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2009 Kia Rio

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2009 Kia Rio Review

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Consumers on budgets have learned that finding a new sedan for around $12,000 is not easy. And finding one with standard front and rear side-curtain airbags and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty leaves only one option: The 2009 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, steering-wheel audio controls 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 2009 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 and 5-year/60,000 basic 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 Versa, Toyota Yaris or Honda Fit may be a better choice.

What's New for 2009

All 2009 Kia Rio models receive an AM/FM/MP3 compatible CD stereo with a three-month trial subscription to SIRIUS Satellite Radio as standard equipment. LX and SX trims add a USB port beside the standard auxiliary audio input jack.

Driving the Rio
Driving Impressions

Ride comfort and easy maneuverability head the list of the 2009 Kia Rio's 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.

Six Standard Airbags
If Kia can put side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags into every Rio, one wonders why all automakers have not followed.

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.

2009 Kia Rio Details
2009 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 nicely-tuned suspension and a wide track for added stability. 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 2009 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, AM/FM stereo with MP3-compatible CD player, 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, auxiliary audio input jack and USB port, 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, steering wheel audio controls, front tweeter upgrade and a rear spoiler.

Under the Hood

The 2009 Kia Rio is powered by a 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: 27/33 (manual), 26/35 (automatic)

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2009 Kia Rio Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.1
Out of 10

Based on 197 Ratings for the 2006 - 2011 models.

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

Great price, great car.

By on Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Value. Durability. Styling."

Cons: "Paint finish scratches easily."

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

"I bought this car brand new in 2010 and have had zero problems. The mileage is actually getting better as it ages. I'm 6'2" and the drivers seat is extremely comfortable. For the money it is one of the most reliable cars I've ever owned."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Reliable and sturdy compact car!

By on Friday, February 19, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 109,500

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
5/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Reliability."

Cons: "Ride comfort"

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

"I bought my 2006 Kia Rio used in 2013 with around 80,000 miles. So, I've owned it for 3 years and put in about 40,000 miles on it. I have had no problems with this compact car. All I have done is regular maintenance: replacing spark plugs and timing belt. I am very happy with the reliability and quality of this car. Also I have driven this car from coast to coast a few times. I live in Texas but have driven this car to Savannah, Georgia three times and to LA once. I have driven this car to NJ to visit my sister and back also. This car has gone through a lot of driving but there is no showing of wearing or problems on the horizon. The only downside is lack of ride comfort. But you can't expect that from a compact car so I will accept that shortcoming."

7 people out of 16 found this review helpful

This car is a lemon and a black hole for money!

By on Friday, February 5, 2016

I owned and sold this car

10 2.0
overall rating 2 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
2/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
3/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
3/10
Styling
2/10
Comfort
2/10

Pros: "Great on gas!"

Cons: "Everything else!"

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

"I bought this car several years ago and head a constant headache from the moment I drove it out of the lot. All the bearings went, recalls on parts, brake issues, the timing belt, electrical issues, fuses blown, you name it! Every other week I had to replace a bulb on a turning signal or brake light. The cloth ceiling started falling down and the brake sensor started going at 60k. Any little things like buttons or clips made from cheap plastic will break. The entire setup is cramped and uncomfortable and made of cheap light-colored cloth that stains easily. Any money you think you're saving on this "value" of a car will be dumped into this black hole of an investment no matter how well you think you "maintain your vehicles". I dropped 6K (at least) on the constant minor repairs on this cheap plastic car in the first two years of ownership alone. I was lucky anyone even gave me any money for it when I sold it last year since Kias violently devalue. Get a Toyota and save yourself the hassle. I know I did."

6 people out of 9 found this review helpful

New tires, minimal inside wear, outside dings

By on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,186

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "only 21,186 original miles"

Cons: "minor scratches, normal wear inside but clean"

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

"Only 21,186 miles. Brand new tires, alignment, outside dings and minor scratches from shopping carts that users don't put in their proper location, minor squirrel skids (have repaired most of them), front & rear camera black boxes, minimal inside wear, no visible rust, undercoating maintain by owner, maintenance every 5,000 miles (uses synthetic oil)and best spark plugs installed, new air filter."

18 people out of 36 found this review helpful

Good transportation.

By on Monday, August 17, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000

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
9/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Good gas mileage , and dependable"

Cons: "Road and wind noise."

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

"Had timing belt replaced at about 70,000 miles. One spark plug coil went bad at 80,000, so I replaced the spark plugs at that time also. Only other issue was the condensation drain for the A/C plugged up, resulting in wet carpet on right side floor. Pretty simple fix. Really, excellent transportation for the money."

12 people out of 19 found this review helpful

it's aight

By on Monday, June 8, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000

10 4.0
overall rating 4 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
4/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
6/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
1/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "great gas mileage"

Cons: "literally everything else"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2

"It's an ok car... She gets great gas mileage. I can drive from Jackson Hole to Salt Lake on one $27 tank of gas. Don't even try getting up any kind of incline without getting significant momentum or you'll be in 4th gear going 15mph. If you live in a flat city and never plan on leaving, this car is ok. For anyone who even has a steep driveway..... keep looking."

17 people out of 28 found this review helpful

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