2018 Kia Rio Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Sporty handling makes it entertaining to drive
  • Solid build quality for such a price-conscious car
  • Long warranty coverage for peace of mind
  • Hatchback model has class-leading cargo space
  • Standard equipment is a bit bare-bones
  • Base LX and S have a non-telescoping steering wheel
  • Sedan has subpar cargo space
List Price Range
$11,000 - $14,075

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Which Rio does Edmunds recommend?

While it might seem a bit counterintuitive to recommend the top trim of an entry-level car like the 2018 Kia Rio, we think the Rio EX is simply the most desirable of the bunch. The base LX and midlevel S are certainly fine, but the EX gets Kia's Uvo infotainment system, a 7-inch center screen, and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These features are worth the extra money. Additionally, the EX gets upgraded safety equipment in the form of a forward collision warning system with automatic braking.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

7.7 / 10

Available as a hatchback or sedan and in three, easy-to-understand trim levels, the redesigned 2018 Kia Rio is a subcompact car that is simple yet sophisticated. On the outside, it has an all-new look that is grown-up and stylish. On the inside, the Rio is well-assembled and is relatively spacious considering its size.

Under the hood, the Rio gets a reworked version of Kia's 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. It has slightly less power compared to last year (130 horsepower versus last year's 138), but Kia says it decided to trade peak power for more usable power, meaning that the Rio feels stronger at the lower engine speeds drivers encounter most often.

The inside also has been upgraded, and while hard plastics still abound, it feels very solidly built. The redesigned dash and gauge cluster manage to look upscale as well, so even though the Rio is a budget-priced car, it doesn't feel cheap. We think the interior presents itself better than those of cars costing thousands more.

Overall, we're impressed with this little Kia. If you're in the market for a subcompact sedan or hatchback, the 2018 Kia Rio is absolutely worth checking out.

2018 Kia Rio models

The subcompact 2018 Kia Rio is available as either a sedan or a four-door hatchback. Both the hatchback and sedan are sold in three different trim levels: base LX, midlevel S and top-level EX.

For the base LX, standard features include a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine (130 horsepower, 119 pound-feet of torque), a six-speed manual transmission (a six-speed automatic is an available option), 15-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-only steering wheel, a trip computer, a rearview camera, and a four-speaker sound system with a 5-inch display, satellite radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio input jack.

The midlevel Rio S adds to the standard equipment with keyless entry, heated power mirrors, power windows, cruise control, map lights, a sliding center console armrest and storage area, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, an extra USB port (charging only), a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker audio system.

The top-of-the-line EX includes the Rio S' standard equipment and adds 15-inch alloy wheels, a chrome grille surround, foglights, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a forward collision warning system with automatic braking, upgraded cloth upholstery, dual illuminated vanity mirrors and an upgraded 7-inch center display with Kia's Uvo infotainment system (which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). The EX's Launch Edition package adds red interior trim and partial leather accents.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2018 Kia Rio EX  (1.6L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).

Driving

7.5
The Rio delivers more sophisticated handling than its competitors and some welcome steering feedback. The economy-oriented tires and strained-sounding engine keep it from being truly fun to drive. Even though performance is average, the car feels better on the road than competitors.

Acceleration

6.5
Our as-tested 0-60 mph time of 9.1 seconds is average for this segment, and that's also the best description for this powertrain. The throttle response is linear, and the Rio feels zippy enough around town but runs out of grunt quickly. When pushed, the engine is noisy and sounds strained.

Braking

7.0
The brakes feel solid and responsive and are easy to modulate. Under hard braking the car tracks straight, but the brakes are let down by the economy-oriented tires. In our testing the Rio went from 60 to 0 mph in 126 feet, which isn't bad for the class, but it feels as if the Rio could do better.

Steering

8.5
The steering effort is relatively light and builds naturally. There's even some welcome feedback from the front wheels, which sets the Rio apart from most competitors. But it is a bit darty, so you wind up making more corrections during turns and even while driving straight.

Handling

8.0
Body roll is a bit loose on initial turn-in, but the Rio settles and feels controlled through most of its range. Handling is predictable, but the economy tires protest loudly and understeer shows up early. Still, the car's predictability and steering feel make you feel confident.

Drivability

7.0
The shifts are smooth, but the six-speed automatic has its work cut out for it. Unlike some CVT-fettled competitors, it has to shift frequently. It will hold gears but upshifts when you let off the throttle. It does match revs for smoother downshifts but doesn't execute them particularly quickly.

Comfort

8.0
The manually adjustable seats are firm but supportive. Climate controls are straightforward, and the system is more than up to the task of regulating the temp in the cabin. The Rio is quieter than many rivals, and the ride is more refined, if a bit firmer than subcompact buyers are accustomed to.

Seat comfort

7.0
The seats are firm but well-formed and supportive, with some bolstering. The lack of lumbar adjustment makes the seat a little less comfortable on longer drives. The headrest is aggressively forward, but it has enough vertical adjustability that most drivers will be able to work around it.

Ride comfort

7.5
The Rio's best trick is smoothing out smaller road imperfections that make most cars in this class feel busy. The suspension feels sophisticated, but this is a firmer ride than most, and while it takes the edges off bigger bumps, it's buttoned-down and you definitely feel more of the road.

Noise & vibration

8.0
Outside of engine noise, the Rio is quite quiet around town. In most road conditions, road and tire noise sounds more distant than in competitors. But wind noise is noticeable on the freeway, and some conditions bring the tire noise up. Even cruising, you can still hear the engine.

Climate control

8.0
The Rio uses a simple three-dial system that's very easy to read and understand. It's capable of blowing very cold and very warm, so it should keep up with any climate. The rear defrosters are a bit slow, but otherwise this is a very functional, basic climate system.

Interior

8.0
The solidly built interior looks more mature and upscale than those of rivals. The range of driving position adjustability gives the feel of a larger sedan. Still, the backseat is cramped, and entry can be tricky. The excellent touchscreen interface and straightforward controls are a pleasure.

Ease of use

9.0
The buttons are clearly labeled and controls are easy to find. We especially like the dedicated hard buttons for infotainment features and menus that let you bypass navigating the touchscreen system. That said, this is a well-thought-out touchscreen interface that outclasses competitors.

Getting in/getting out

6.0
The Rio's relatively low roof means you have to duck a bit even to get in the front. Limited rear-seat head- and kneeroom combined with a small rear door opening make the back seat require some contortion for adults. It's nearly impossible to enter in tight spaces where the door can't be opened wide.

Driving position

8.0
The Rio has a lower, more sophisticated midsize-car seating position compared to the very upright position in most subcompacts. There's plenty of seat adjustment both forward and back and for height, and the steering wheel telescopes quite far, which taller drivers will appreciate.

Roominess

6.5
The front seat offers good head- and kneeroom, and it feels pretty open. The rear seat is tight in almost every dimension, with less kneeroom and toe room behind taller drivers than something like the Honda Fit. The headroom in our sedan tester was also limited.

Visibility

7.0
The roof pillars are thick all around, but they are positioned in front so they don't create problematic blind spots. The good side mirrors help with the side view. Rear visibility is quite good, but the beefy rear roof pillars create a big blind spot when you're looking over your shoulder.

Quality

8.5
Plastics abound, but they're handled well: Many are textured and they all feel solidly built. This isn't a hollow or tinny interior, and the overall design makes it look mature, especially for this class.

Utility

7.5
A decently sized trunk with a wide, flat floor and quite a few interior storage options for small items make the Kia a practical little car. It can't really touch the class-leading Honda Fit, but its strengths lie elsewhere.

Small-item storage

8.0
Again, the Honda Fit is king in this category, but the Rio incorporates several cubbies in the center console, a small armrest box, a good-size glovebox, and door pockets that can hold water bottles in both the front and rear. You shouldn't have any trouble finding places to stash your stuff.

Cargo space

7.5
The 13.7-cubic-foot sedan trunk is average, but Kia worked hard to create a wide, flat load floor so it's very usable. The seats fold down for longer items. The hatchback's 32.8 cubic feet (with the seats folded) can't touch space in the Honda Fit, but in practice it's quite accommodating.

Child safety seat accommodation

6.0
The LATCH points are clearly marked, but they are stuck between the cushions. They're close to the surface, so you don't have to dig around to find them, but they're still less easy to get at than in cars with ports or flaps.

Technology

7.0
What technology the Kia has is well-thought-out, with an excellent touchscreen infotainment system, a surprisingly good stereo, and competent voice controls. Still, competitors offer more active safety features and driver aids across more of their range.

Audio & navigation

7.0
Kia figured drivers would rather use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto than pay for a nav subscription, so nav isn't available. Audio quality is better than most of the class, with good clarity and depth but not much bass response. You can specify which sources the Mode button will cycle through.

Smartphone integration

8.0
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay work smoothly but are only available on the top trim level. The infotainment hard buttons make switching in and out of either easy. Below that it's just Bluetooth. Our tester came with front and rear seat USB ports, and a 12-volt outlet and aux port up front.

Driver aids

6.0
Forward collision alert is unobtrusive and returned no false alarms in our time with the car. We also appreciated the animated guidelines in the rearview camera. That said, competitors offer more active safety features and driver aids.

Voice control

8.0
The range of controls is relatively limited, but they work well with minimal misunderstandings when changing radio stations or dialing phone numbers. There are guides on screen and voice prompts, and you can switch to shorter voice prompts once you get the hang of the system.

EdmundsScorecard

Overall7.7 / 10
Driving7.5
Comfort8.0
Interior8.0
Utility7.5
Technology7.0

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2018 Kia Rio.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Away RIO Go
dj,09/23/2018
S 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A)
As an Older lady, I took over a year looking @ all the compacts as loved my old dodge neon. I couldn't find anything as comfortable esp since most all of the new vehicles have so many BLind spots with their small back windows!? I do love the backup camera but still, I want to be able to SEE out! That's what prevented me from buying the hyundai accent plus the rio just felt bigger. I do wish it had the blind spot blinkies on the side mirrors as the one on the driver's side seems to have a big gap? (I'll get one of those stick on ones). I am very happy with my purchase so far esp with the 35-38 mpg! However this is a zippy car and I have to fight hard to keep her below 80 even without using the "sports" mode! Very appreciative of edmunds review too. Oh the sound system is great esp with sirius!
Dodge Guy Turned Kia Guy
Kenneth,11/24/2017
S 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6A)
I've owned Dodge all of my life.. I looked at Kia because of the Warranty and I'm so happy I did. Car is built solid, when I close the doors or trunk you can tell it's built tough. Love the fact they added more steel making the overall structure a safer ride. I'm enjoying the fuel economy and the fun feel of the sporty hatchback. I'm really happy with my 2018 Rio 5Door .
Rated in consideration of the price
Sean O’Connor,07/29/2018
LX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6M)
This vehicle was the least expensive car for which I could fit. It drives like a small Audi. The it is very comfortable for a 6” 275 pound car fanatic. I’ve owned Lexus, Acura, Honda, GMC sedans and SUVs, Toyota, Volvo, VW and Chrysler, sedans a Miata and a Chevy Silverado. Never drawn to Fords interior or driving dynamics, tried, never took. This 2018 Kia Rio is worth more than I paid. If it is as reliable as the warranty suggest, it will be the best money I’ve ever spent. It gets hybrid level gas mileage, it is fun to drive mostly due to the manual 6 speed. Handles like a much more expensive brand and very comfortable, secure handling. I can understand why Kia sells over 200,000 of these WW.
Hit the road with your Rio
Loretta,09/06/2018
EX 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6A)
A lot of extras that are included without having to add on to make your car fit just for your likings

Features & Specs

See all Used 2018 Kia Rio features & specs

Safety

Our experts like the Rio models:

Forward Collision Warning
Warns you if a front collision is imminent. Available only on the top-trim EX model.
Rearview Camera
Helps navigate into tight parking spots and avoid collisions when backing out of spots in crowded parking lots.
Automatic Emergency Braking
Helps mitigate an accident by engaging the brakes when a front collision is sensed — standard only on the EX trim level.

More about the 2018 Kia Rio

Used 2018 Kia Rio Overview

The Used 2018 Kia Rio is offered in the following submodels: Rio Hatchback, Rio Sedan. Available styles include LX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A), S 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A), S 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6A), LX 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6A), EX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6A), EX 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6A), LX 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 6M), and LX 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2018 Kia Rio?

Price comparisons for Used 2018 Kia Rio trim styles:

  • The Used 2018 Kia Rio S is priced between $11,566 and$14,075 with odometer readings between 24533 and40782 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Kia Rio LX is priced between $11,000 and$12,998 with odometer readings between 11703 and25907 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 2018 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) 2018 Kia Rio for sale near. There are currently 11 used and CPO 2018 Rios listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $11,000 and mileage as low as 11703 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 2018 Kia Rio.

Can't find a used 2018 Kia Rios you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Rio for sale - 2 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $14,339.

Find a used Kia for sale - 3 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $19,064.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Rio for sale - 5 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $21,263.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia for sale - 10 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $14,677.

Should I lease or buy a 2018 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.

Check out Kia lease specials
Check out Kia Rio lease specials