Subcompact car; Built in
  • 4-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,900 – $15,300*


2014 Kia Rio


2014 Kia Rio


2014 Kia Rio


2014 Kia Rio

Pros:
  • Control layout
  • Passenger and cargo room
Cons:
  • Rear seats don’t fold flat

The Kia Rio represents itself well in a class that’s filled with great choices. Where some of the competition shines in a particular area and trails in another, the Rio doesn’t really stand out so much as it does a good job at most things. Good power for the class, a comfortable ride, fine practicality, and handsome looks inside and out are some of the qualities of this well-rounded package. Our biggest disappointment is the so-so fuel economy we’ve seen in our testing. Despite the recent downward revision to its EPA scores, we still had a hard time reaching even the city estimate.

Overview

Rio was Kia’s entry-level vehicle. At one time, this was one of the least-expensive new cars you could buy, yet it still carried one of the best warranties in the industry. That’s not the case any more, as Kia was looking to take its smallest car and move it upmarket. This strategy paid dividends for the brand’s Optima midsize sedan.

Competitors included the Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, and Toyota Yaris. Note that the South Korean-built Rio borrows elements of its design from the Accent produced by Kia’s corporate parent, Hyundai.

A new platform, new engine, new styling, and new features all went along with a new, higher price tag for this subcompact car. The car did reprise 4-door sedan and 4-door hatchback body styles, with the latter being called the Rio 5.

The sole engine for all Rio models was a 138-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder. Standard on the LX was a 6-speed manual transmission. Optional on that model and standard otherwise was a 6-speed automatic. Rio was front-wheel drive.

The Kia Rio included a standard complement of expected and federally mandated safety features.

Yearly Updates

2012 Rio
Changes were few for 2013. EX and SX hatchbacks included an underfloor organizer in the cargo area. The Eco Package was optional on EX models for 2013. It included an idle stop/start system that under most circumstances automatically turned off the engine when the car was stationary in order to save fuel. The system then restarted the engine when the driver released the brake pedal. A late addition to the model-year 2013 lineup was a limited-production SX hatchback with a 6-speed manual transmission. The more common automatic version of this model gained steering-wheel paddle shifters.
2013 Rio
Both Rio body styles got subtle aerodynamic enhancements and a revised leather-wrapped steering wheel for 2014.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

The sole engine for all Rio models was a 138-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder. Standard on the LX was a 6-speed manual transmission. Optional was a 6-speed automatic. Rio was front-wheel drive.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/98
Engine HP 138
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 123
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
28-36
28/36
32
29

Road Test

With either transmission, Rio has adequate acceleration. The 6-speed automatic shifts smoothly and downshifts promptly when called upon for more power. The available ECO package adds Kia’s ISG (Idle Stop and Go), a driver-selectable system that shuts off the engine under specific circumstances when the car is stationary, for example at a stop light. The engine restarts automatically when the driver releases the brake pedal. Most of our experience with the system was on the highway, but it functioned smoothly at toll booths. With the manual, shift action is occasionally notchy, but the clutch is very smooth, making the car pretty easy to drive in heavy traffic.

In Consumer Guide testing, a Rio 5 SX returned 28.6 mpg in driving that was evenly split between city and highway. We saw 25.7 mpg in an EX sedan with a bit more city work. Both test vehicles came with the automatic transmission. Our manual SX hatchback fared a bit better, averaging 31.6 mpg. No opportunity to measure a Rio with the Eco package. Rio uses regular-grade gas.

Rio’s comfortable ride is better than many subcompacts. Small bumps are absorbed well, but larger ones can pound through to the cabin, especially in the SX on account of its standard sport suspension.

Responsive, well-weighted steering and easy to modulate brakes help instill confidence behind the wheel. Body lean is minimal, and the car tracks well on the highway. Overall, Rio is nimble and very pleasant to drive for a subcompact.

Rio is one of the quieter subcompacts. Its engine is a bit vocal while accelerating, but it settles down nicely at cruise. Little wind noise is heard, even at highway speed. A bit of road rumble is audible, but it’s not enough to be bothersome.

Rio’s simple, straight forward gauges and controls are well marked and easy to use. The radio is mounted high on the dash and the climate controls a bit low, but each uses an easy to understand combination of buttons and knobs. One test example suffered from a malfunctioning Bluetooth cell-phone link. The car indicated the system was on and active, but it would not pair with any phones.

Rio’s interior is a well-designed blend of hard plastics and strategically placed soft-touch surfaces. Overall, the simple, tastefully detailed cabin is attractive for the class. The available leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good too.

Even larger adults should be comfortable up front. There is good headroom for six footers, and the seat’s generous fore-and-aft travel allows for ample legroom. The comfortable seats are lightly bolstered. The standard tilt-and-telescope steering wheel helps fine tune driving position.

Headroom is generous, even for six footers. Legroom is more of a challenge, but a taller male should be able to fit behind another of like size for at least a short journey with some cooperation on front-seat placement.

Generous cargo room behind the rear seat. Split-fold seat backs flip forward, but may require sliding the front buckets forward a bit for the headrests to clear. There are bottle holders on all four doors, but only the fronts also have storage pockets. There’s a nice open bin in front of the shifter, and it’s placed under two 12V sockets and the auxiliary and USB ports. A large glovebox, console bin, and small open compartment next to the radio provide additional storage.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2013 Rio EX sedan w/Convenience Pkg.

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.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 8
80%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 7
70%

Total: 54

Specifications

4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.2 159.3 67.7 57.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
53.4 11.4 5.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.0 37.6 43.8 31.1
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.2 171.9 67.7 57.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.7 11.4 5.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.0 37.6 43.8 31.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2014 Rio 4-door sedan 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

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

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

Trouble Spots

Engine misfire
Description: Crankcase Position Sensor could cause engine misfire. (2014)

Recall History

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

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.