2002 Kia Rio Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Unbeatable price, peppy engine, decent build quality relative to price point, inoffensive styling, great warranty package.
- Unrefined ride quality, power windows and cruise control are MIA from the option list.
Most helpful consumer reviews
4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl 4A)
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 seat is 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 under 74,000 miles on our car. It stills looks showroom new inside and out when it has been cleaned up. We love our 2002 Rio. June 2017 - We still have our 2002 Kia Rio and use it as a town car and for short trips. Still love it. Thinking of giving it to my grandson who will get his learner permit to drive next month. Hate to part with it, but...hey!...he's my grandson and that's what granddads do. Small, economical, easy to drive...the Rio is an excellent car for new drivers. December 2017 - We're still driving our Rio daily. I had thought about giving it to our grandson when he turns 16 in July but he's a growing boy. At 6'01", 300 pounds, he's a mite big for the Kia so we'll keep it as our old timer's transportation. The boy is going to need a truck...a big truck. June 2018 - Yep. Still have our 2002 Rio. Still use it daily. December 2018 - I jokingly call our Rio the Red Hot Chili Pepper and, yes, we still use it as daily transport around town and on short trips. No problems. Incidentally for those who read my earlier post about our grandson, I bought a 1997 Ford F-150 from my brother for him. It was a fixer-upper that I spent a shade over $2000 to have the seat and headliner and brakes and calipers redone. It had new tires and a fresh rebuilt starter. I also gave it a tune-up, radiator flush, new water pump, air filter, oil/filter, and exterior rear view mirrors. The kid is too big for a car. He needed a truck, and now he's got one with a 4.2L V-six engine turning a five speed manual tranny. December 2019 - Our 2002 Kia Rio still looks and runs great. It doesn't have all the high tech gee whiz gadgetry of the latest overpriced cars. I like that. It gets us where we want to go. Isn't that really what a car is supposed to do? June 2020 - Our Kia Rio is still running good. No problems. Too bad Kia stopped making the 2002 model. I learned Kia put a Mazda engine driving a Ford transmission in the car. It's a good, solid drive train combination. We're keeping it. December 2020. Everything I've said about our 2002 Kia Rio is still true. It's a good no frills car. Looking at the sticker price of new cars...even good used cars...these days tells me I'll be keeping the Rio.
Cinco 4dr Wagon (1.5L 4cyl 4A)
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
4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl 5M)
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.
4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl 4A)
i just wanted to let everyone know what happened to me so it won't happen to you. i bought this car in 2007 with 20,000 miles for $4000. i know it's horrible but i only got maybe 3 or 4 oil changes. the car has 107,000 miles now. but this car just kept on going. i hit a wall on the highway goin about 50 and i just drove it away. never ever had a problem until 80,000 miles needed new wheel bearings. almost $500. not too bad. kept on going til pulling into my driveway one day it just dies! i knew it was the end because the car had been so good to me it was gonna end its life pulling into the driveway. got it towed to the mechanic and yup, the timing chain broke. broke the engine, $2500 to fix.