Kia’s new 1-2 punch in the subcompact car segment is the 2018 Rio sedan and hatchback; a value proposition that’s all-new for 2018.
My initial advice to someone who tells me they’re shopping for a used car is to check out the new market first. I’d rather be owner numero uno of a modern vehicle than the 2nd or 3rd of one that’s out of date. And let’s face it; car tech is moving so fast that even a 3-year old vehicle can feel ancient. And in drives the new Kia Rio.
This is the highest trim level of the 3 model 5-door lineup and it still costs less than 20 grand. I know what you’re thinking; I don’t want an entry-level car. But this isn’t the junk mobile of your teenage memories. The Rio EX is a solid, pleasant-driving, contemporary car I would highly recommend to anyone who doesn’t want to break the bank for a new ride.
Slightly longer with a wheelbase stretched by about ½”, this 4th generation Rio touts greater comfort, more room and a refined ride. The 130 horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine is a carryover but enhanced with improved fuel efficiency of 32mpg combined, better responsiveness and low-speed driving dynamics. A 6-speed manual is offered on the base LX trim while S and EX models come standard with a 6-speed automatic. There’s even a Sport mode and manual shifting. A completely new suspension geometry for the MacPherson struts and torsion beam refines the driving experience with more agile handling and improved ride comfort while reduced noise, vibration and harshness levels are courtesy of better body sealing. It’s a fun little drive. And at 6’1” I fit comfortably in any seat. The cabin is now the roomiest in the class and the hatchback’s 32 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume gives you crossover-like versatility for pennies on the dollar.
Back when I first started doing this 20 years ago subcompacts were junk. They were cheap and that was about it. Look how far they’ve come. This Rio 5-door EX has top notch infotainment, USB ports front and rear, fogs, autonomous emergency braking and a quality leather wrapped steering wheel. It’s got a nice ride about it, a quiet cabin and lots of space, all for under $20k.
The tech is tight with a 7” floating touchscreen, voice recognition, a surprisingly good 6-speaker stereo system with sat radio and a rear view camera. CarPlay and Android Auto are here and serve as the navigation system. Kia even gives you a USB port in the rear – I’ve had luxury models with that omission.
The driver information display is complete and other than the thin fabric covering the cargo floor the Rio’s touchpoints don’t come off as cheap. I only wish Kia could have splurged on smart entry with push button start.
Its looks aren’t going to wow anyone and the badge isn’t sexy but the Rio 5-door EX is worthy of your money. MSRP for this one is $19,725 with only the floormats as optional.