2013 Kia Rio SX Sedan (1.6L 4-cyl. 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 3/13/2013
High feature content availability can't hide the fact that the Rio's chassis is not class-leading. It exhibits a busy, discombolulated ride and tepid dynamics, though acceleration is good. Very spacious for its class, with good forward visibility.
PerformanceGood acceleration, though the handling and steering could be better. Enthusiasts will look elsewhere for their entry level transportation.
By the numbers the Rio is above average in its ability to accelerate. It does have abrupt initial throttle tip-in, probably to make it feel sprightlier than it is.
Pedal feel is on the softer side but has a natural bite and progression.
The steering is quick and somewhat precise, but too numb and too light. Feels artificial at low speeds.
While the Rio is competent, there's not much for enthusiasts here. Low speed handling exhibits significant yaw delay.
The Rio's lackluster ride, handling and steering probably won't scare away buyers. Its power delivery is adequate.
ComfortRide and refinement isn't as strong as in other cars in its class, but it's still a step up from the previous generation of entry level compact cars. The segment is a moving target, however, and the Rio finds itself one step behind here.
Driver seat feels overstuffed and overinflated, and there is little lateral support. It is shaped to adopt a relaxed, spread-out driving position.
The Rio has a busy ride, which grows tiresome the longer you are in the car. It feels underdamped and harsh on broken or cracked pavement or seams.
Usually road noise becomes more prominent with vehicle speed, but somehow the Rio exhibits plenty of road noise at any speed. Wind noise is also prominent.
InteriorEasy to use and easy to live with. The Rio gives the impression of roominess despite its dimensions. Lots of features to boot.
Three-knob climate controls and chunky buttons are easy to use. Generally an easy-to-use cabin, though some will find the multimedia screen a bit fiddly.
Low threshold, a lightweight door and unintrusive seat make for easy getaways. Though this is a compact car, the roofline is not so low as to be in the way.
Compact in name only, the Rio manages to feel more spacious and airy than its label suggests.
Large windshield and low cowl affords a good view forward. Small triangle windows at the base of the A-pillars do little to improve the view, but they do allow more light in.
Surprisingly large trunk and spacious backseat mean the Rio will swallow more gear than you might expect.
ValueA lot of features are available, though they could push the Rio's base price to a point where you might consider other vehicles. Kia's strong warranty is as compelling as ever.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Appears to be well-screwed together. Hard, dark plastics cover many surfaces, but the lack of distracting brightwork is a relief.
The Rio is brimming with useful features like keyless entry and ignition, navigation, iPod hookup, heated seats and an astonishingly clear backup camera.
We tested an SX model, which has a lot more features than other trim levels. Its $21,340 sticker price is at the high end of the Rio range.
When equipped with the 6-speed automatic, the Rio nets 28 city and 36 highway mpg. Real world fuel economy may vary.
5 year/60,000 mile basic warranty is above average, as is the 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
The Rio offers no free scheduled maintenance but 5 years/60,000 miles of roadside assistance.
Fun To DriveIt's not fun or especially pleasing to drive. That said, it's not a penalty box. The Rio, especially in the SX trim we tested, is more than just basic transportation.
You'll have to derive your fun from aspects other than the Rio's primary dynamic interfaces.
The Rio's looks, features and space are its strong points, not the driving experience.