2006 Kia Rio Review

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2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director

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Small cars are suddenly in again, as surely as $3 gas is newly unappetizing to folks stuck in four-year notes on full-size trucks and SUVs. And it’s not just smart compact cars like the MINI that make sense in the era of $65-a-barrel oil. At those prices, the virtues of quieter efforts like the 38-mpg Kia Rio ring true and clear too.

 

Even before prices stepped into the stratosphere, Kia says, the compact-car market was heading for bigger things. Some two million small cars are sold annually in the States, and big brands like Honda and Nissan are set to get back into the pool, with new entries slotting beneath the Civic and Sentra. Throw in a sub-Focus Ford and the inexpensive Chevy Aveo and Cobalt and Scion fleet and it’s a growing group not obsessed with size as much as it is fuel economy, equipment, and most importantly, price.

 

All of these factors, Kia execs told us as we squirted around urban and suburban roads around Seattle, are reason to expect bigger things from the bigger new Rio sedan and the vaguely Renault-looking Rio5 hatchback. For 2006, both Rios gain more space from a longer wheelbase and wider track, a better ride, and more horsepower from their gas-sipping four.

 

Catching no buzz

 

2006 Kia Rio5

2006 Kia Rio5

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Both Rios use the same 1.6-liter four with variable valve timing, 110 horsepower, and 107 pound-feet of torque to execute their civic-minded duties. Even connoisseurs will like this smooth powerplant. Size works to its advantage; it’s not buzzy at all like larger four-cylinders can be, and with the lean weights of either model, power is ample enough for passing in the middle gears. The biggest smiles, however, will come from its 38-mpg highway economy rating and its nearly 450-mile driving range – longer than Tiger Woods, longer than a Toyota Prius, and short of a Jetta Diesel, among the best in the eco-car class. A four-speed automatic with decently staged gears and good response actually gets better gas mileage than the shiftier five-speed manual gearbox.

 

The typical four-cylinder rasp is absent, and so is the typical rental-car ride and handling of the smallest cars. The Rio ’s suspension layout is simple, straightforward MacPherson struts in front and a torsion-beam rear axle, with front and rear anti-roll bars. So outfitted, the Rio and Rio5 feel a bit like a BMW 3-Series after a gastric bypass, with light feedback in the steering (at least in the power-steering cars we sampled) and a pleasant responsiveness that will catch former SUV drivers totally off guard. Now, it’s difficult to make a car this compact swallow bumps in the road, but the Rio manages most road rash with civility.

 

It’s when trying to stuff it to the four-adult maximum that the Rio betrays its caste. With the driver seat back in a proper position, the back seat is almost devoid of legroom. Room for a child car seat? Yes. A Piston, Hawk, or Nugget? Not likely. The trunk is 30 percent larger than before, though, and maybe that’s the way to mass transportation with willing friends.

 

To its greater defense, the Rio’s interior is softly styled, with a dash-colored faceplate on the radio and a sculptured dash covered in light, open-grained plastic.

 

2006 Kia Rio5

2006 Kia Rio5

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Of all the Rios, our most favorite was the rounded-off Rio5. Offered in SX trim, it gets 15-inch wheels, a small spoiler, some metallic trim and fog lights for a mere $13,500. Available with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, it looks the least like it’s searching for a parking spot at T.J. Maxx and acquits itself as nicely on scenic two-lanes as it does through urban chores.

 

The Rio’s defining feature may be the package of safety gear Kia stitches into each one. There are six standard airbags, including full-length side-curtain airbags, making it the least expensive vehicle you can buy with so many crash cushions. The base car is pretty stark, but LX four-doors and the SX five-door can be outfitted with the automatic transmission, power steering, anti-lock brakes with rear discs, and a power package.

 

At $11,110 for the base Rio — or even $12,985 for the LX or even $14,040 for the five-door SX — cars like these should be on the shopping lists for more househusbands, students, and interstate-less townies. It’s a four-wheeled Vespa compared to the HUMMER H2s that ply most soccer fields and Target parking lots. And more and more, it’s a logical alternative to an empty wallet.

 

 

2006 Kia Rio/Rio5
Base price:
$10,570 (base); $12,445 (LX); $13,500 (Rio5)
Engine: 1.6-liter in-line four, 110 hp/107 lb-ft
Transmission: Five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Length x width x height: 166.9 x 66.7 x 57.9 inches (Rio5: 158.1 in long)
Wheelbase: 98.4 inches
Curb weight: 2365-2487 lb
Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): 32/35 mpg (manual); 29/38 mpg (auto)
Safety equipment: Dual front airbags, side and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes optional
Major standard equipment: Eight-way driver seat; rear defroster; intermittent wipers (LX adds air conditioning; AM/FM/CD; power steering; tilt steering)

Warranty: Five years/60,000 miles

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March 6, 2017
2016 Kia Rio 4-Door Sedan Automatic EX

Would love it if I could depend on the key turning!!!

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I keep having trouble getting the key to turn to start the engine! Any others having this problem? For me this car sucks, because I never know if it will start and it is a brand new car!!!
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February 13, 2016
For 2016 Kia Rio

Get the right options and model and this car is a standout.

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My 2012 Rio SX is everything I need, sporty with 17" wheels, navigation, heated leather seats and nearly 40 mpg. Equipping this car right turns it from an econobox to a small but extraordinarily roomy road... + More »
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January 27, 2016
2016 Kia Rio 4-Door Sedan Manual LX

Very happy with the car!

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I've had my 2015 Rio LX+ with the 6-speed manual and have driven it more than 20k Km. I really enjoy driving it. I'm very happy with it's overall performance which I consider FUN. Wish the passenger seat is... + More »
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December 26, 2015
2016 Kia Rio 4-Door Sedan Manual LX

no air conditioning .. no arm rest.. no blue tooth

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I have power windows.. power door locks.. electric and heated side mirrors ...anti patinage... am fm cd mp3 sirus radio.. radio controls on steering wheel ..4 disc brake.. abs.. electric steering wheel .. 2... + More »
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August 14, 2015
2016 Kia Rio 5-Door HB Automatic LX

awesome and stylish vechile

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I love my kia Rio 2016 pricing is great, sporty looking, excellent ride, love the size of the car, easy to park anywhere.
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March 18, 2015
For 2015 Kia Rio

Nice Looking Car

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Nice car.Has sporty looks. But dissapointing when you enter the rear seats. leg space is very low and rear seats are cramped as well.
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March 10, 2015
For 2015 Kia Rio

Performs much better than I expected.

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I always preferred subcompact cars for obvious reasons. I live in a countryside and a small car is the more sensible and more economical way to get to work or simply get around. I'm too busy and don't really... + More »
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July 29, 2016
2014 Kia Rio 5-Door HB Automatic EX

completely underated

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This car is do underated, for the price you get a lot of car.in taking off it lacks but once you off this 4 cly engine really punches through the road and on a straight road it'll creep up a Chrysler 300 .but... + More »
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January 31, 2016
2014 Kia Rio 4-Door Sedan Automatic LX

amazing car for your money

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In my opinion this is a pretty great car just needs louder speakers , its a nice smooth fun ride and the brakes are amazing 0-60 like 8-10 seconds pretty quick for a 4 cylinder.
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April 14, 2015
For 2014 Kia Rio

Perfect Compact Sedan

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I am driving a RIO 2014...and I initially fell in love with the great shape and design changes introduced. Got the basic standard AT model 4-speed. I drive at a daily average of 100km on highways...and the car... + More »
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