The Rio's six-speed automatic transmission is a good piece of technology. It succeeds in making the most of the car's power delivery and is superior to many other offerings in the class (CVTs). Still, this is a relatively slow subcompact.
With a chassis tuned for a relatively sporting feel, the Rio is fun to drive but still easy to live with daily. Its performance numbers in our handling tests are better than most subcompacts.
Ride comfort is adequate but not as soft as less sporting competitors like the Nissan Versa. Still, we don't find the Rio's ride comfort to be a burden.
Most subcompacts aren't quiet cars inside and the Rio is no exception. Keep your expecations realistic for this segment and you'll find no faults with the (hardly obtrusive) noise inside this Kia.
Both seating and primary controls follow accepted industry standards. Most controls -- including the three-knob, four-button HVAC controls -- are intuitive, easy to use and well placed. Large buttons are a nice touch as are automatic headlamps.
This is a Rio strong point. Its large cabin and simple architecture improve outward visibility. Even the large C pillar can be worked around.
Seat Access & Space
Front headroom and legroom are very good for a car in this class, but overall any subcompact isn't going to offer the room of large cars. There's ample rear head and legroom as well -- even with the driver's seat adjusted for an average driver.
Cargo & Storage
Again, it's hard for small cars to compare to large cars when it comes to cargo space. There are cupholders in every door pocket and a very reasonably sized cargo area, which includes tie downs behind the second row.
Materials and assembly are average for a subcompact. The Rio lacks the more premium materials found in its cousin the Hyundai Accent, but it's still OK for the class.