Kia Rio

2016 Kia Rio

The Kia Rio is a front-wheel-drive subcompact that comes in Rio Sedan four-door and Rio 5-Door hatchback versions. The Rio offers good looks, smooth operation, and is equipped well. The current-generation Rio was redesigned for the 2012 model year and has been updated for 2016.

The 2016 Kia Rio Sedan and 2016 Rio 5-Door get revised front and rear fascia that make these little cars look wider. The new grille adopts a geometric pattern, familiar from other Kia models. Foglamps gain satin-finish bezels for 2016, and the rear reflectors have moved to the far corners. Greater use of high-density foam promises to reduce noise, vibration, and harshness on 2016 Rio models. A rearview camera and UVO telematics are now part of the Eco package.

All 2016 Kia Rio models have a 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard for the sedan, with 6-speed automatic optional. All Rio 5-Door models come with the automatic. These cars run smoothly, but the driver should not expect swift reactions when its time to pass or merge.

Fuel economy is average. Both powertrains get a 31-mpg Combined (city/highway) estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency. The Eco model scored 1 mpg higher in city driving.

Because the rakishly styled Rio is among the smallest subcompacts on the market, a snug back seat isnt a surprise. Partially offsetting that shortage of space is the high quality of the materials in the cabin, which convey a premium feeling thats uncommon in the subcompact field. Some interior details, such as the use of toggle switches for climate control, seem like relics of the past, but upper trim levels get a big touchscreen.

Safety scores are middling. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives Rio a four-star rating overall. But several cautionary notes were added, because of intrusion into the vehicle during crash-testing. Rio was rated Good, its highest praise, by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in moderate frontal-impact, rear-impact and roof strength but only Acceptable for side-impact and only Marginal in the new small-overlap test, not great scores.


2013 Kia Rio

The Kia Rio delivers excellent fuel economy, perky performance and a strong warranty for an attractive price with a degree of style. Rio also offers refinement not often found in a subcompact, and it's roomy and comfortable. Completely redesigned for the 2012 model year, Rio is available in two body styles: the four-door Rio sedan and Rio 5-door hatchback.

For 2013, changes to the Kia Rio are minimal. The 2013 Kia Rio sedan and hatchback get a revised badge on the hood, trunk lid and steering wheel. Steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters now come on the SX model; hatchback EX and SX trims get a standard cargo floor tray and net. Also, an automatic stop/start feature is included with the optional Eco package.

The Rio four-door sedan and Rio 5-door hatchback share styling influences but not all details; with different grilles, tails and side scallops they look more like siblings than twins. Compared with other subcompacts, the Kia Rio models are wider, have a longer wheelbase, shorter overall length and lower roofline; only Nissan's Versa is considerably bigger outside.

Kia Rio mechanicals go a step better than basic econo-car. Its 1.6-liter engine uses direct injection to aid power and fuel economy, resulting in the best horsepower in the segment and fuel economy highway ratings in the 40-mpg range. The optional Idle Stop and Go system found on the Eco package, typically reserved for more expensive cars, automatically turns the engine off and on at long stops, saving more fuel for urban drivers and reducing emissions.

Rio's all-disc brakes are uncommon in this bracket, as are its available 17-inch wheels. Suspension is conventional in design, delivering a ride suitable for long commutes and behavior suitable for the class.

Cabins are nicely put together. They're easy to live with and not overwrought with gimmicky styling. Everything is easy to operate and anyone can quickly master the controls. Kia's reputation for value is carried on by standard features such as air conditioning and power-heated mirrors. Mid-line Rio models have Bluetooth as standard. Upgrades include navigation, Kia's UVO infotainment system by Microsoft, rear camera, leather upholstery and heated front seats.

Both sedan and hatchback models offer useful space; we favor the hatch for its added load flexibility and maneuverability. Rio seats are comfortable. And there's good cubby storage in the center console and side door pockets. Interior room stacks up well against competitors, but while Rio is best in terms of front legroom, it suffers from cramped legroom in the rear.

On the road, the Rio is smooth and feels refined for the class. The ride is taut without being firm, the feeling one of stability and not punishment.

The 2013 Kia Rio is a considered a subcompact car and competes against the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, and Toyota Yaris.


 

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