Used 2002 Kia Rio Sedan

2002 Kia Rio
List price range
2002 Kia Rio


  • 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.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

This is one of America's cheapest cars. If you're low on ducats and are absolutely addicted to that new-car smell, the Rio should do well by you.

vehicle overview

Kia is determined to get a tenacious hold on the econo-car market, and with the appealingly inexpensive Rio sedan and Rio Cinco wagon, along with the company's impressive new Long Haul Warranty Program, it may well be on its way to doing just that.

The Rio's 1.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder, the only engine available and charged with motivating less than 2,500 pounds, is surprisingly peppy, providing quick acceleration from a stop as well as adequate passing power on highways. Over 75 mph, the engine serenades the driver with an incessant whine, but maintains speed quite well. The optional four-speed automatic tranny has an overdrive-off button to avoid gear searching in the hills.

The wedge-shaped exterior design of the Rio is inoffensively generic, which, as Kia notes, means "your friends won't give you a hard time when you show up in [the Rio]." The interior is solidly screwed together, although the materials used reflect the bargain-basement price of this subcompact sedan and wagon. Hard plastics and cheesy upholstery abound, but rattles and squeaks are kept to a minimum within the cabin. Outside, the Rio boasts upscale-looking clear lens headlights. Snazzy alloy wheels are available as an inexpensive independent option, and you can get a nifty spoiler for the deck lid of the sedan, too.

Antilock brakes are not standard equipment, but you can get them as an option. Air conditioning, which works beautifully without hampering engine power too much, is also on the a la carte menu. For tunes, you can choose either a cassette player or a CD player, but you can't get both. Note that the wagon comes with a bit more standard content, including power steering, a tachometer, tilt adjustment for the steering wheel, vanity mirrors and body-side moldings; you can add all of these items to the sedan via a reasonably priced upgrade package.

The inside of this thrifty car is logically and simply laid-out. Radio controls are conveniently placed above the climate switchgear, although the latter are set a little too low in the center stack for optimum ergonomic operation. Buttons and switches are all big enough and easy to find and use, and the front seats are comfy, but lack lumbar support. The rear seat feels like a park bench, but interior room is pretty impressive for a vehicle of this size, measuring more than even Toyota's relatively spacious Echo, according to Kia. One accoutrement of which Kia is especially proud is the driver seat fold-down armrest, but it's pretty much useless with the stick shift and, in fact, impedes arm movement somewhat even in the folded-up position.

The Rio behaves well on the road, with a tight suspension that keeps body roll to a minimum, but communicates irregularities in the tarmac directly to the driver. The power rack-and-pinion steering is tight and accurate for a vehicle at this price point, but a lack of overall refinement is apparent in the vibration through the gas pedal and shifter.

The Rio competes with the Hyundai Accent, Daewoo Lanos and Toyota Echo; among this group, the Rio sedan is the cheapest four-door and Rio Cinco is the only wagon. Although we would encourage those shopping in this price bracket to consider a larger, slightly used car from one of the major Japanese manufacturers, the Rio sedan and wagon are definitely worth checking out if you're low on funds and really want a new-car warranty.

2002 Highlights

One of America's least expensive cars now comes in sedan or wagon flavor. Dubbed the Rio Cinco, the five-door Kia provides 44.3 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seat down.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2002 Kia Rio.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

The Ideal Town Car
Dennis Howerton,12/08/2015
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 seats are 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 about 73,000 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.
Loooooove this car!!
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.
Favorite car in 40 years of driving
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.
Mixed feelings. Under-rated, but I won't buy a Kia again.
This was my first college car. I bought it in summer of 2010 with 96,000 miles on it. I blindly went into buying it, no research done. I ended up falling in love with this little car. I drove it to school and back SEVERAL times (10 hour drive), and went on many road trips in it. It also made it up my mile-long dirt road at home. I'm surprised it lasted. PROS: great gas mileage, runs well with normal maintenance CONS: noisy engine, doesn't accelerate well with the AC on, tin can, cheaply made, manual windows and locks, tiny back seat I drove it to 118,885 miles. It could have lasted longer, but I hit a deer and totalled it. :( Lesson learned, I won't buy a Kia again. But it was fun.
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Features & Specs

22 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
96 hp @ 5800 rpm
23 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
96 hp @ 5800 rpm
See all Used 2002 Kia Rio Sedan features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2002 Kia Rio
Used 2002 Kia Rio Sedan Overview

The Used 2002 Kia Rio Sedan is offered in the following styles: 4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl 4A), and 4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2002 Kia Rio Sedan?

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Can't find a used 2002 Kia Rio Rio Sedan you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Rio for sale - 3 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $16,688.

Find a used Kia for sale - 11 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $13,458.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Rio for sale - 5 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $18,261.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia for sale - 9 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $17,979.

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Should I lease or buy a 2002 Kia Rio?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Kia lease specials
Check out Kia Rio lease specials