IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:

The Kia Rio delivers better-than-expected comfort, quietness, driving enjoyment, and available features, all at bargain prices.

BUT…

Rear-seat legroom is stingy, and interior materials are low-buck.

WORTH NOTING:

Unlike the similar Hyundai Accent, which comes only as a sedan, the Rio is available in sedan or hatchback body styles.

WHAT IS IT?

The Rio is Kia’s subcompact car; it’s a close relative to the Hyundai Accent, but it has different styling inside and out and different features. Like the Accent, the Rio was redesigned on an all-new, slightly larger platform for 2018, gaining several newly available convenience and safety features. Rio sedans are offered in LX or S trim, while hatchbacks come solely in S trim (Kia calls the hatchback a “5-Door”). All are powered by a new 120-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT); this engine replaces an earlier-design 1.6-liter engine that came mated to a 6-speed automatic (or manual) transmission. Standard features include air conditioning, heated exterior mirrors, touchscreen audio display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality, and Bluetooth connectivity. Available features include LED headlights, satellite radio, and a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking.

WHAT’S NEW?

As mentioned above, the Kia Rio gets a new, more economical powertrain for 2020. The new engine loses ten horsepower compared to its predecessor, but its EPA ratings are 4-5 mpg better.

FUEL ECONOMY

The EPA rates the Rio at 33 mpg city/41 mpg highway—a significant improvement over the previous engine’s 28/37 rating. All Rios use regular-grade gas.

VALUE IN CLASS

The subcompact car class is mostly about basic, no-frills transportation with a strong focus on initial affordability and fuel economy. The Kia Rio certainly fulfills the affordable and economical part, but it’s got a few more frills—and it’s more entertaining to drive—than you might expect, considering its class and its price. The availability of a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking is a real plus as well.

BASE PRICE RANGE $15,750 – $16,690
BODY STYLES 4-Door Sedan, 4-Door Hatchback
AVAILABLE ENGINES 120-HP, 1.6-Liter 4-Cyl.
DRIVE WHEELS Front-Wheel Drive
BUILT IN South Korea
EPA FUEL-ECONOMY RANGE 33-41 MPG

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