When Kia announced that they would bring a fourth generation Rio to the United States, we were somewhat surprised.Competing subcompact segments are actually not too hot here, and small cars have tight profit margins.It makes more sense to concentrate on smaller crossovers that are more popular and can sell more money.Ford seems to take this tactic with the upcoming introduction of EcoSport, and the introduction of the newly-delayed Fiesta in America.Even Kia itself has experienced success with sub-compact crossover with Soul.
Kia seems determined to stay afloat with this segment.Kia’s representative told us that, even though the U.S.The subcompact market may not be booming, it still accounts for about 500,000 cars per year.Plus, if any manufacturer leaves this segment, it is an opportunity to take on some sales conquests.It also says that regardless of its market size, Kia still sees some of the people buying cars that will always want a subcompact budget, and that could be a good introduction to the brand.So with that, is Kia Rio a good introduction to Korean car companies?
In general, yes, and we were introduced in Baltimore and around Baltimore, where we could try the top-end Kia Rio EX for everything from rock paths to bumpy country lanes.And at first glance, Rio is a handsome little machine.While the previous generations were round and cheerful, the new model looked more aggressive, and had a way more similar to a larger vehicle.Thanks again, horizontal grille that is more horizontal, slender, rear lights sweep, lower belt line, low grille and low jutting lips.The hatchback is the most exciting version of the car, but this sedan is far from ugly, which is a minor feat for the subcompact.
Compared to the Rio European version, and even previous generation models, there is a visual difference that revealed the fourth generation Rio U.S.-spec has succumbed to cost-cutting measures.The first tipoff is the wheel.The alloy on the Rio EX, the only model with alloy wheels, is very small 15 inches.Although admittedly adorable, and perhaps a boon to driving quality, they do look disappointing when compared with 17-inch models that exist in European models, or even those in old Rio.The headlights and taillights are plain and simple as well.The headlights are halogen reflector lamps, taillights and turns using incandescent lamps.The European version has provided projector lamps and LED accents that give it a truly modern look.The base lights on our version look out of date.
Inside, Rio reaches a greater parity with its twin overseas.Overall, the interior is identical, and there is no question that this is an affordable car.Everything is plastic, mostly different.However, the texture is varied and quite attractive.Actually, the textured plastic on the dash and the door is quite convincing until you touch them.The controls are very easy to use as well.Climate control consists of three basic buttons with a button to melt and A / C. Touch screen infotainment is also quite simple, and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.All the buttons and switches are heavy and solid too.Interestingly, navigation was not an option anymore.Instead, users must use their mobile map app to find their way.In addition, you definitely want to avoid the basic LX model due to the scarcity of features.It runs without a power window, cruise control, telescoping steering wheel, folding rear folding seat, adjustable headrest, Bluetooth, or keyless entry.None of this is available as an option.Actually, the only option available in Rio is the red leather accent package at the top level EX.The lack of modern comfort also makes it even more disappointing that the LX is the only model with a manual transmission.
EX model that we use is a soft cloth coating with embossed hexagonal design to tidy it.The front seat was a bit flat, but the thick and soft pillows were made out of lack of shape.It’s easy to find a comfortable driving position too, thanks to the customizable six-way driver’s seat, and the EX steering wheel and tilt telescoping.High drivers can actually sit very low in Rio if you want.Of course, most people might prefer to lift a chair.Regardless, you will find plenty of head and legroom front.The rear seats are the same, though the legs and knees are quite tight.Fortunately there is plenty of foot space under the front seat.As for the cargo space, the hatchback has taken an additional 2.4 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat with a total of 17.4.With the back seat folded, there is room for 32.8 cubic feet of goods.The cargo capacity of the sedan remains the same as the previous model at 13.7 cubic feet.But, although bigger than the old Rio, the hatch still has less space than the Chevy Sonic, the Honda Fit, the Nissan Versa Note, the Mitsubishi Mirage and the Toyota Yaris hatchback.This sedan has more cargo space than the Mitsubishi Mirage G4, Ford Fiesta sedan and Toyota Yaris iA.
One of the areas where Rio obviously does not suffer cost cutting or is generally a cheap car is in the driving experience.The first thing that impressed me was the quality of the ride, thanks to the starting point on the cobblestone streets in front of the hotel.Rio does not make the mound disappear like Jaguar does, and in fact it has a pretty solid ride, but the silencer does what they’re supposed to do: muffle the bump.You can feel it clearly, but you are not stuck.The car remains impressive too.The body is not floating or wallowing, nor is it shimmy and shake.It feels really solid and safe.
The tradeoff has a ride on the corporate side is that Rio is a capable handler.We would not call it sporty, but the little car exhibited a bit of a slim body, and once again, the bump did not irritate him, which made him easily pegged with confidence.Accurate steering also provides a boost of confidence.Add to that a good weight and lack of nervousness, and you have one of the better helmets in this segment.It would be nice if the car was a little more excited when turn-in and steering a little faster, but for the average driver should be more than enough.
The brakes are also amazing.Our EX models showcase four-wheel disc brakes, and there seems to be a lot of stopping power.The brake pedal is a highlight.It feels fast and easy to suppress the exact amount of brake pressure.Remember that we can only speak for EX.The LX and S trim levels have a rear drum brake, a downgrade from the previous generation.Still, others in this segment continue to use the rear drum, like the Chevrolet Sonic, so it seems adequate, but it’s disappointing to see the new model take a step back.
As for the engine and transmission, Rio is fine.The four small cylinders actually make 8 less horsepower and 4 pound-feet of torque less than its predecessor.According to Kia, the tradeoff is more power and low torque in the rev band.This is proven to see the graph of strength and torque, though it does not feel much better or worse from behind the wheel.In fact, the power was almost inadequate.It has enough power to shift about the city, and that’s just enough to avoid dangerous feelings while riding onramp or trying bait, but it never feels fast.The engine is also quite quiet at low rpm speed and cruising, but becomes buzzy and loud when turning.
The transmission was firmly seated in the OK camp as well.We only had the opportunity to drive automatically, which is a traditional six speed.It shifts smoothly, and rather cleverly chooses gears when demanding more acceleration.The shift itself is a bit slow, very clear in manual mode.Too bad Kia does not feel the need to enter one of the clumsy dual-clutch transmission in Rio, because it will bring the driving experience.Of course it will also increase the cost.
Speaking of cost, Rio started with a very low base price.Although the price is not nailed, Kia says the cheapest Rio, the LX sedan with a manual transmission, will start at about $ 13,990.The LX hatchback with the manual starts at $ 14,290, and adds auto to another car adding $ 1,000.Kia has not yet issued prices for higher trim levels, but estimates prices will be around $ 18,000 to $ 19,000.Comparing start of MSRPs, Rio cut Honda Fit, Chevrolet Sonic, Nissan Versa Note, and both types of Toyota Yaris.It’s also about the same price, giving or taking a few hundred dollars, like the Ford Fiesta and Mitsubishi Mirage.However, the feature content, or lack thereof, of the Rio LX base means that the higher S variant is a better comparison with more expensive hatchbacks, and the price may be more, too, thereby eliminating many value advantages..
It also brings one last potential hurdle to Rio, and that’s Soul, a funky compact crossover favored by people and hamsters.Not only has more space, more features, better brakes, and more styles, but costs about the same as other subcomputers, starting at just over $ 16,000 for the manual model.
By itself, Kia Rio is a solid and complete subcompact that provides a surprising driving experience.But the lack of feature content and not quite the corresponding discount means, on paper at least, does not stand out against the competition.Anyone who does that to give a second look may not be disappointed though.