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.
The 2013 Kia Rio is offered as a five-door hatchback and a four-door sedan. All Rio models come with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine.
Rio LX ($13,600) and Rio 5-door LX ($13,800) are equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox or optional 6-speed automatic ($1,100). LX models come with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, wind-up windows and manual door locks, heated power mirrors, tilt steering, variable intermittent wipers, six-way manual driver seat, split folding rear seat, AM/FM/CD/MP3/AUX/USB stereo with steering wheel controls and 15-inch steel wheels. Rio 5-door hatchbacks include rear wipe/wash.
Rio EX ($16,500) and Rio 5-door EX ($16,700) come with the 6-speed automatic. Rio EX models upgrade with power windows and locks, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth, sliding center console armrest, front tweeters, metallic cabin trim with faux leather door panels, power-folding mirrors, cruise control, and chrome trim. Optional is a Convenience package ($1,150) adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, additional interior lighting, upgraded audio system with UVO-by-Microsoft rear camera, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, automatic headlamps, fog lamps and 15-inch alloy wheels. The Eco Package ($400) includes automatic stop/start, which turns the engine off when stopped to save fuel.
Rio SX ($17,700) and Rio 5-door SX ($17,900) are offered with the automatic transmission only and come with everything found on the EX plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, dual exhaust outlets, sports suspension calibration, 205/45R17 tires on alloy wheels, larger front brakes, projector headlamps, LED tail and front running lamps, fog lamps, painted center dash, alloy pedal covers, and UVO entertainment with rear camera. A premium package ($2,300) adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, pushbutton start/smart key, LED map lights, UVO navigation and moonroof.
Safety features, all standard, include front airbags, front side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, electronic stability control and hill-start assist.