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2012 Kia Rio

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2012 Kia Rio Review

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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.

You'll Like This Car If...

The 2012 Kia Rio is an inexpensive sub-compact that delivers a great value and superb fuel economy backed by an outstanding warranty.

You May Not Like This Car If...

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.

What's New for 2012

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 the Rio

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.

Navigation system
Factory navigation systems are uncommon at this price point and we like that the Kia Rio blazes the trail by offering this feature.

2012 Kia Rio Details
Interior

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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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.

Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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)

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2012 Kia Rio Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.0
Out of 10

Based on 46 Ratings for the 2012 - 2016 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.4/10
    Quality
    7.9/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    7.8/10
  • Comfort
    7.9/10
    Styling
    8.1/10

One of my favorite cars ive owned

By on Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Cant beat the price for the goods."

Cons: "I miss power door locks but it aint a deal breaker"

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

"This car is amazing for the money. Fit n finish is high, peppy engine, solid auto trans 6 speed, 34 mpg city / 43 mpg highway., lots of width in the front for driver and passenger, lots of length for driver (I'm 6'3.5") , sporty looks, radio above average sound, road noise minimal with stock tires. I have 35 k. miles on the odometer. No trouble ----- I like to drive it each day."

17 people out of 30 found this review helpful

My little dream

By on Wednesday, October 07, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 800

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great price, easy to park, fun to drive"

Cons: "Road noise if you don't upgrade tires"

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

"Had this car for about a month now and it's really great! I drive on the highway on my way to work and it handles really well even as big trucks went by. Accelerates pretty well. I average 35 mpg. The interior is the best part, love my clear back up camera, nice room in front&back, lots of cup holders and overall nice details! The outside of the car is very stylish looks like a smaller optima and I love the turn signal lights on the mirrors. Love the warranty and love this car!"

16 people out of 34 found this review helpful

great car

By on Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "great quality, great warranty"

Cons: "so far none"

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

"had a 2010 yaris, was a gutless worm, really noisy, traded it in after 3yrs, got rio5 & really happy, better gas mileage, way better brakes, handling, quieter, better performance, just a great little hatchback, get the upgraded model though, I like cc, tilt wheel, I bought the sx top of the line model, no problems with anything so far........"

8 people out of 13 found this review helpful

I love my Kia Rio!

By on Sunday, June 28, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great MPG, affordable, sleek car seats"

Cons: "no center console"

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

"I had recently bought a Kia Rio brand new, and after driving it for about 40-50 miles, which by now is about 70, I love this car! It has 37 MPG and honestly the only small gripe about it, is that there is no center armrest, which hurts my elbow as it is used to having something to place it on. There is also more than plenty of room for people in the back and front. The trunk is great because how it is built, if you have something like metal in the back and it hits the side of the car, it won't dent the car's side body. I truly love this car, and Kia's 100,000 mile, 10 year warranty!"

29 people out of 50 found this review helpful

One of my favorite cars of all time.

By on Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 62,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "inexpensive, roomy, fun to drive, high MPG"

Cons: "road noise."

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

"I enjoy getting 38-48 mpg consistently, and I love the sporty looks. It handles well, and I would love to be more aggressive if not for police. It has more leg room than any car or SUV or van I have owned, and I have had them all. The truck is large, too. The only minor grievance that I have is the road noise. You need to have the right tires to keep it to a minimum. Otherwise, it is my favorite car."

24 people out of 40 found this review helpful

Great Car for someone needed cheap transport

By on Thursday, March 05, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,600

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
4/10

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."

18 people out of 22 found this review helpful

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