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2008 Kia Rio

Overview
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2008 Kia Rio Review

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Consumers on budgets have learned that finding a new sedan for under $12,000 is not easy. And finding one with standard front and rear side-curtain airbags and a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty leaves only one option: The 2008 Kia Rio. The Rio's bargain-basement price doesn't come at the expense of styling or fuel economy. The handsome little four-door is quite the looker, and those willing to spend a bit more cash can equip this little entry-level econobox with such upscale features as power windows, AM/FM/CD stereo and heated outside mirrors. The Rio has also made great strides in refinement over previous models, with more precision in the gearshift, less vibration from under the hood and a higher quality feel both inside and out.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're seeking a fuel-efficient small car that is affordable, stylish, roomy and well equipped, the 2008 Kia Rio makes a great choice. Those worried about long-term reliability can take comfort in the Rio's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If finding a car with the highest fuel efficiency, best resale value and strongest customer satisfaction survey responses are more important than a low sticker price, purchasing a Nissan, Scion or Honda may be a better choice.

What's New for 2008

A five-door LX model is added to the Rio line (covered in a separate review), while all LX models receive a new auxiliary audio input jack.

Driving the Rio

Driving Impressions Ride comfort and easy maneuverability head the list of Rio merits. Even when the pavement gets troublesome, the Rio's suspension absorbs considerable roughness. Steering is light, but the Rio is...

delightfully nimble in urban environments, tracks adeptly on straightaways and is easy to guide into turns. Through curves the body doesn't lean as much as might be expected. Performance is improved but is no more than adequate with the mannerly automatic transmission. Although the engine gets seriously buzzy when accelerating, it quiets nicely at speed. A low cowl and sizable rear glass help create nearly unobstructed visibility.
Favorite Features

Six Standard Airbags
If Kia can put side-impact airbags and curtain-type airbags into every Rio, one wonders why other automakers have made these important safety features optional -- if available at all.

Automatic Transmission
Unlike some small cars with automatics, the Rio goes through the gears promptly and easily, with no awkwardness or lurching. Shifts are barely noticed, in fact, though the manual transmission can deliver slightly more spirited acceleration.

2008 Kia Rio Details
2008 Kia Rio photo Interior

Although five passengers can squeeze into the Rio, longer-legged folks might not be comfortable in the backseat. Rear head- and foot-room are adequate, but the rear seat is hard and reclines excessively, and the center occupant straddles a tunnel. Front occupants get ample space on supportive and well-cushioned seats. The Rio's trunk has grown to 11.9 cubic feet and, with the LX trim, can be expanded thanks to the 60/40 split-folding rear seat. The Rio5 is a bit more useful, thanks to its large hatch opening and folding rear seats. Helpful extras include a dashboard slot that can hold a parking ticket, plus a hook that can carry a purse.

Exterior

Although designed in South Korea, the Rio's European-influenced appearance imparts a sporty and youthful character into an entry-level automobile. It's bigger than one might think, given its sub-compact status, and it has a better-tuned suspension and a wider track than the last model. As a result, the Rio delivers a smooth ride with somewhat sporty handling. The Rio rides on 14-inch steel wheels and the upper-level LX is equipped with full-wheel covers and wider tires, while the SX can be equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2008 Kia Rio features a 1.6-liter engine, five-speed manual transmission, body-colored bumpers, auto-off headlamps, rear defroster, variable wipers, height-adjustable driver's seat, tachometer, dual sun visors with vanity mirrors, dual cup holders and front, front side-impact and full-length side-curtain airbags. The LX trim adds air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with CD, auxiliary audio input jack, power steering, full wheel covers, tilt steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seat and rear-seat adjustable headrests. SX models include 15-inch alloy wheels, sport seats with red trim, fog lights and a rear spoiler.

Optional Equipment

Options for the Rio include a four-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), dual heated power mirrors, power windows, power locks with remote keyless entry, front tweeter upgrade and a rear spoiler.

Under the Hood

Kia has raised the power of its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which drives either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Although Kia has made major improvements in noise, vibration and harshness, the Rio's engine is still buzzy at high speed and lacks the smoothness and refinement of its Japanese competitors. Fuel economy is excellent, and it's EPA-rated at 35 miles per gallon on the highway when equipped with the four-speed automatic.

1.6-liter in-line 4
110 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
107 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/32 (manual), 25/35 (automatic)

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2008 Kia Rio Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.1
Out of 10

Based on 175 Ratings for the 2006 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.6/10
    Quality
    8.3/10
  • Reliability
    8.8/10
    Performance
    8.3/10
  • Comfort
    8.1/10
    Styling
    8.2/10

Vehicle has been very dependable. Ready to go.

By on Thursday, March 27, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,500

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Confident. Great start up. Acceleration wonderful."

Cons: "Regular size vehicle."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Body on vehicle great with just two exceptional dings on the driver side passenger door. Rear bumper backed into by someone. No apparent damage. MP3 CD player not used. Front tires changed out last year. Ignition switched out due to tumbler being messed up in December 2013. was under warranty. Knock-Knock sensor changed out in December 2013 on a recall. No problems otherwise. Mechanically sound. Great Transportation."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Great little car!

By on Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 67,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great price, great gas mileage, fun to drive"

Cons: "No cruise control, no MP3/iPod dock"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I call this car my transformer because it's a compact car that acts like a pickup truck! I have thoroughly enjoyed owning and driving this car and it has never let me down! My overall rating and comfort & convenience rating are 9 out of 10 for two very minor reasons: 1. no cruise control and 2. no MP3/iPod dock. The gas mileage is great and I have hauled a lot of stuff in it from furniture to trees and shrubs! And I have NEVER gotten stuck in a snow storm! Routine maintenance has kept this car in tip top shape and very reliable."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

this is a very good little car

By on Friday, February 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 135,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "reliable and very good fuel economy"

Cons: "really nothing"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Great car!I have driven this car daily for 4 years and can honestly say that this car has never wanted anything except for coil packs (3) and power steering belts (2). Very good powerfor daily driving with exellent handling characteristics. The pros are simple very reliable and very good car with a nice ammount of space. The cons are if you drive in either a city or a mountainous area the AC needs to off or turned down"

Purchased my car new in 2006 and still love it

By on Thursday, February 20, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 144,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Cold a/c, design features in and out, roomy."

Cons: "steering a bit difficult. No leather in 2006"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"At 144,440 miles I still love my car. Kia have the coldest A/c. I have never had to do anything with it except routine tasks like oil changes, shocks, struts, ignition coil. After 144,000 miles everything still works. Gets great gas mileage and drives fine for a compact wagon. The 2012 model made improvements with increasing the ease of use with steering as well as made it a smoother ride. Would buy another one in a heartbeat!"

i have had this 2006 rio for 6 years, very happy

By on Monday, January 13, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "cheap, dependable, quiet for a cheap compact"

Cons: "engine high rpms with 5 speed"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"purchased this used with 25k miles. it now has over 100k. i have the le model w/5speed and air. thats about all the options it has. it runs great, gets good mpg 28-33. i have had a few minor issues but nothing i wouldn't expect. at 90k front end was eating tires quickly, needed new ball joints to fix problem. (easiest ball joints i ever replaced on a car) starter went out at 95k (not so easy to get to). thats about all the work its needed besides brake pads. still runs great, not a rattle bucket, drives pretty quiet and smooth for the kind of car it is. i have been very happy with this car. one negitive is the engine high rpms on the hwy with the 5 speed. i put on a little taller tires and it helped."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

alignment issues from the start

By on Friday, January 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
5/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
4/10
Styling
3/10
Comfort
4/10

Pros: "decent gas milage, but not the 40 hwy advertised"

Cons: "poor workman ship, bad customer service"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"I have had this car since Jan of 2012. I never noticed any pulling, had my tires rotated as I should, yet had to replace tires in Mar 2013, and now again in jan 2014! The customer service I have received what I would call mediocre at best. They admit there are alignment issues, but are reluctant deal with much at all I have never had a new car give me problems like this. I am completely disgusted!"

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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