2019 Kia Rio – Review and Road Test

2019 Kia Rio – Review and Road Test

As a spoiled automotive journalists I
drive a lot of fancy cars. The Kia Rio is not one of them. The subcompact Rio isn’t filled with dazzling features, doesn’t inspire envy in strangers, and it’s not
a pioneer of automotive technology. But it is cheap transportation. Judged as
such how does the Rio stack up? Much better than you’d think.
To start, it drives surprisingly well. Moving at a brisk pace, vague on-center
field means frequent steering corrections at higher speeds. But at
slower speeds or when cornering the steering provides decent feedback and
just the right amount of resistance… sound effects included. For a subcompact, ride quality is good. The Rio’s handling abilities are well within the scope of
acceptability for all but the most obnoxiously scrutinizing drivers. See she
totally pushes at the limit. The Rio’s 1.6-liter engine produces more
noise than acceleration but around town it moves just fine and I’m not filled
with fear when merging on the freeway, which is good because I need my fear for
things like killer bees and the fourth season the Fuller House. Given its modest power you might expect stellar fuel economy from the Rio. It is efficient but not
amazingly so, landing mid-pack among sub-compacts. For perspective, the mid-sized
Toyota Camry L trim is actually more efficient than the Rio according to the
EPA. Strange, huh? Like most value-priced cars
the Kia Rio can be loud on the freeway, especially around the windshield region but the noise is never overwhelming. Beyond that, the Rio’s small size makes
parking easy, the brakes deliver surprisingly good bite and feedback, the
automatic transmission shifts competently responding to throttle
inputs without delay, and the driver enjoys clear sight lines in all
directions. Focus your attention inward and the hard plastic-clad cabin sports a
simple, hip, pleasing design. Put another way, though inexpensive, the Rio doesn’t
visually torment you with its cheapness. Up front, comparative spaciousness and a generally comfortable driving position make the Rio a more than agreeable
commuter. I’m commuting. Wow! As you probably guessed the rear seats are less
welcoming. My head and knees barely clear but they do clear. Thankfully there’s
enough space under the front seat that my feet do not feel cramped and the seat
back is comfortably soft. As an average American male, I dub the Rio’s rear
quarters 100% inhabitable. Okay, the middle spot is less inhabitable
and cramming three aboard is just a bad idea but once more, for the price, this
ain’t half bad. Same deal with the trunk. For a subcompact, 13.7 cubic feet is good
but what’s more impressive is how it’s finished. Oftentimes car makers will
cheap-out in this area but the plastics and the materials all feel pretty good.
Primo trunk n’. For more serious cargo hauling choose the Rio hatchback, which
offers superior cargo volume and .6 inches more rear seat headroom for a
four hundred dollar premium versus the sedan. For less than fifteen thousand dollars, including destination charges, a base Rio LX includes air conditioning, six airbags,
a USB port, a long 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and a manual
transmission. Budget an extra $1,100 if you’d like an automatic transmission on
your LX or, better yet, move up from the base trim and the automatic transmission
comes standard. Speaking of, choose the mid-level S trim
or higher if you’d like 60/40 split rear seats on the sedan. Go hatchback and
folding seats are standard across the board. The roughly $17,000 S trim also
ditches old-school cranks or properly civilized power windows and adds cruise
control, Bluetooth, a backup camera, a second USB port, and a center console
with a sliding armrest. At the peak of Rio mountain sits the EX trim with its
15 inch alloy wheels, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, rear disc
brakes, automatic emergency braking, and excellent seven-inch touchscreen that
replaces the base car’s 5-inch audio display. Once again, for a car this cheap
the Rio’s UVO 3 infotainment system works great. The available Apple CarPlay and
Android Auto spring to life immediately when you connect your phone, the
touchscreen is super responsive, and the menus are essential to navigate. Spec a Rio EX sedan with leather-accented seats and the MSRP rings in a little less than $20,000. That’s not a
crazy sum but even at maximum swankiness the Rio still doesn’t include power
seats or an exterior trunk release. More critically, for just a few hundred
dollars more you could buy a much roomier, more efficient, more
sophisticated Honda Civic LX with a continuously variable transmission,
adaptive cruise control, and Lane Keeping Assist. Stick with the proper competitive
set and though pricier than the Rio in base form the Honda Fit is notably
roomier and has better resale values, the Chevy Sonic has more standard airbags, 10 to be exact, and the Toyota Yaris has the notable claim of being a Toyota. If purchase price overshadows all the Ford Fiesta’s base MSRP lands south of
$15,000, the Nissan Versa Sedan provides elemental travel for less than $13,000,
and the Mitsubishi Mirage is also a car. Not everybody wants to drive something
that’s small and cheap but for those who appreciate practicality and value a car
like the Kia Rio is awesome, especially since it consistently exceeds your
expectations. Times have changed. These days, if you want to make the
practical choice it doesn’t have to hurt.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Some people just want a true 'compact' car to drive around in the city. The Honda Civic is almost as big as the Accord from a decade ago.

  2. This car was just a finalist in Motor Trend's Car of the Year. It must be a lot better than KBB leads on. No, it's no luxury car, but I bet it's a great car for the segment. If it was offered in top trim with a 6 speed manual I'd get one as a commuter car. I love Kia. Never had problems with any of the ones we've owned.

  3. "Modest power"? They don't even offer this engine in Europe because it would be too powerful and expensive. And you know what? 1.2 and 1.4 engines are enough to keep up with the more aggressive driving style and higher speed limits on European roads.

  4. There is no way I'm interested in buying this as the Stinger is my car of choice. But that said, for that money, it's thousands times better than the similarly priced Mirage.

  5. Think about who will buy this car. Who has a need for a compact, inexpensive sedan with moderate amenities. You need to learn how to curb your standards when you review cars of varying categories.

  6. Proof that less can be more. Love this car for the price. A little turbo option engine would make this even more attractive

  7. The Mirage is called the Attrage, the Versa is called the Sunny and the Fit is called the Jazz. In the Middle East.

  8. That bit of black plastic behind the rear doors ruins the whole side of the car. They should get rid of it in the next facelift

  9. It's a good car. Better than a Toyota Yaris and a Mirage, but still not seeing a lot of people choosing this over the Fiesta or the Fit.

  10. Micah is a cool guy, ok. The firs 20 reviews that I have seen with him were cool. But at some point clowning around gets old. Tired of it. Do something else. Thumb down, sorry.

  11. 08 Kia Rio. Had it for three years. There’s cheap and there is inexpensive. An old Civic is inexpensive. It’s well made. Ten years down the line it still gets the job done. How many 2005 Rio’s do you see on the road after all this time? So glad l got rid of mine for a Plymouth Fury

  12. Subcompact sedans are so impractical when a hatchback sibling (or competitors subcompact hatchback) exists. As a hatchback, the Rio is a nice car inside and out!

  13. No backup camera on lower trims. Even the Chevy Spark has backup camera across the line. Once you get used to the rear camera, which reveals a lot of if cross traffic, it's hard to go back.

    Hatchbacks are a big plus in San Francisco where there is an epidemic of car break-ins by thieves wanting to explore the trunk. With a hatchback you can remove the rear lid to show the trunk is empty.


    2017 Kia Rio LX, auto, hatchback. 2 adults(300 lbs), 2 mountain bikes with front wheels removed inside of a car, 3 camping bags of stuff, medium electric cooler full of food.

    Came back from 1756 km road trip, 80% flat, 10% light hills, 5% long hills, 5% steep mountain driving.
    No A/C was used.
    Canadian Rockies, Northern Montana, Southern and central Alberta.
    Kept 95 km/h(60mph) cruise control on flat stretches.
    Used manual shifting in the steep mountain driving.

    Result. Average 4.5 liters on 100 km (52MPG) AMAZING!!!!

  15. It actually does make sense where you mentioned the MPG of the Camry. The engine in the Rio is years behind in engineering.

  16. "And the Mitsubishi Mirage is also a car"
    Translated: These are the best cars to get unless you want that awful Mitsubishi Mirage!

  17. Who purchases a 2018 Kia Rio 5 door Hatchback new? This guy! It is about needs over wants, being debt free; with a 20 year 200.000 mile drive train warranty and a bumper to bumper 7 year 120,000 mile warranty – you realize Car Dealers matter! It is not for everyone, hence having other choices, but if you want an economical vehicle that has a roomy feel inside for a small car, give it a test drive.

  18. What a douchy review. Did they even take this seriously? I would expect thos from an independent reviewer, but KBB? Very unprofessional.

  19. Why would anybody buy the Rio Sedan, when the hatchback exists? The hatchback is more practical, looks cooler, it's shorter (therefore a bit easier to maneuver), and it's only slightly more expensive.

  20. I've driven these a lot, it's actually a great car. Our base LX hatchbacks have a heated leather wrapped steering wheel, heated seats, touch screen, the power isn't bad, I wouldn't mind one after I'm done with my 2013 Accent manual, which I usually get 35-40 mpg with.

  21. My 2018 rio hatchback is getting around 41 highway. 30 city. My best in the 2000 miles I've driven was 43 average on an entire tank

  22. I had one a few years ago. It was a good car but the gas mileage was disappointing. For an “economy”car, I expected better than 25-28 mpg in town and about 32 mpg on the highway. My 2016 Elantra beats the Rio by about 10 mpg all of the time.

  23. My 3days old Kia Rio 2018 FULLY IMPORTED engine defect, flapping sound (they dont know due to what) and key chain sound (due to using RON95, they said the car is designed for RON97) from the engine or gearbox. Reported the case since 8/1/19 until now, no solution nor how they wanna fix this. Im aware KIA Motors Corp already got my case file.

    KIA MALAYSIA Careline staff, Puan Labilah told me "currently our principle is busy with system upgrading, your car still can drive rite? If you wanna bring it to consumer affairs, thats your rights." Ok, i will do that, Thanks.

    So, if ur car still can drive, then u r not priority and ur case will be sitting on shelf somewhere. Manufacturing defect due to QC issue in Korea, not priority. If defects due to wear and tear, next year, I assume.

    If u wanna buy Kia Rion 2018 6 speed and u wanna pump RON95, buy other cars unless u wanna enjoy key chain sound while driving. IT IS DESIGNED this way!

    Kia Motors Worldwide Quality Control in seriously in question. A brand new imported car with engine defects, along come with other sounds.

  24. Who would buy a Kia Rio over a Toyota Corolla. Sorry but Korean cars are junk. If you want quality and reliabilty, buy a TOYOTA.

  25. Omg i died when he mentioned mirage 😂😂😂 please, can that that lyn girl stop reviewing for kbb and micah just do it forever 😍

  26. Loved my 2004 Rio, although it had it's quirks, going over 50mph the windows would rattle and shimmy down, and if I made a sharp turn, accelerated quickly, or brake hard the air control knob would turn itself from the front vent to floor vent or defroster (depending on how hard of a turn, stop, accelerate.) It was the best car I've driven in the snow. Now I have 2012 Accent it drives horribly in the snow and like an carburetor car, it sucks in the cold.

  27. Poor and cheap interior design just like the i20. Old, thirstier, powerless engines, and poor ride feel. I won’t buy these kia Rios and i20s

  28. Just bought the sedan version; absolutely love this car. Affordable, seemingly reliable, packed with features, good on gas, and aesthetically pleasing both inside and out. Car has an underestimated sporty feel and look to it too. Good option for someone not looking to drop an obscene amount of money on a car

  29. well cheap is depends where you from and how much is your salary each month or over a year.if you mean a country like USA-canada-australia-germany yes its cheap and a person can buy one of these so easy but if you from a country like iran took you about 400 to 700 years of work to buy one of these and with current value rate of currency decreases each year you may never can buy one.
    and trust me with piece of junk internal made unsafe cars they feet to the poor people here,this car is a king.
    150000 to 250000 people die in iran each year by car accident and no body give a shit but they see a cat or dog get hurt on youtube and people like ahhh poor thing.

  30. yeah this is a good car to get to point a and point b that's about it. i choose the optima s with panoramic sunroof over the rio cuz the optima just has way more features like daylight running headlights, panoramic sunroof, and metallic paint that make the car feel and look luxuriousness. the rio is just..a cheap stripped down commuter.

  31. This is clearly a 2018–for 2019, the EX trim level no longer exists, and they don't offer alloy wheels or leather seats on either the sedan or hatchback. Also, that shot of the manual transmission at 3:40 was never US spec. In the US, the manual was only available on the stripper LX. That's probably a shot of the Canadian spec, which offered a manual transmission with heated seats.

  32. Next time (KBB) a review is made, please; do not use an arrogant prick. You cannot expect but your reputation go down when a reviewer starts with that line and 1:20 min into the review (under the payroll of KBB) audience looking for unbiased and to the point review gets upset and stop watching it right and there and wonder why KBB does not pull the plug$$ on this guy review. You see? Not everyone is looking for sport cars or funny idiots making unrelated remarks.

  33. Nah Id rather go with the Mirage. Cheaper to own, cheaper to maintain, and better real world mpg. Rio looks good though, Id drive it.

  34. Honestly I love this car. I’m a 21 year old female, my car payments are not high, I have Bluetooth, a backup camera and reliable transportation for my dog and I. I highly recommend this car

  35. the toyota yaris has the notable claim of being a toyota 😂😂😂😂 i didn't expect to laugh while car researching, thank you

  36. I have a hunch that Kia will phase out the Rio Hatchback after next year. I see more of the sedans than the hatchbacks.

  37. Very nice review as usual! And very nice music both in the beginning and end of the video. Does anyone know which song/songs are playing? Shazam has difficulties recognizing these ones…

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