I bought my Rio from its second owner. The car had been wrecked by the first owner at around 12,000 miles and was subsequently rebuilt. The second owner took good care of the Rio. The interior was like new when I bought it at 52,000 miles and the car had been repainted '57 Corvette red. The original wheels were warped and the tires were horribly out of round, causing the car to vibrate at around 45mph, so I bought a specialty set of wheels and new tires that set me back about $1000. Despite most Rios' homely look, mine actually looks pretty sporty. There are several things I like about the Rio. It's a simple car. I especially like the fact that the windows and door locks are manually operated. The front seats, while not cushy, are comfortable and there is adequate room for two full size adults in the front seats. The back seats are strictly for kids. Ours are grown, so the rear seat is not a problem. Whoever designed the interior of the Rio did a good job. The controls and switches are well situated ergonomically. There's even a right armrest that folds down for the driver that makes driving on longer trips more comfortable. Steering is light and responsive. It's like driving a go cart. Visibility is very good. The 1500cc engine and automatic transmission are adequate for around town driving but are a little underpowered for trips in mountainous terrain. You'll get up the slopes, but you won't pass many people. Fuel economy with the automatic transmission is good but not spectacular. I've averaged around 32mpg in highway driving and 22mpg around town. I use only straight unleaded gas (no alcohol) in my car (Yes, it's still available if you look for it.). The only maintenance the Rio has needed since I bought it was the replacement of a rear shock absorber and, of course, periodic oil/air/filter changes. Since we use the Rio as our around town car, we don't put a lot of miles on it. The absence of cruise control is the main reason we don't use it on long trips. Currently, we have about 75,000 miles on our car. It stills looks showroom new inside and out when it has been cleaned up. We love our 2002 Rio.
Sure, I would like something prettier, flashier. And navigating traffic would be easier and more fun with a little more acceleration power. But for me, getting there is more important than how cool I look on the way. This car has NEVER broken down. Never left me stranded. Worry free, problem free, low maint. Oil service every 5k miles. Replace timing belt every 60k miles. It's survived multiple curbs and medians with just a quick alignment and/or new rim. Clutch cable strand snapped at about 58k miles. Felt a pop in the stick and the sudden subtle clutch pedal and shift resistance change when the remaining strands stretched (Only needed a $35-40 part but idiots at Kia replaced entire clutch- everything EXCEPT the frayed cable!) Btw, AWESOME WARRANTY! 5yr/60k bumper to bumper. 10yr/100k powertrain. Priced around $14k- my actual cost was closer to $30k (5yr 22%) but I still count it among my top 5 smartest buys (or luckiest).
PS. It falls a distant 2nd place to my 69 toyota celica fastback. Paid $3k used w/120k mi. It's 2nd 100k Just as- if not more- reliable and low maint than the Kia's 1st 100k for only 1/10th the actual cost of the Kia. Traded it for daycare just over 200k miles. It was sold one more time just under 300k miles before I lost track of it.
Bought the car when it had 10 K miles, one year old, one previous driver. Since then have put 140K miles on it, with fewer problems than any other car I have ever driven. Replaced timing belt at 60 K and 120K. Has no AC (bought it in PA). 5 sp manual transmission. Fun to drive, plenty of acceleration in 1st and 2nd. Manual everything (windows, etc. ) means that nothing ever breaks, and no little things need repair. Incredible highway mileage, even at 65-70 mph (40-43 mpg). Had to replace gasket for trunk lid. Not a car for 4 large adults - better for 2 adults, 2 kids in back seat. Great value for the money I paid. Am expecting to put another 100 K miles on it.
best features: fuel economy, fun to drive (manual transmission), great for on-street city parking (fits into any space)
Everytime I get asked about the car i have said this. Bought her new with zero dealer add ons. Starting at 40K and today I'd say "got 207K trouble free miles" Check engine light has been working for 11 yrs. Gotta ignore it, it rearly goes off. I am lazy but do the oil changes religiously & read the review warning about timing belts. Got that at 149,000. At 200,000 got front wheel bearings & someother stuff there for $700. Hatch latch broke, using a bunge cord. If you dont like yours I will buy it :) update: sold car at 227K to a mechanic who replaced the original but just blown alternator and somehow the hatch latch ( bunge cord looked tacky) who resold it but I bought a 2014 Kia Rio and were at 44K now with no troubles