2003 Kia Rio Review


Pros & Cons

  • Small price, big warranty, peppy engine, attractive styling.
  • Unrefined handling, five-speed manual's rubbery shift action, mediocre fuel economy.
List Price Estimate
$1,069 - $2,435

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The Rio and Rio Cinco are the lowest priced sedan and wagon on the market, and they feel that way. Buy one only if you must have a new-car warranty; otherwise, spend your money on a nice used car -- preferably a Japanese compact or a Hyundai Elantra.

2003 Highlights

For 2003, Kia gives the Rio a number of upgrades. Among these are a new 104-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine; various suspension tweaks to improve ride and handling; larger disc brakes; new engine mounts and exhaust tuning for a quieter cabin; and reinforcements to the steering wheel and column to minimize vibration. Inside, look for revisions to the instrument cluster, center console and door panels -- the latter will include storage bins and bottle holders -- as well as new seat fabric. New standard features include child-seat anchors, rear heater ducts, auto-off headlights, variable intermittent wipers and, on the wagon only, a CD player. In addition, Kia has added dual map lights and a sunglasses case to the sedan's Upgrade Package, and will offer the Power Package, which provides power windows and locks. Finally, both Rios get fresh front fascias and wheel covers; the sedan gets a sharper-looking tail and the wagon gets an optional body-color spoiler.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2003 Kia Rio.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Good Running Car
Jenevra Smith,02/22/2015
4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 5M)
This has been a great car. I bought it used in 2006 and it now has 130000 miles and is still running great. I'm on the second timing belt, and replaced the clutch at 120000. I try to keep up on the scheduled maintenance, and this car has never left me stranded. I will drive it until it falls apart.
Great car for budget minded people
Cinco 4dr Wagon (1.6L 4cyl 4A)
Bought new in 03 For $9888. The price was great but the car was fair. I bought it bare with no power. I thought having no power would mean no expenses, wrong I was. The door handle passengers side broke off in my wife's hand at 11k, by 35k all door handles had been replaced and at time I sold it at 144k all but drivers handle worked. Several repairs were made to this car and transmission was replaced twice, at 68k and 122k. Seats were uncomfortable and suspension was terrible and noisy
Good no frills putter
Great car if you need a get around vehicle..bought my 03' back in 07'. Had around 48k miles back then..Now sitting at around 125. Worst thing that's happened is a A/C line sprung a leak..no biggy..On my second timing belt..did the water pump, tensioner and pulley on the second one..lasted 120k no problems just didn't wanna chance it this next 60k. It dent's easily and the paint quality is mediocre,clearcoat sucks..the door locks have an attitude sometimes but that didn't start until the 10 yr/100k warranty was up..its an old car that's taken a fair beating..Engine still runs smooth like new. Doesn't leak a drop. I have faith this car will last another 100k if I keep it up as I have.
Fine Piece of Machinery
Tom ,11/24/2009
I took over ownership of the car at 17000 miles from my Dad. Currently it has over 92000 miles on it and runs like new.Fuel economy is great.I live in Chicago currently and consistently return over 30mpg in heavy traffic and lots of urban driving.Open road and under less stressful conditions at my previous residence I was consistently returning 36-41 depending on the situation.Kia has the stigma of being cheap but I assure this car is not cheap.It performs very well and I have spent nothing on maintenance except for the usual things like oil changes.The only thing special I do with it is that I use a product called engine restore after each oil change.Kia has done a great job.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2003 Kia Rio 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
    Driver2 / 5
    Passenger2 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested

More about the 2003 Kia Rio

Used 2003 Kia Rio Overview

The Used 2003 Kia Rio is offered in the following submodels: Rio Sedan, Rio Wagon. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 4A), Cinco 4dr Wagon (1.6L 4cyl 4A), 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 5M), and Cinco 4dr Wagon (1.6L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2003 Kia Rio?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2003 Kia Rios are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2003 Kia Rio for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2003 Kia Rio.

Can't find a used 2003 Kia Rios you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Rio for sale - 8 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $8,884.

Find a used Kia for sale - 9 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $21,052.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Rio for sale - 1 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $8,547.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia for sale - 5 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $13,445.

Should I lease or buy a 2003 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.

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Check out Kia Rio lease specials