2012 Kia Rio Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Kia Rio Sedan

We didn't find any results. You can try changing your zip code, or check another model year.

We found matches for you!

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Kia Rio Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.6 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 138 hp @ 6300 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 28/36 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2012 Kia Rio

  • Thanks to a redesign for 2012, the Kia Rio stands as a smart pick for small-car shoppers.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Stylish design inside and out; plenty of standard and optional features; long warranty coverage; feels bigger than it is.

  • Cons

    Engine can get noisy.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Kia Rio is fully redesigned.

Full 2012 Kia Rio Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Kia Rio is fully redesigned.


When you hear the word "Rio," you might think of the city or perhaps Duran Duran. But would "Kia Rio" pop into your head? Probably not. For many years, the Rio has been a pretty forgettable little car. But for 2012, this should change, as the subcompact Kia is thankfully as far removed from last year's model as parachute pants and feathered hair are from today's fashions.

Redesigned for 2012, the Kia Rio has been improved in virtually every way. As with Kia's other recently redesigned models, style is a priority. Inside and out, the Rio has a bold look, especially in this segment of small cars. The new Rio is larger than before, which translates to more passenger and cargo room.

Under the hood is a new 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with direct-injection technology. With 138 horsepower on tap and the promise of up to 37 mpg EPA highway, the Rio is one of the most powerful and efficient cars in its segment: on paper. In the real world, performance proves to be better than average while fuel economy is about average..

There's no debating the Rio's value, however. As is Kia's customary practice, the Rio combines a low starting price with a fairly generous standard features list. The Rio also reflects Kia's recent efforts at improved quality, notably in a nicely trimmed cabin that would be at home in a more expensive car. But with so many upscale features available as options (navigation, leather seating and keyless ignition/entry, for instance), the price of a loaded Rio can approach that of a base Kia Optima.

There's no doubt that Kia now has a firm grasp on what most consumers are looking for, which would be styling, quality, performance and features. As a result, the 2012 Kia Rio is finally a front runner in a market segment that has seen a lot of improved vehicles lately. Other worthy choices include the Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit and the Hyundai Accent, which is mechanically very similar to the Rio. Your decision will likely come down to styling preferences, driving position, handling/ride dynamics or maximum cargo capacity. Back-to-back test-drives are recommended.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Kia Rio is available in both sedan and hatchback body styles, each with four doors. Trim levels are base LX, nicely equipped EX and sporty SX.

The LX comes with 15-inch steel wheels, power/heated mirrors, air-conditioning, a trip computer, a tilt steering wheel, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface. An optional Power package provides power windows and door locks with keyless entry.

The EX comes with all the above and adds a chrome grille frame, upgraded audio speakers, Bluetooth, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a center console with sliding armrest, upgraded upholstery and metallic cabin accents. An optional EX Convenience package adds 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, power-folding outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, a soft-touch dash top, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and Kia's "Uvo" voice-activated interface for electronics features.

The SX adds to all the above 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, dual exhaust tips, LED front accent/rear taillights and an upgraded gauge cluster display. An optional SX Premium package adds a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, leather seating, heated front seats and a navigation system.

Powertrains and Performance

Every Rio is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 138 hp and 123 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the LX, with a six-speed automatic optional. Both the EX and SX come only with the six-speed automatic.

In Edmunds testing, a Rio SX did the 0-60 sprint in 9.7 seconds, a quick time for the subcompact segment. Fuel economy estimates stand at 28 mpg city/36 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined for the automatic, with 29/37/32 for the manual.


The 2012 Kia Rio comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and hill start assist. Unlike most rivals that have a front disc/rear drum brake setup, the Rio has disc brakes all around. This undoubtedly contributed to its strong braking performance, as the Rio SX came to a stop from 60 mph in just 119 feet -- a short distance for an economy car.

In government crash tests, the Rio received four out of five stars for overall protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Rio's cabin boasts very good build and materials quality. Although there is a lot of hard plastic trim, it is nicely grained and doesn't scream economy car. Indeed, in the upper trims, features such as a soft-touch dash top, sliding center armrest and tasteful metallic accents give the impression that the Rio is a cut above what you'd expect in this class.

The climate and audio controls are easy to use, as is the optional navigation system. The Uvo voice-activated telematics system is another nice bonus, although we've found its voice recognition abilities aren't great and it isn't quite as intuitive to use as Ford's Sync system. Its accompanying electronic controls are much easier to use, however, even when operating more complicated functions like the iPod interface or optional navigation system.

The Rio also scores in the areas of space and comfort. Even tall drivers should be comfortable behind the available tilt-and-telescoping wheel, while the backseat offers a competitive amount of space. Count this as another subcompact that doesn't feel like a penalty box for its passengers.

The Rio's sleek styling does result in outward visibility that isn't quite as good as some competitors' -- especially for the sedan. However, the available rearview camera is a rare feature in this class and helps greatly while parallel parking. When it comes time to carry extra items, the sedan has a 13.7-cubic-foot trunk, a respectable figure. With its rear seats lowered, the hatchback can hold up to 49.8 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

As we've only driven the sporty SX, these impressions pertain to that trim. With its firmer suspension tuning, the 2012 Kia Rio SX is a good choice for those who like feeling connected to their car. You may even have some fun behind the wheel. The SX's ride quality might be on the firm side for some drivers, but overall we like the way the Rio drives.

In the times of 500-plus-hp supercars, the 2012 Kia Rio's 138-hp output might sound paltry. Yet this sophisticated direct-injection four-cylinder pulls stronger than the power plants of its major competitors. Both the six-speed manual and the six-speed automatic transmissions make good use of that output, too. Under hard acceleration, the engine remains smooth but can get rather noisy.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Kia rio pinging bad?use premium

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Rio EX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A)

Our Kia developed a severe pinging issue running regular gas especially with the ECO mode on. The Kia Forum website states that Kia is running a series of ecm ( engine control computer ) software patches to solve this issue. Many people on that forum have had the patches done and these patches have largely only helped for a few weeks before the bad pinging came back. I finally decided that I didn't want to destroy my engine no matter how 'great' the Kia warranty supposedly is. I started using PREMIUM - NAME BRAND GAS AND TURNED THE ECO MODE OFF. After four gas tanks full of this, our Kia is running and shifting better and smoother then it ever did new. more below-

Great gas mileage. priced to

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Rio LX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A)

The New KIA RIO is a eye catcher. We averaged 37 MPG around our Town. On the Highway we got 42.3 MPG, and it wasn't a Hybrid. Front Passenger Seat is mounted to low. Drivers Seat was fine with manual height adjustment. If you need Power leave the ECO button off. If you want Great Gas Mileage leave the ECO button engaged! We have had our KIA RIO LX Sedan for 21 mths. Parts are mostly only available at the Dealer! Parts are very expensive!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Short on mpg promised

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Rio EX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A)

Had the Rio hatchback for one year. Never came close to the 40 MPG. I drive 60 miles a day and average about 34. This driving at about 65 mph. The car ride was noisy until I bought some good tires. The car is peppy and keeps up with traffic. I now have 16000 miles on the car and haven't had any problems.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

Dont trust kia

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Rio LX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A)

With the release of downgraded MPG ratings, this vehicle is not worth the price. The electronics in the car are cheap. Interior panels are showing wear after less than 7000 miles. My car is two shades of red with panels not matching.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

This is really just an

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Rio LX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A)

I've have a 2012 sedan and I was getting around 32 mpg. I've now got about 12k miles on the car in 6 months. I've had 1 minor issue. At about 11.5k mile the CE light came on. I took it to the dealer and they said it needed a software update. That did fix the CE. I've gone through a couple tanks of gas since and It does seem that my MPG is up a few miles per gallon. All and all it's a nice little car, looks good and cruises along pretty good.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

One great car

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Rio SX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A)

This is my second Kia, my first being a 2007 Kia Optima, I was so impressed with the reliabiluty I purchased my second. The Rio is everything I expected and more. Very smooth, well built and a tremondous amount of features, many of which are not even offered in the compact class, nevermind subcompact. The gas milage estimates hold true for me. Normal in town city driving get me 30-32. I recently drove to boston from southern maine and filled the tank upon leaving. I drove 90 miles and then filled up again, used 2.3 gallons of gas for a mpg of 39.1. I consistenly drove at about 65mph. I have read all of the reviews and am baffled by the low gas milage some posters report.

Talk About The 2012 Rio

Read more about the 2012 Kia Rio

Gas Mileage


  • 28
  • cty
  • 36
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Identifix Reliability Ratings

Rating unavailable for this vehicle

      (No data available)
See All Ratings
Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411