Overall the 2011 Kia Rio has been a terrific car. I bought it for better gas milage and the warranty, which I'm hoping not to have to use. The steering is tight, lots of control and plenty of pick up and go. Ride is smooth, a little road noise, but not bad.
I bought this car used with 12k miles on it in Feb. 2012 when I downsized from a Jeep. It was exactly what I was hoping for. It got great gas mileage (30+ on long trips) and was dependable with minimum maintenance. I only had one issue with it, which was with the spark plugs. I didn't read the maintenance guide and didn't get these replaced. So around 40k miles, the car turned on the check engine light and started shaking in idle. Got a tune up, but 6 months later it happened again. Took it to the dealership where they said Kias need Kia parts. So that was all fixed and there were no other issues, up to 58k when the car was deemed totaled in a wreck. The most important things I need in a car are reliability and safety. This car was in 2 major wrecks. Once when I was pregnant with my daughter and someone turned in front of me so that I smashed the front of my car in. The second, someone slammed into the side of the car. The side my now 2 year old was on. We were both completely okay both times even when the car was totaled for the second accident. Now, I'm looking for another car with more space but with the same reliability and safety I found in this Kia.
To be honest, if I were as knowledgeable about cars back when I bought it as I am now, I probably would have gotten something different. But all in all, this car is amazing. The inside: My version, the LX, came with bluetooth support allowing me to connect my phone and call people without ever having to touch my phone. All you need to do is press a button on the wheel and say "Call (whoever you're calling)," it'll say back the name it heard and ask for verification. For some reason however, some people claim they can hear me just as well as if I had the phone to my ear, and others say it sounds like I'm in a wind tunnel. The seats are plain looking, but surprisingly comfortable. My girlfriend has never been able to sleep in a car during a road trip- even overnight- until we went on a road trip in the Rio. The back seats are fairly average, though there isn't much space, however, three of my friends who are grown adult men were able to squeeze into the back, and didn't have many complaints. Driving: Driving this car is surprisingly fun. It has a very tight turning angle and can make a u-turn in places other cars can't. It can take curves well at high speeds(with proper grip and good tires). Acceleration leaves something to be desired, but considering it's a 110HP engine designed to sip gas and give you 38MPG, it feels just right. Travelling noise gets gradually worse as the car gets higher in miles. When I originally bought it, it was very quiet. Now there's a lot of wind noise and the engine isn't as quiet as it used to be(still very quiet though). The engine: The number one complaint I've seen about this car in terms of the engine, is the ignition coils going out. The owners manual states that the spark plugs should be changed around 36000 miles. Most people don't change the oil in their car, let alone change the spark plugs or even do required maintenance. Unfortunately, I was one of those people around the 40,000 mile mark. My engine began to shake horribly and flashed the CEL. I had it towed to the Kia dealership(For free! Because Kia's roadside assistance for the first 60,000 miles), and they told me the spark plugs went out and it took the ignition coils out with it. They told me it was bad gas, and told me to only use Shell gas. Do not believe this. This was because the factory spark plugs don't last past 36,000(which is average for spark plugs, not a bad thing). They replaced the ignition coils for free because they were under warranty, but charged me $150 to replace the spark plugs. This is the ONLY thing I have had go wrong with the engine that wasn't somebody else's fault. Otherwise the Rio's inline-4 is reliable, and very easy to work on. Replacing the spark plugs cost me only $20 and about 20 minutes of time. It has 3 accessory belts, which is annoying, but they aren't hard to change and are relatively inexpensive. Overall: This car would make a wonderful starter car, and while it may not be the flashiest or the fastest car in the world, you can pick up a 2011 Rio for relatively cheap which makes it a perfect car for a first time driver, or a second car used to take on trips thanks to it's amazing fuel efficiency.
Bought the Rio for my daughter and she has nothing but nice things to say. The sx handles great when I drive it. Tight and very responsive. Avg 30mpg with city/hwy mix. Definitely a great first car or someone looking for a good little compact.