2017 Kia Rio Review
Pros & Cons
- Ample standard and optional features
- Long warranty coverage for peace of mind
- engine provides relatively quick acceleration
- Roomy seating for a subcompact
- Lacks the ride and handling sophistication of rivals
- Base LX's non-telescoping steering wheel
Edmunds' Expert Review
With the 2017 Kia Rio, you're getting a straightforward subcompact sedan and four-door hatchback. It's a car that's going to get you from point A to point B without issue. But there are some elements that help improve its appeal. The Rio offers more than just the basics by virtue of its stylish design, roomy backseat and long warranty coverage. Factor in the Rio's affordable pricing, and you've got yourself a pretty appealing package.
Every Rio comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower. It's one of the more powerful engines in this class, and it gives the car respectably quick acceleration for a subcompact. Fuel economy is a bit less impressive at a maximum of 31 mpg in mixed driving, according to the EPA, but it's good enough to keep your fuel bills low. Our primary complaint is that the Rio lacks the suspension refinement found in some rivals, and its ride and handling characteristics suffer as a result.
If you'd like to check out the Rio's competitors, we'd suggest the sportier Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris iA. We're also fond of the well-rounded Chevrolet Sonic and the versatile Honda Fit hatchback. Even measured against these eminently likable models, however, the 2017 Kia Rio is a solid choice if you're looking to simplify your driving experience.
The 2017 Kia Rio comes standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability control, a hill start assist system, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Additionally, a rearview camera is available on the EX model and standard on the SX.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Rio SX came to a halt from 60 mph in 124 feet, which is an average distance for this class of car.
Both the Rio sedan and hatchback received a four-star rating (out of a possible five) for overall crash protection in government crash tests, with four stars for front-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Kia Rio sedan its top rating of Good in the moderate-overlap front-impact crash test, roof strength test and head restraint/seat (whiplash protection) tests. In side-impact crash testing, the Rio received the IIHS' second-highest rating of Acceptable. In the small-overlap front-impact test, the Rio scored the second-worst rating of Marginal.
2017 Kia Rio models
The subcompact 2017 Kia Rio is available as either a sedan or a four-door hatchback. The sedan is offered in LX and EX trim levels, while the hatchback can be had in LX, EX and SX trims.
Standard features on the entry-level LX include 15-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers, heated power mirrors, a rear spoiler (hatchback only), air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-only steering wheel, a trip computer, a cargo area cover (hatchback only), and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio input jack.
An available Power option package adds keyless entry and power windows and door locks. Opting for the Power package requires sedan buyers to order the optional automatic transmission, which brings with it Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity. (Hatchbacks come standard with both the automatic transmission and Bluetooth.)
The Kia Rio EX starts with the Power package items and adds 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a chrome grille surround, upgraded cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, map lights, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, a soft-touch dash, padded armrests on the front doors, a sliding center console armrest and storage area, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker audio system.
Choosing the Rio EX's optional Eco package results in the loss of that model's standard 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, soft-touch dash, map lights and vanity mirrors. Instead, it adds a fuel-saving automatic engine stop-start system, automatic headlights, a rearview camera and Kia's Uvo 7-inch touchscreen interface. The EX's Designer package includes two-tone black and gray cloth and leather seating with gray accent stitching on the seats, steering wheel, shift knob and armrest plus automatic headlights, a rearview camera and an upgraded audio system with a 4.3-inch touchscreen.
The top-of-the-line SX (hatchback only) includes the Rio EX's standard equipment and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a sunroof, automatic headlights, LED taillights, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a navigation system, a rearview camera, an upgraded gauge cluster, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and the Uvo infotainment system.
The 2017 Kia Rio is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that sends 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. The LX sedan gets a six-speed manual transmission as standard; a six-speed automatic is an option. All other Rio models come with the automatic as standard. In Edmunds testing, a Rio SX went from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds, which is a bit quicker than average time for a subcompact.
EPA fuel economy estimates vary a bit depending on which Rio you get, but expect to get 31 mpg combined (27 city/36 highway) from an EX with the Eco package. This is average fuel economy for the segment, but some competitors are even thriftier.
Out on the road, the 2017 Kia Rio SX has a less than smooth ride quality mainly due to the larger wheels and firmer sport-tuned suspension. If a more comfort-oriented ride is what you're after, we'd recommend comparing the SX to the EX model to see which you prefer. If, on the other hand, responsive handling is a priority, we think you'll find the SX to be a better bet.
Step on the gas and the 138-hp four-cylinder, which is one of the more powerful engines in this segment, delivers quick-enough acceleration. It's not going to knock your socks off, but for typical driving duty, it's powerful enough. The engine can get noisy at high rpm, such as when you're quickly accelerating to get up to highway speeds.
Inside, the 2017 Kia Rio offers a roomy cabin. Up front, most drivers should be able to find a comfortable position thanks to the height-adjustable seat and the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel that's standard on EX and SX models. Rear seat occupants will enjoy accommodations that are pretty spacious compared to some subcompacts.
From a design standpoint, the interior is far from flashy. The EX and SX models do feature good-quality materials, however, including upgraded cloth upholstery and soft-touch trim. As you'd expect from a car whose calling card is simplicity, gauges and controls are straightforward and easy to see and use.
When it comes to cargo room, the sedan offers a good-sized trunk with 13.7 cubic feet of space that can be expanded by way of the 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks. The hatchback offers a decent 15 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and a useful 49.8 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down.