2009 Kia Rio Review

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Pros & Cons

  • Smooth ride, attractive interior, generous warranty, low price.
  • Cruise control isn't available, automatic version slower than most rivals, subpar safety scores.
List Price
$6,495

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2009 Kia Rio offers a fair amount of value, yet there are better choices for a subcompact overall.

Vehicle overview

Subcompact cars used to be strictly a low budget, no frills proposition. In the past, cars like the Kia Rio offered basic transportation and not much else, and the competition wasn't much better. However, given the recent interest in fuel economy and the fairly high price of most hybrids, subcompact cars are getting a new lease on life. The Rio is a good example. When it was completely redesigned a few years ago, it became more pleasant to look at and to drive.

As Kia's smallest car, the 2009 Rio boasts the brand's smallest price, making it one of the least expensive new cars you can buy in the United States. It also delivers respectable fuel economy, looks sharp in SX trim and is backed by Kia's stellar warranty. Two body styles, the sedan and the Rio5 four-door hatchback, are available to provide more of a choice to potential buyers. It all stacks up to make the Rio a pretty decent daily driver.

Still, you should shop around some before settling on the 2009 Kia Rio. True, if a rock-bottom price for basic transportation with a great warranty is your primary concern, the base Kia Rio is hard to beat. But if you're looking for a nicely equipped fuel sipper, we think there are better choices. The redesigned Honda Fit, in particular, is a better all-around car, thanks to its versatile interior and sporty driving characteristics.

2009 Kia Rio models

The 2009 Kia Rio is a subcompact available as a sedan or a four-door hatchback. The sedan comes in base, LX and SX trim levels, while the Rio5 hatchback comes in LX and SX trims only. The base sedan is bare-bones, coming standard with 14-inch steel wheels and a four-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player and satellite radio. The LX adds popular features such as air-conditioning, power steering, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a tilt steering wheel and an auxiliary audio jack. The SX trim level adds foglights, 15-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, metallic interior accents, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and upgraded cloth trim.

Optional for the LX and SX is a power package that adds full power accessories, keyless entry and tweeter speakers. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels are additionally available for the SX.

2009 Highlights

The 2009 Kia Rio continues with no mechanical changes. However, there are a few audio system upgrades.

Performance & mpg

Every 2009 Kia Rio is powered by a 1.6-liter inline-4 with 110 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard across the board, while a four-speed automatic is optional on all but the base sedan. Acceleration suffers a little when you choose the automatic transmission. A Rio5 SX automatic we tested took 11.5 seconds to run to 60 mph.

EPA fuel mileage estimates for the Rio stand at 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined with the manual transmission and 26/35/30 mpg for the automatic. That's right in line with other subcompacts like the Fit and the Toyota Yaris.

Safety

Front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on all Rios. The LX and SX trims also come with adjustable rear headrests. Antilock disc brakes are optional on those higher trim levels as well.

In government frontal-impact crash testing, the 2009 Kia Rio scored four stars (out of five) for driver protection and five stars for passenger protection. In its side-impact test, the Rio earned four stars for front-occupant protection and three stars for the rear. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing yielded a score of "Acceptable" (the second highest of four) in frontal-offset tests and a score of "Poor" (the lowest possible) in that agency's side-impact test.

Driving

The Rio's 1.6-liter engine gets noisy at high rpm but provides decent punch, especially with the manual transmission. Precise action and a smooth clutch make shifting the manual gearbox enjoyable. Rios with the automatic aren't as peppy, although gearchanges are smooth and relatively quick. The Rio's ride is smooth and stable, and even at 75 mph, the cabin is hushed. The suspension isn't as composed over broken pavement as we'd like, though, as large impacts tend to shudder through the cabin. Pushed through corners, the 2009 Kia Rio responds with predictable body roll and unexpectedly crisp steering.

Interior

The Rio's cabin, especially in beige, has an airy feel unexpected in this price segment. The materials quality is generally above average. Seat comfort is very good for most body types, although drivers north of 6 feet tall may get fidgety after more than an hour behind the wheel. A fold-down armrest is standard for the driver, but we'd prefer a more traditional center console box that provides this feature for both front occupants along with handy storage space. In back, headroom is a bit tight for 6-footers, but legroom is fully adequate and the tall bench provides good thigh support. The Rio5, with its rear seats lowered, can take on up to 49.6 cubic feet of cargo.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2009 Kia Rio.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Great First Car
Shmork,02/07/2009
Many reviewers complain this car isn't powerful enough, or sporty enough and the tires are too small-the list goes on; I disagree. I have never had a problem accelerating into interstate traffic or maneuvering. The interior is surprisingly spacious (huge trunk) and quite attractive with the SX enhancements. The mileage is excellent. Yes, this is no luxury vehicle and it doesn't have impressive horsepower, but if you're shopping in the subcompact market you're not likely concerned with these factors. The drive is almost sporty and the tire size hasn't been an issue. You're not dishing out extra $ for bells and whistles and you really won't miss them. I love my new KIA for drives great and small!
Worst car purchase ever!
mehigan,04/27/2013
Rio5 LX 4dr Wagon (1.6L 4cyl 4A)
Purchased new. Non-stop quality issues. Windshield delaminated at 16 months and again at 48 months. Has anyone had a windshield fail with stress cracks (in exactly same spot) twice within 48 months? Radio stopped working at 30 months. Knock sensor failed 15 months. Electronic control module failed 18 months. Air bag sensor failed. Too many failures to list. I call car "Elvis" -- shake, rattle and roll! Getting in-warranty repairs done a huge hassle, tried three different dealers. Last dealer's solution was "you should buy a new car". Kia factory rep never returns calls. Once car out of warranty Kia's attitude is too bad, we are not responsible. Follow up to previous review. It is now 2016 and car continues to be a maintenance nightmare with no support from Kia. Engine noise has become significantly loud, still very uncomfortable ride even with replaced up-graded shocks/tires. Mileage continues to decline as car ages. Lots of exterior/interior trim failures.
Very poor quality
Randy Mizer,07/05/2010
We have now had two major break downs in 8000 miles. One new transmission and one new front axle .My wife drives the car and has never drove it hard.I will never buy an other KIA , wish I hadn't bought this one.
Will Never Buy Another Kia
deheeren,02/08/2015
LX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 4A)
I bought this car new in 2009 and today the cars second transmission failed. The car has 151,541 miles on it. The car has also had a coil pack put on each cylinder at least once. When the car was still under warranty the dealer flat-out refused to fix the actual issues with the car because the scheduled maintenance on the car wasn't up to date, yet the salesman never disclosed details about the warranty at time of purchase or provided literature about the warranty. CD player quit working at about 24 months Heater core issues at 30 months. Car needed realignment every 10,000 miles. Tire shop said it was a "Kia" thing. Lots of road noise on the freeway. Windshield always foggy.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2009 Kia Rio features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 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
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Poor
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Poor
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Acceptable

More about the 2009 Kia Rio

Used 2009 Kia Rio Overview

The Used 2009 Kia Rio is offered in the following submodels: Rio Sedan, Rio Wagon. Available styles include LX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 4A), SX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 4A), LX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 5M), Rio5 SX 4dr Wagon (1.6L 4cyl 4A), Rio5 SX 4dr Wagon (1.6L 4cyl 5M), 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 5M), Rio5 LX 4dr Wagon (1.6L 4cyl 4A), SX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 5M), and Rio5 LX 4dr Wagon (1.6L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Kia Rio?

Price comparisons for Used 2009 Kia Rio trim styles:

  • The Used 2009 Kia Rio Rio5 LX is priced between $5,700 and$5,700 with odometer readings between 68066 and68066 miles.
  • The Used 2009 Kia Rio SX is priced between $6,495 and$6,495 with odometer readings between 57174 and57174 miles.

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 2009 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) 2009 Kia Rio for sale near. There are currently 2 used and CPO 2009 Rios listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,700 and mileage as low as 57174 miles. 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 2009 Kia Rio.

Can't find a used 2009 Kia Rios you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Rio for sale - 10 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $23,936.

Find a used Kia for sale - 1 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $12,571.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Rio for sale - 12 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $14,557.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia for sale - 1 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $9,561.

Should I lease or buy a 2009 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