By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.7
If the subcompact category were a movie, the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent would be the stars, soaking up the highly sought-after screen time, each exuding their own unique talents to draw in the audience. But what about the Kia Rio? Well, it would probably be that one guy in that one scene with that one line that no one really remembers. Until now. For 2012, the Kia Rio has been revamped and restyled in an attempt to gain more notoriety in the sub-compact ranks. Like Matt Damon going from Good Will Hunting to The Bourne Identity, it might be a little weird at first, but its audience will be more accepting in time. And maybe a short time, at that, thanks to the 2012 Kia Rio's new talents and eccentric styling.
The 2012 Kia Rio is an inexpensive sub-compact that delivers a great value and superb fuel economy backed by an outstanding warranty.
While the 2012 Kia Rio is a well-rounded car, it doesn't excel in cargo capacity like the Honda Fit or driving fun like the Ford Fiesta.
The Kia Rio has been completely revamped for 2012 and has an even lower price tag. It's still available as a 4-door sedan, but adds a 5-door hatchback design, both of which sport a new look, a new engine and enough tech-savvy features to make others in its class jealous.
Driving Impressions Our time behind the wheel of the 2012 Kia Rio consisted mainly of highway driving, but it was enough to get a feel of what the front-wheel-drive sub-compact has to...offer – and it didn't disappoint. The eager 1.6-liter engine has more than enough power for passing slower trucks, although most of the power can be felt in the higher-rpm range. We were surprised at how comfortable the car rides considering its small size, but the soft ride doesn't compromise its handling abilities. In sorting out the suspension, Kia's engineers used the Ford Fiesta as their benchmark to ensure some sporty footwork and, while we can say they got pretty close, we can't say they exceeded it. The 2012 Kia Rio is agile and confident in the turns but, in the overall sense, we wouldn't equate it to the same athletic feel as the Ford Fiesta or Mazda2. Aside from the driving dynamics, we're happy to report that even after two straight hours of driving, the Rio was just as pleasant as when we first stepped foot inside. The seats are comfortable and only minimal road noise could be detected, another pleasant surprise for a car in this class.
Idle Stop and Go (ISG) Technology
It's a little disconcerting at first but, once we got used to the sound of the car starting after every stop, we took comfort in the added fuel savings that the feature entails.
Factory navigation systems are uncommon at this price point and we like that the Kia Rio blazes the trail by offering this feature.
Aesthetics aside, what really sets the 2012 Kia Rio apart from the competition is its lavish interior and impressive list of standard and available features. The Rio incorporates a 3-cylinder instrument panel and wraparound dash design that is simple and user-friendly. Some of the more notable available features include Bluetooth, a 7-inch navigation system with a rear-view camera, push-button start, a UVO voice-activated infotainment system and leather seating surfaces for a more upscale feel. While most, if not all of these features can be obtained in the Rio's competitors, we were more impressed in the fact that the Rio offers them in the first place. A shockingly good surprise.Exterior
Our time with the 2012 Kia Rio was limited to the 5-door variant, which shares the same features and mechanical details with its 4-door sibling but just looks better, in our opinion. Kia's design engineers went back the drawing board and wedged the edges, sloped the shoulder lines and sculpted a new look for the Rio using design elements from its Optima and Sportage brethren. The Rio incorporates Kia's signature grille flanked by slanted headlights and a large air dam. Sweeping side character lines slope up to the high-placed taillights and steeply-raked rear window. The base Rio sits on 15-inch steel wheel or alloys, but stepping to the up-level SX brings more stylish 17-inch alloys. All things said, it looks like the product of some serious Optima and Sportage canoodling.
The 2012 Kia Rio LX comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission (a 6-speed automatic is available), air conditioning, a radio with auxiliary/USB input, steering-wheel audio controls and four speakers and that's about it. Power windows and door locks are optional. Stepping up to the EX and SX trims includes the power accessories and adds many other features: Cruise control, UVO audio and rearview camera, AM/FM/CD/MP3/SiriusXM audio, Bluetooth, power door locks, power windows and other visual and convenience upgrades to the interior and exterior.
Options for the 2012 Kia Rio come in the form of packages. For example, notable features in the SX Premium Package include push-button start with Smart Key, a navigation system, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats and a moonroof. The ECO package includes the ISG (Idle Stop and Go) technology and Active ECO system for optimal fuel-efficient driving.
The 2012 Kia Rio's sole motivator is the same 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter direct-injected 4-cylinder engine that powers its Hyundai Accent cousin. With automatic transmission, the power plant returns projected gas mileage numbers of 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. But the Rio has an ace up its sleeve in the form of ISG technology. The acronym stands for "Idle Stop and Go," which is a fuel-saving system that turns off the engine when the car is stopped and seamlessly turns it on again when the brake pedal is released. This eco-smart mechanism is good for approximately one more mpg across the board, according to Kia.
1.6-liter in-line 4
138 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
123 lb-ft of torque @ 4,850 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/37 (manual), 28/36 (automatic)
By Randy on Thursday, March 05, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,600overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cheap and okay on gas"
Cons: "Cheap and Cheap and Cheap"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I have owned this car for almost two years now, and have had put it through some things a car like this should never be through. Driving through a muddy field not realizing the pumpkin patch was all dirt and it rained the previous night. Driving it hard on a track, and driving it through miles upon miles of gravel roads. For how much this car was bought for brand new, I have to say it's not a bad car, however it's not a great car either. Almost every interior panel rattles, even on the smoothest of roads. Lacks big time in the power department. It does how ever have a good feeling steering wise brakes are sharp and it does okay in the corners. To sum up if you need a cheap new car then go for it, just don't have high expectations. If you can afford to go to a better quality brand then go for it by all means."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By ohdougles on Friday, February 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 150overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good Gas Mileage, Great Stereo System, Cheap"
Cons: "Comfort, No Cruise Control"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I purchased this vehicle last week and I have had no problems driving-wise. This vehicle I feel is a great way for an up-and-coming 20 year old to establish credit and make payments like an adult, haha! Cheap cost for a big investment and you cannot go wrong with Kia's warranty. The front seats are a bit uncomfortable, especially the passenger seat, but it's not too bad. With the lowest model having no cruise control, arm rest nor power locks, it's a bit annoying. Roll down windows are a lot cheaper/easier to fix than power ones. The stereo system is amazing, but with limited EQ adjustments, it doesn't sound the greatest. It has road noise, but I like that in a car because I'd like to know if I just ran over something dangerous or not. Also no spare tire which i don't like, but with the warranty you get road side assistance. Some dealers might even give you a deal on a spare tire kit. Blind spots are an issue as well but that just takes some good driving experience and patience to get used to I guess. Great gas mileage so far. The pedals are more firm than what I'm used to and with the Active Eco function on, it doesn't want to drag race... All and all it's a great big boy/girl purchase and with no real risk. Thumbs up Kia ;)"
15 people out of 30 found this review helpful
By Eva on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I don't own this caroverall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I've had this car for just over a week as a rental since my last car was totaled and it has been the biggest pain. I have had to fill the gas tank up 3 times in the week. I have used it mostly for work (I live 15 minutes away from my job) and one social gathering that was only 30 minutes away. The mileage is terrible and the tank is small. If this were my previous car it wouldn't even be close to half empty. The seats are terribly uncomfortable. Anyone who I have given a ride to has complained not only about the comfort of the seats, but the leg room as well. Unless I put the AC on the cool air setting only blows out warm air. It cannot handle little gusts of wind... and I'm not even talking about heavy gusts of wind that would kind of rattle your car while driving. No, just enough wind to blow some leaves across the road and not even rustle any trees. The doors unlock the moment I put my car into park. Something I really greatly dislike. I will unlock my doors when I'm ready to. I'm not about to have my doors unlock all at once in the middle of the city, in the middle of the night, when I'm by myself. I will never get one and if I can help it I will never get in another one again."
22 people out of 49 found this review helpful
By sandee on Monday, December 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "plenty back seat room"
Cons: "not a lot of power, saves speed tickets"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I like the steering wheel controls for music, etc. It is black with off white fabric seats, black floor mats and carpet within. Completely straight, no dents, touch ups, new windshield with built in 3rd visor fret, new wipers, reg. oil changes. driven by a little old lady. me"
20 people out of 41 found this review helpful
By GoneGooner on Tuesday, December 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "gas mileage, price"
Cons: "bit bumpy of a ride at high speeds"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Glad I bought this car. Fairly inexpensive, but looks stylish enough. Great gas mileage, so excellent commuter car. Small size helps the parking situation in Philadelphia, but hatch style still affords you a ton for moving space. Great features for a car this price. Would highly recommend for city resident."
14 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By Ken on Saturday, October 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Comfort level 7 Too much road noise. This care has all power, but not cruise control, which is of necessity because it increases highway driving comfort. Too bad Kia does not support after-market cruise control installation. All warranty is void if you do install cruise control."
23 people out of 46 found this review helpful