Budget-conscious consumers shopping in the crowded subcompact market segment would do well to add the 2017 Kia Rio to their must-drive list. With a low price point, attractive styling, roomy interior and decent performance, the Rio offers solid value per dollar. And like many of its class rivals, Kia's entry-level model has expanded in both size and available features, proving that you don't necessarily have to sacrifice comfort in the name of economy.
Having undergone a significant exterior and interior refresh last year — which gave it restyled front and rear ends, new options and a standard six-speed automatic transmission in the hatchback version — the Rio is largely unchanged for 2017. The SX trim level has been dropped for the sedan, and Digital Yellow is now off the list of color choices.
Under the hood, the only powerplant remains a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. In the LX sedan it comes mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission, with a six-speed automatic as an option. All other models include the automatic as standard equipment.
Fuel economy for the Rio equipped with the manual gearbox is EPA rated at 31 mpg combined (27 city/36 highway). Choosing the automatic transmission drops the rating just a bit to 30 mpg (still 27 city/36 highway).
On the road, the SX trim level displays responsive handling courtesy of a sport-oriented suspension, while the EX excels at a more comfortable ride, so buyers might want to arrange some test-drives before making a decision. Acceleration is a strong suit, thanks to one of the peppiest engines in the class, although high revs tend to amp up the noise level.
The Rio's interior, while not exactly plush in standard trim, is nicely designed, logically laid out and constructed of good-quality materials. There's plenty of room for both front- and rear-seat occupants, and cargo space, already fairly generous, can be expanded by folding the 60/40-split rear seatbacks. Optional packages and accessories allow buyers to add an impressive array of comfort and convenience features, including such luxuries as heated leather seats, navigation and a premium infotainment system.
The Rio is available as either a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback, with the sedan offered in LX and EX trim levels and the hatchback in LX, EX and SX trims. The base LX models come with all the necessary equipment to keep you comfortable on the road, although drivers will need to make do with roll-up windows and rather basic amenities. The EX and SX trims provide considerably more features and are definitely worth a look for those seeking a bit more comfort and technology. Whatever your preference, let Edmunds help you find the 2017 Kia Rio that best meets your needs.