The 2013 Kia Rio is one of those vehicles that is full of a lot of hit and misses. It is certainly attractive and the price is right, but it tends to fall short of the competition, when it comes to performance and handling. It does not matter if you choose the sedan or hatchback, the base engine is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder paired to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. This engine offers 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque, and moves the sedan to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds. Rio Hatchback lags behind arriving at the line at 9.7 seconds. Standard fuel economy is impressive though at 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. You might hope for an optional engine, but you are not going to get one here. The only upgrade option you will get is the EX Eco package. This bumps fuel economy to 30 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, thanks to start-stop technology. As for driving, the ride is a bit choppy, the suspension is firm, and the steering is not as responsive as others in this segment. There can be a lot of road, engine, and wind noise too. However, you almost feel silly nitpicking about the little things given the price.
• Audio - You would not expect much more than a four-speaker base system at this price, and that is exactly what you will get. However, it does come with iPod interface, auxiliary jack, CD player, and satellite radio. An upgraded audio system with a six-speaker system is available, but you do not even get the touchscreen interface without the Convenience package.
• Navigation - Upgrading to the SX trim is the only way to get the navigation system, which features a larger touchscreen and real-time traffic.
• Bluetooth - Available on EX and SX trims, Bluetooth lets you answer, end, and send calls safely without taking your eyes off the road.
Rio's safety scores do not fall in line with the high ratings of much of the Kia lineup. It received four out of five stars in government crash testing. The four stars were in the frontal-offset protection category. Braking is quite impressive though. Rio Sedan stops from 60 mph in 124 feet while hatchback is even better at 119 feet; both are impressive distances. Rearview camera is optional on all models. Standard safety features to appreciate include:
• Stability control
• Antilock brakes
• Turn signal mirrors
• Emergency braking assist
• Interior trunk release
• Rear door safety locks
• Traction control
• Dusk sensing headlamps
• Tire pressure monitoring
• Child seat anchors
• Electronic brakeforce distribution
• Daytime running lamps
• Front seatbelt pretensioners
Here is the category where Rio really shines; this is a good-looking car thanks to its redesign in 2012. Rio is available as both a four-door sedan and hatchback. Standard features include body-colored door handles and mirrors and a chrome bumper intake. To dress it up, there are options like 17-inch alloy wheels, black mesh radiator grille, fog lights, and LED taillights.
The cabin is another praiseworthy feature. This stylish yet restrained design will make you feel as though you are in an expensive import. The use of soft touch surfaces and tasteful metallic accents give Rio an edge over others in this segment. The gauges are easy to read and controls are super easy to use without taking your eyes off the road too long. Although this is a subcompact car, you would never know it. Inside there is a tremendous amount of leg and head room in both rows. Plus, the tilt-and-telescoping wheel welcomes even the tallest driver.
Cargo space is abundant in the 2013 Kio Rio. The sedan gives you 13.7 cubic feet of trunk space, but when you put the rear seats down in the hatchback you get 50 cubes. Although impressive, it does not compare to Fit.