Compact car; Built in South Korea
  • 4-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $3,500 – $13,000*

2006 Kia Rio

2006 Kia Rio

2006 Kia Rio

2006 Kia Rio

  • Control layout/materials
  • Fuel economy
  • Acceleration
  • Cargo room (sedan)
  • Noise
  • Rear-seat room/comfort

Best suited for undemanding, low-speed running, the smallest Kias include plenty of features for their low-budget price. In addition, Rio a surprisingly well-built car that, with Kia’s strong new-car warranty, delivers a lot for the money-most notably, standard side-impact and curtain airbags. The base sedan offered no options, so if you want air conditioning or an automatic transmission, look for an LX or SX model. Rios do not hold their value well, depreciating a bit faster than Hyundai’s Accent, so prices on the used-car market tend to be relatively low.


Kia redesigned and enlarged its entry-level compact line for 2006, giving it more room, more power, and more safety features. Rio continued in front-wheel-drive sedan and hatchback form; the hatchback was called Rio5. Both body styles gained 3.5 inches in wheelbase, and 1.6 inches of rear legroom.

Track width (distance between wheels) also grew. In fact, Kia claimed the 2006 Rio was bigger in every dimension, except for overall length. Trunk space in the sedan increased by 30 percent. Unlike the prior generation, Kia sought to differentiate its Rio from the closely-related Hyundai Accent.

Billed as “sporty and youthful,” Rio styling was said to be European-influenced. Kia’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine gained 6 horsepower, now rated at 110. A five-speed manual transmission was standard, with four-speed automatic optional. Kia claimed a 20-percent increase in fuel economy and range.

Sedans came in base and LX trim, with 14-inch wheels; the Rio5 hatchback only in SX guise with 15-inch alloys. Newly standard were side airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags. Antilock four-wheel disc brakes were optional on all but the base sedan. LX sedans added air conditioning, a CD player, split folding rear seat, and a tilt steering wheel. The Rio5 SX included foglamps, a rear spoiler and wiper/washer, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. An optional Power Package included power windows, locks, and mirrors.

Kia is owned by Hyundai, and both South Korean automakers offered warranty coverage of 5-year/60,000-mile basic, plus 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain, and 5-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance. In addition to Hyundai’s Accent, the Rio competed against such subcompacts as the Chevrolet Aveo/Cobalt, Honda Fit/Civic, and Toyota Corolla/Yaris.

Yearly Updates

2007 Rio
Minor interior trim changes marked the 2007 model year for Kia’s smallest car. A new SX sedan joined the lineup, with 15-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, a rear spoiler, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. SX models could now get 16-inch alloy wheels.
2008 Rio
The 2008 Kia Rio and Rio5 were largely unchanged, but the Rio5 became available in LX trim.
2009 Rio
A digital audio player input jack was newly standard, as was satellite radio.
2010 Rio
The 2010 Kia Rio received slightly freshened styling.
2011 Rio
The 2011 Kia Rio sees few changes, though a 4-speed automatic becomes standard on LX and SX versions of the sedan and Rio5, meaning only the Base sedan is available with a manual transmission.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Kia’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine produced 110 horsepower, driving either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/98
Engine HP 110
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 107
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

Kia’s manual transmission shifts easily and the Rio has light clutch action. The smooth automatic kicks down quickly to summon whatever power is available. Around-town acceleration is adequate with either transmission, but highway passing power is lacking. A test manual-shift sedan accelerated to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds, but an automatic-transmission Hyundai Accent took 11.1 seconds to make that run.

Fuel economy is a plus, as expected. Test manual-gearbox LX sedans have averaged 27.2 to 28.4 mpg, including gas-eating performance runs. A Rio5 with automatic averaged 23 mpg in a test that was heavy on urban commuting.

Solidly built, Rios provide a generally comfortable ride, with a firm suspension that’s sufficiently compliant to smother smaller bumps. Still, some jouncing occurs on wavy pavement, along with thumping over moderate bumps and occasional jolts on larger disturbances.

Urban-friendly size is abetted by quick, accurate steering. The Rio5 feels almost sporty, with adequate grip in quick turns, helped by standard 15-inch or optional 16-inch tires. All models suffer moderate body lean in corners, and sedans tend to noseplow. Gusty crosswinds affect straightline stability, too. Available ABS furnished good stopping control and brake-pedal feel. One test LX without ABS suffered early rear-wheel lockup in rapid braking on wet roads.

Rio’s engine is noisy at higher rpm, under acceleration, and cruises more quietly with automatic than manual shift. Wind noise is moderate, but plenty of tire thrum occurs over coarse pavement, with some thumping over bumps.

Gauges are clear. Audio and climate controls are angled toward the driver, high-mounted and easy to reach, with large knobs and buttons. Most cabin surfaces are hard plastic, but they don’t look cheap. In fact, Rios equal some costlier cars for materials and assembly quality.

Front-seat occupants get good head and legroom on firm, comfortable seats, though larger drivers might prefer wider cushions. The driver’s seat is adjustable for height and rake, and has a fold-down right-side armrest. A tilt steering wheel has been standard on all but base sedan models. Hatchbacks suffer poor visibility to rear corners. Backseat space is quite good for a small car, with adequate head and toe room. Legroom is tight only if the front seat is far back, and the seat is nicely countered. Seatback angle is adjustable in the Rio5 hatchback-a rarity in this class. Entry/exit is fairly easy.

Cargo space is meager in sedans, ample in hatchbacks. All but the base sedan have a split folding rear seatback. In sedans, the seatback doesn’t lie flat and sits above floor level, and the opening is cramped. The release is awkwardly placed toward the center of seats. Rio’s pass-through isn’t full-size, and trunk lid hinges dip into the load area. The hatchback’s seat bottom can flip forward, allowing the seatback to lie nearly flat, and its releases are handy. Interior storage includes five small bins, but no console box, and only a small glovebox.


Model Tested: Kia Rio5 SX with ABS, auto.

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 6
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 5
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 6


Value - 6

Total: 50


4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
98.4 158.1 66.7 57.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
49.6 11.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.6 37.8 42.8 34.3
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
98.4 166.9 66.7 57.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.9 11.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.6 37.8 42.8 34.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2006 Kia Rio 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Rear Passenger Injury - 3


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Coolant leak
Description: There was a campaign to replace radiator caps that did not open at the correct pressure and caused cooling system leaks and there should be a decal on the strut tower if this was performed. (2006)
Audio system
Description: The CD player may not play, accept CDs or eject CDs requiring resetting by removing the power/memory fuse for five minutes or more. (2006)
Description: The left rear seatback may get stuck down because the stop button in the belt goes beyond the belt guide and the retractor will not release. (2006-07)
Description: The 2.0L or 2.4L engine may be hard to start, or may not start at all, due to throttle stuck shut from deposits. (2006-09)
Description: Engine may run rough when first started when cold requiring reprogramming the powertrain control module. (2006-07)
Software problems
Description: Poor shift quality on vehicles with the 2.4L engine requires updating software for engine control module. (2009-10)
Fueling problems
Description: Stumble on acceleration and other drivability problems due to fuel tanks rust causing clogged fuel injectors. (2006-09)

Recall History

2006-2008 Rio
Description: Front passenger seat occupant sensor mat can crack and cause the Occupant Classification System (OCS) to malfunction. Malfunctioning or disabled OCS could lead to airbags deploying with a child in the front seat.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.