear wheels, and new technology exclusive to the class, the Rio looks to shake up the status quo.
Body style: Four-door sedan
Engine: 1.6-liter inline-4
Transmissions: six-speed manual, six-speed automatic
Models: Rio LX, Rio EX, Rio SX
As a completely redesigned car, Kia went back to the drawing board to make the Rio stand out in a vastly increasing pool of subcompact competitors. The brand got rid of its old four-speed automatic and five-speed manual for a pair of six-speed transmissions. Class-exclusive idle stop and go (ISG) technology also lets the car maximize efficiency, seamlessly shutting off its engine and restarting it in traffic. It's bigger on the inside without much added to the outside, allowing for a more comfortable, more efficient car than it replaces.
Taking a page from the larger Optima sedan, Kia has gone toward the adventurous side with the new Rio sedan. With standard 15-inch steel wheels and 17-inch wheels available on the uplevel SX, the Rio looks much more aggressive than the model it replaces. On SX models, fog lights and LED driving lights come standard in the new projection-beam headlight housings.
The new Rio is a vast improvement over the 2011 model in its space, interior packaging, and its quality of materials. Using a two-tone interior color scheme and a smooth, stylish interior design, the interior looks upscale, especially when optioned with the in-dash navigation system. Aluminum-look brightwork adorns the center console, door pulls, and part of the optionally leather-wrapped steering wheel, aiding the Rio's high-class looks.
Performance & Handling
The Rio's ride is taut but not overly firm, going over roads smoothly and capably. It won't set the road on fire with an estimated 9.2-second 0-60 mph time, but it is class-competitive. What it does offer is superior fuel economy and a comfortable ride to get passengers from A to B in a better-than-expected manner.
Dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags are standard; disc/drum brakes are standard on the base Rio, but four-wheel discs are standard everywhere else. The Rio comes with standard four-channel anti-lock brakes, stability control, and vehicle stability management to mitigate between the ABS and stability control to find an optimal level of traction at each wheel.
EPA Fuel Economy
Rio: 30 mpg city/40 mpg highway (automatic and manual)
- Spacious interior for its size
- Fuel economy
- High value-per-dollar ratio
- Un-economy car looks
You Won't Like
- Slightly less interior room than predecessor
Hard plastics may feel cheap to the touch
High beltline compromises rear visibility
Not the best handling in the segment
All-new makes for a class-leading vehicle
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