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2012 Kia Rio: 2011 New York Auto Show

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The 2012 Kia Rio makes its debut today at the 2011 New York Auto Show, in both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback form.

The Rio and Rio5 are part of the wave of 40-mpg cars highlighting this year's show. In both body styles and both drivetrain configurations, the Rio will hit the new magic number for economy--a figure touched on by the Hyundai Elantra, Accent, Veloster and Sonata Hybrid; by the Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze; and by Kia's own Optima Hybrid, which goes on sale at the end this quarter.

Lighter in curb weight than before, the new Rio also has a new powertrain: a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with direct injection and a choice of six-speed transmissions, manual or automatic. The 138-hp four earns an estimated EPA fuel economy rating of 30/40 mpg. Interestingly, the Rio also incorporates stop/start technology, which turns off the engine when the car is stopped for more than a few seconds, to conserve fuel and to contribute to the strong gas-mileage numbers.

Kia claims gains in the Rio's passenger space, thanks to a wheelbase that's grown to 101.2 inches. The hatchback's rear seats fold down for better cargo capacity, too.

The chunky, more muscular Rio arrives late this year in dealers, bundled in three trim levels. The entry-level Rio LX has 15-inch wheels, manual locks and windows, a driver-seat height adjuster, and an AM/FM/CD player with satellite-radio hardware and a USB port. The EX adds power locks, power windows, Bluetooth, split/folding rear seats, and keyless entry, and a rear wiper on Rio5 hatchbacks. The top-line SX gets 17-inch wheels, LED running lights, heated mirrors, leather steering-wheel trim, and on the Rio5, projector headlamps.

The Rio SX also adds on UVO, the Bluetooth-driven entertainment controller that uses voice commands to steer the car's audio and phone controls. The video embedded below gives you an idea of how UVO works in a prototype installation in Kia's Optima sedan.

UVO also features a rearview camera, adding to the Rio's standard safety setup of airbags, anti-lock braking and stability control.

Options will include leather seating; cruise control; UVO; a navigation system, which can't be ordered in UVO-equipped cars; pushbutton start; heated front seats; and a power sunroof.

We'll have more live photos of the Rio later today, and more on the car itself later in the year.


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