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2018 Kia Rio

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2018 Kia Rio Expert Review

By Allyson Harwood

The value-packed 2018 Kia Rio, available as a sedan or 5-door hatchback, boasts a larger interior than its diminutive size would suggest, a generous serving of tech-savvy features and the best warranty in the segment. The Rio is a more substantial car than its sub-$15,000 base price would suggest, and its options list includes items that you'd normally find on cars costing significantly more. All-new for 2018, the Rio is bolstered by an attractive, quiet interior, a comfortable ride, and an expansive array of safety features. An underappreciated car in the subcompact group, the Rio is poised to take on segment standouts like the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa (and Note), Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris.

You'll Like This Car If...

For city dwellers, the Kia Rio offers an appealing mix of good fuel economy, good looks and lots of value, while making it much easier to deal with snug parking spaces. The Rio also boasts a fantastic warranty, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility and safety features including autonomous emergency braking.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If your goal is to find a low-priced fuel-sipper, the Rio does the job, but you can find better fuel economy elsewhere. The Rio also lacks a hybrid or electric option. There are also subcompact cars that offer a more sporting attitude.

How It Ranks
2018 Kia Rio Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

Kia's subcompact sedan and hatchback are all-new for 2018, riding on a new, larger platform with a new body. The redesigned interior is more upscale, and the Rio also has an expanded suite of safety features.

Driving the Rio
2018 Kia Rio Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

Thanks to a new platform and suspension, the longer, lower, wider Kia Rio feels more planted and confident than in the past and has more poise than you might expect...

... for its size and price. The newly redesigned cabin is smartly laid out, is roomier than the car's size would suggest, and is available with features you'd expect to find at a higher price point. The Rio is available with one engine and either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. The Rio used every ounce of the engine's 130 horsepower and 119 lb-ft of torque, and did fine accelerating onto the freeway. This isn't a ton of power, but the benefit is better fuel economy. Considering this is a commuter car, getting mpg as good as 29 in the city and 37 on the highway will offer a bigger benefit than high horsepower in the long run.

TECH-FRIENDLY INTERIOR
It's easy to stay connected in the Rio, with available features like a 7-inch display to run Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Sirius satellite radio is standard, Bluetooth and a rearview camera are available, and there's a USB jack and optional charger.

SAFETY FEATURES
The Kia Rio is one of the least expensive cars to offer Autonomous Emergency Braking. There's also a long list of safety features that are standard across the board. Six airbags, hill-start assist, vehicle-stability management and tire-pressure monitoring are included on every Rio.

2018 Kia Rio Details
2018 Kia Rio Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

The Kia Rio's relatively roomy interior looks more upscale than you may expect in this size category -- even in the base LX -- and contains several appealing convenience and tech features. The screen serves as the infotainment center and is well placed near the top of the dashboard. Controls to adjust temperature and the stereo are logically placed and within easy reach. Steering-wheel-mounted controls are standard; the more features your Rio has, the more features you can control via buttons on the steering wheel. Leather accents are optional on the EX.

Exterior
2018 Kia Rio photo

Whether in 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback form, the Rio's new looks have a European influence, and the Rio is now both sportier and more mature than in the past. Even though the sedan and hatch share the same wheelbase, the sedan is almost 13 inches longer. All models come with 15-inch wheels and tires, but step up to the EX and your Rio rides on alloy wheels. Also differentiating the EX from the rest are fog lights, a black-and-chrome grille, and a black/body-color bumper.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The starting price for the base LX, including destination fees, is under $15,000. There are some pleasant standard-equipment surprises in the LX trim, such as the 5-inch audio display, steering-wheel-mounted controls, air conditioning, tinted glass, Sirius satellite radio and extensive safety equipment. However, you'll be cranking the windows by hand, the 15-inch wheels are steel with covers, you don't get a center console with armrest, a 60/40-split rear seat comes only on S-and-higher Rio sedans (standard on hatchbacks), and power seats aren't offered on any trim level.

Optional Equipment

If you opt for the top-of-the-line EX, you're welcomed by a Rio with alloy wheels, front fog lights, heated side mirrors, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel (it's tilt-only on LX and S) and a 3.5-inch LCD display within the gauge cluster. You control UVO3 infotainment and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto through a 7-inch screen, and you get cruise control and one-touch auto up/down power windows. On the safety side, all EX models come with Autonomous Emergency Braking.

Under the Hood
2018 Kia Rio Engine photo

The engine is an updated version of the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder that powered last year's Rio. Power is down a bit -- a mere eight horsepower -- from last year, but the upside is that fuel economy has improved for 2018, by one mpg on the highway and as much as two mpg in the city. You can get a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission in either the 4-door sedan or the 5-door hatchback.

1.6-liter inline-4
130 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
119 lb-ft of torque @ 4,850 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/37 mpg (manual), 28/37 mpg (automatic)

The value-minded 2018 Kia Rio sedan starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $14,795 for the LX with the 6-speed manual. That is $1,160 less than in 2017. Spend another $1,090 and you get the 6-speed automatic. The hatchback starts at $15,095, which is also a lower starting price than last year. Both body styles top out at around $21,000. The Honda Fit and Nissan Versa Note hatchbacks have starting prices that are a little higher than the Rio, as does the 2018 Toyota Yaris. On the sedan side, you can get a Ford Fiesta for just under $15,000 and the Nissan Versa for around $13,000. Check KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Rio.

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