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  • 2018 Kia Rio EX 5-Door

    Posted on July 20th, 2018 ninarussin

    Subcompact hatchback offers value and versatility for athletes

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Kia Rio

    2018 Kia Rio

    Oh, Kia Rio, how far you have come since we first met at a media introduction eighteen years ago. Back then you were a diminutive little sedan whose main selling point was price: about the same as a used car at that time.

    From those inauspicious beginnings, you have evolved into a real package, combining value with safety and content. While your engine isn’t much bigger than the 1.5-liter block in the 2001 model, you’ve added 36-horsepower and significantly more torque: no more struggling up mountain grades in northern Arizona.

    Average fuel economy has increased by close to ten miles-per-gallon, despite-the-fact that you are bigger, with a six-inch longer wheelbase, and you’ve gained a bit of weight.

    While your rear seats aren’t quite as spacious as the larger Forte, four adults can fit inside without feeling as if they were squeezed into a cracker box. And you are still a great value, costing less than $20,000 out the door.

    Versatile, value-based package.

    2018 Kia Rio

    2018 Kia Rio

    The newest Kia Rio comes in three trim levels, ranging from the base LX priced from $13,900 to the top-of-the line EX, starting at $18,400. The EX test car comes fully loaded with the convenience features its young audience craves, including Bluetooth interface, UVO infotainment, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, USB and auxiliary jacks, air conditioning, power windows, outside mirrors and door locks, keyless entry, and a 60/40 split folding rear seat.

    A 1.6-liter gasoline direct injection engine powers all trim levels, mated to a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions. Carpeted floor mats add $130 to the test car. Final MSRP including the $895 delivery charge is $19,725.

    Test drive in Southern Arizona

    2018 Kia Rio

    2018 Kia Rio

    I’m always especially interested in cars such as the Rio because athletes are particularly sensitive to value. Who wants to spend part of their cycling budget making hefty car payments’ While the Rio is too small to hold a bicycle on the inside, a roof or hitch rack will solve the problem. Thanks to the split folding rear seat, the Rio can easily carry golf bags, skis, snowboards and moderate-size camping equipment.

    The 1.6-liter engine has enough torque for solid acceleration off the line. Granted it’s no barn burner, but the Rio can easily keep up with traffic, including the high-speed variety on roads such as I-10 where cars typically travel 80-85 miles-per-hour.

    Chassis construction is solid, with good torsional rigidity and enough sound-deadening material to isolate the occupants from road, wind and engine noise.

    The six-speed manual gearbox is only available on the base car so most buyers will get the six-speed automatic. It’s a good unit, progressing nicely through the gears with no shift shock during normal driving conditions.

    2018 Kia Rio

    2018 Kia Rio

    The suspension consists of independent MacPherson struts up front and a solid torsion beam rear axle. The torsion beam is compact and sturdy and since most of the subcompact’s weight is over the front axle, it does a respectable job of keeping rear seat occupants comfortable.

    All models ride on 15-inch wheels. That might seem small in an era where large rims and low-profile tires predominate, but the wheels actually-fit the car just fine and are plenty stable at higher speeds. Brakes consist of discs up front and drums in the back. This writer would rather see four-wheel discs because rotors are easier to service and stop more evenly, but it’s not a deal-breaker.

    An electric power steering system delivers plenty of assist at lower speeds. With a turning circle of 33.46 fit, the Rio can fit into virtually any street-side parking spot. On-center response at higher speeds is on the soft side, but drivers shouldn’t feel disconnected from the wheels.

    Visibility around the perimeter is good. The test car comes with a standard rearview camera that makes backing out of parking spots much easier, especially when surrounded by high-profile vehicles.

    Versatile interior

    2018 Kia Rio

    2018 Kia Rio

    While the Rio’s interior is simple, it is by no means Spartan. Designers paid attention to touchpoints and got them right, with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, and attractive cloth upholstery. Lower lumbar support for the driver’s seat isn’t as good as it is on seats with separate adjustments, but it is quite livable.

    I was-able-to adjust the seat high enough for a clear forward view. The air conditioner was-able-to cool down the interior in a reasonable amount of time despite this being the hottest time of year in Southern Arizona. Infotainment controls are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate.

    With second-row seats folded flat there’s plenty of room for the weekly groceries, luggage or the types of gear mentioned earlier in this article.

    Standard safety

    The Rio EX comes with some active safety features one might not expect of a vehicle in its price range, including forward collision warning and autonomous braking. Other standard safety features include six airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, hill start assist and tire pressure monitoring.

    The all-new Rio is rolling into Kia dealerships nationwide.

    Like: A subcompact hatchback loaded with standard safety and convenience features, offering solid performance at an affordable price.

    Dislike: Rear drum brakes.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Kia
    Model: Rio EX 5-Door
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $18,700
    As tested: $19,725
    Horsepower: 130 HP @ 6300 rpm
    Torque: 119 lbs.-ft. @ 4850 rpm
    Zero-to sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 28/37 mpg city/highway

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