We got the 2008 Rio 5 LX with 5-speed manual. We are very pleased with our choice so far. The car is attractive, fun to drive, and it is good enough power-, handling-, and feature-wise for us. Shortly after break-in, we took the car to TX (1800+ miles each way). Never dawdling, with two adults and two kids, fully loaded with toys and gear, we got 33 mpg. Not bad! It would do better, though, if Kia put a 6-speed in this model. 3500+ revs in 5th for typical Southern and Western U.S. interstate driving is too much. If I often drove on Southern or Western interstates, I would be less pleased with the car. But in the hilly, trafficky Northeast, where I live, I highly recommend it!
The overall combination of price, space, performance, safety, and economy are hard to beat! We'll see about reliability, mine's only two months old.
Give this a 6-speed, for heaven's sake! I understand that it takes low gearing to get good performance from a 1.6cc engine. But give us a 6th gear to make up the difference. It's so absurd that the auto gets better highway mileage than the manual that it counts as a tranny design flaw in my book.