All new for 2018, the Kia Rio lineup undergoes some housekeeping for 2019. The manual transmission found on last year's LX models bites the dust, as does the fancy SX trim with its equally fancy red-toned interior. All five-door models are only available in S trim.
The Rio is Kia's smallest and least expensive car and is available as a four-door sedan or five-door hatch.
2019 Rio LX: The base Rio comes with 15-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, cloth seats, and an infotainment system with a 5.0-inch screen, four speakers, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
2019 Rio S: Move up to S, and get a front center armrest, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a rear-seat USB charger, cruise control, remote keyless entry, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with six speakers, USB charging ports, SiriusXM, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
The Kia Rio is front-wheel drive and comes with a 1.6-liter I-4 making 130 hp and 119 lb-ft mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 28/37 mpg city/highway.
The 2019 Kia Rio is rated a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS, scoring Good (its highest rating) in all categories, except for its passenger-side small overlap crash result, where it scored Average. The Rio received a front crash prevention designation of Superior by the IIHS thanks to its ability to fully avoid collisions both in the 12-mph and 25-mph autobrake tests. Tests were performed on a Rio equipped with the Technology Package, which includes forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking.
In both four-door and five-door hatch configurations, the Kia Rio offers front/rear legroom of 42.1/33.5 inches, respectively. Cargo space in the four-door measures 13.7 cubic feet, 17.4 in the five-door hatch. In S models, the rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split configuration, expanding cargo space to 32.8 inches in the five-door hatch.
The 2019 Kia Rio LX comes standard with a four-speaker infotainment system with a 5.0-inch screen. S models gain a 7.0-inch touchscreen and six speakers, front and rear USB ports, and SiriusXM radio.
An available Technology Package includes LED headlights, forward collision avoidance systems, and Kia's UVO telematics suite, providing roadside assistance and 911 connectivity, curfew limit and geofencing alerts, and vehicle diagnostics/configuration.
Small but mighty: In our First Test of the 2018 Kia Rio, we took a shine to Kia's smallest offering. A well-damped ride created a "driving experience that belies the Rio's low price," and the "interior is a nice place to spend time." The Rio was so memorable, in fact, that it secured a slot in our 2018 Car of the Year testing, where we were "impressed with how much car you get for well less than $20,000." But that price point, as always, requires compromise. In this case, we wished for a "smidge more torque (or a turboed engine)." But that's splitting hairs given the segment. So while it might not be "car of the year, it's a great value and a well-rounded small car."