2010 Kia Rio Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
December 10, 2009

The 2010 Kia Rio has a little more personality than some other inexpensive small cars, but low safety scores and a lack of refinement hamper its appeal.

The editors of TheCarConnection.com have driven the Kia Rio and bring you their firsthand driving impressions and shopping advice here in this Bottom Line, along with highlights from some of the Web's best review sources in an adjacent Full Review.

As the smallest and most affordable model from Kia, the 2010 Kia Rio comes either as a sedan (Rio) or a five-door hatchback (Rio5). The Rio is closely related to the 2010 Hyundai Accent, though the Accent is offered in a sedan or two-door hatchback, with no five-door in the lineup.

For 2010, the Rio gets a minor facelift that consists of new bumpers, a slightly revised grille and headlamps, plus new bodyside moldings. The Kia Rio no longer looks fresh, as it's had essentially the same interior and exterior design since the 2006 model year. Still, the proportions are pert and simple, with lipped wheel wells and an arched theme that plays out especially nicely in the roofline and rear pillars of the Rio5. The interior design isn't daring; it's basic but straightforward, with the sound-system controls and most other switchgear up high and within easy reach.

A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, making 110 horsepower, is standard across the entire model line. That doesn't sound like much, but because it's such a light car, it feels relatively sprightly, especially with the five-speed manual gearbox (although the linkage can feel imprecise). A four-speed automatic is also available. Other aspects of the driving experience are quite delightful, considering the price. The Rio handles reasonably well, brakes seem strong, and there's enough peppiness for most driving, aside from high-speed passes. Fuel economy figures are good but not stellar—ranging up to 27 mpg city, 32 highway with the five-speed, 25/35 mpg with the automatic. All automatic models now come with an EcoMinder light to help you drive in a fuel-efficient manner.

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The interior of the 2010 Kia Rio is fairly comfortable, but if there are four adults on board, it's best to keep your trips rather short. In front the seats are quite good, and there's even good rear headroom and legroom in back. Trunk space is actually impressive, too, and in the Rio5, a fairly large cargo area tucks beneath the hatchback. The downside is that their ride can be somewhat pitchy on certain types of freeway surfaces, and Rio SX models have different tire and suspension settings, aimed at producing a sportier feel, that bring more road noise into the cabin. Across the model line, engine noise can be an issue; it's obtrusive during acceleration and when cruising at higher speeds.

Crash-test scores for the 2010 Kia Rio and Rio5 are far from great. The Rio gets four- and five-star ratings for frontal crash protection, but side-impact ratings lag at just three stars for passenger side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also doesn't find the Rio to be very protective, with a frontal offset score of "acceptable" and a side-impact result of "poor"—which should be a cause for concern. There are six airbags, including side, curtain, and dual front airbags. Active front headrests and anti-lock brakes are newly standard on all Rio and Rio5 models for 2010.

The base model Rio doesn't come with much; manual winding windows, no air conditioning, and no tilt steering (no power steering at that) are all part of the deal. Step up to the LX and you'll get what most people now consider the minimum, with A/C, tilt steering, power steering, and split-folding rear seats, and you'll set the stage for Power Package that includes power locks, mirrors, and windows; keyless entry; and heated mirrors. A sportier suspension, alloy wheels, fog lamps, and a spoiler are all included with the SX, plus sport seats, leather trim, and Sirius Satellite Radio. LX and SX models have a USB audio port, and for the first time, a Bluetooth hands-free calling interface will be offered on the Rio late in the model year as an option.

7

2010 Kia Rio

Styling

The styling of the 2010 Kia Rio doesn’t look particularly fresh or trend-setting, but it’s among the better-looking subcompacts.

Although the Kia Rio was last completely redesigned for 2006, for 2010 it receives a light restyle that consists of new bumpers, a slightly revised grille and headlamps, plus new bodyside moldings. The Kia Rio no longer looks fresh, but with simple, pert proportions and no of-the-moment styling cues, the design still plays well.

Two body styles of the 2010 Kia Rio are offered: a four-door sedan (Rio) and a five-door hatchback (Rio5). Kelley Blue Book thinks it's "quite the looker," and J.D. Power says the Kia's "European-influenced appearance imparts a sporty and youthful character into an entry-level automobile." Cars.com touts the exterior features that give both Rios a decent amount of pizzazz: a black mesh grille, "swept-back" headlights, bumpers with black inserts, and black body-side moldings.

The simple and straightforward design approach carries over inside. The Rio has a "higher quality feel both inside and out," says Kelley Blue Book, compared to previous models. Cars.com takes note of the "chrome dashboard accents" of the Rio SX, while according to Edmunds, the cabin of the 2010 Kia Rio, especially in beige, has an "airy feel that is unusual for a car in this price range."

6

2010 Kia Rio

Performance

The 2010 Kia Rio steers and handles surprisingly well, and it's peppy, though not fast.

Looking at the very meager performance specifications of the 2010 Kia Rio, it’s easy to go in with low expectations. In the experience of TheCarConnection.com—and verified by other reviewers’ comments—they’re likely to be exceeded.

Standard across the entire model line is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, making 110 horsepower. That’s not much—because it's such a light car, it feels relatively sprightly. Unfortunately, Car and Driver complains that it takes the 2009 Kia Rio "11.5 seconds to run to 60 mph, which certainly doesn't win any awards." Kelley Blue Book mentions that "Kia has raised the power of its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which drives either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission." Edmunds clarifies that on all models but the base sedan the automatic is optional. Cars.com is more than pleased with the performance of this year's Kia Rio, saying, "Adding a few horsepower can make quite a difference in a small sedan."

A five-speed manual gearbox is standard, with a four-speed automatic optional. Edmunds rates the automatic transmission as "slightly below standard" when it comes to acceleration. The Rio Kia's automatic does provide swift, well-timed shifts; according to Cars.com, the automatic transmission in the 2009 Kia Rio works smoothly "without any lurching or noticeable gear changes." For those wanting a sportier feel, Edmunds says that “the manual transmission makes the Rio more sprightly and fun to drive."

Fuel economy figures are good but not stellar—ranging up to 27 mpg city, 32 highway with the five-speed, 25/35 mpg with the automatic. All automatic models now come with an EcoMinder light to help drive in a fuel-efficient manner. Car and Driver says that, surprisingly, the automatic transmission "gets better fuel mileage than the manual, in this case 3 more mpg, for a highway figure of 35," according to EPA city/highway estimates. Kelley Blue Book agrees, stating, "Fuel economy is excellent."

Other aspects of the driving experience are quite delightful, considering the price. The Rio handles reasonably well, brakes seem strong, and there's enough peppiness for most driving, aside from high-speed passes. "Steering is light in the Kia Rio," but "the Rio is delightfully nimble in urban environments, tracks adeptly on straightaways and is easy to guide into turns," in Kelley Blue Book's opinion. Edmunds adds that when "pushed through corners, the Rio responds with predictable body roll and unexpectedly crisp steering"; however, they also state "the suspension isn't as composed over broken pavement as we'd like," saying that "large impacts tend to shudder through the cabin." The Rio Kia LX and SX come equipped with front disc/rear drums, but Cars.com notes that "4 wheel disc brakes" and "4 wheel ABS brakes" are available options on both models.

7

2010 Kia Rio

Comfort & Quality

Although the engine is a little loud and unsophisticated when worked and cabin materials are a little skimpy, the 2010 Kia Rio is impressive for such an inexpensive car.

The interior of the 2010 Kia Rio is fairly comfortable, but if there are four adults on board, it's best to keep your trips rather short. In front the seats are quite good, and there's even impressive rear headroom and legroom in back. Edmunds confirms that "seat comfort is very good for most body types, though drivers north of 6 feet tall may get fidgety after more than an hour behind the wheel."

In the rear, "the back seat headroom is a bit tight for 6-footers," though legroom is "fully adequate and the tall bench provides good thigh support," according to Edmunds. Kelley Blue Book concurs, saying that the "front seats are roomy and comfortable in the Kia Rio, but the rear seat is hard and reclines excessively." "Legroom even in the outer positions is marginal when the front seat is moved appreciably rearward," says Cars.com, adding that "the hard rear seatback is reclined too far for true comfort.” In the case of either model, Kelley Blue Book warns that the center position in back isn’t tremendously useful as "the center occupant straddles a tunnel."

Trunk space is impressive, too, and in the Rio5, a fairly large cargo area tucks beneath the hatchback. According to Cars.com, "Increased exterior dimensions translate to more interior capacity in the five-passenger Rio,” most of it in the cargo area. ConsumerGuide points out the rear seat doesn't lie flat; instead, "it rests above the level of trunk floor, and the opening is cramped." Kelley Blue Book notes that the backseat release "is awkwardly placed toward the center of the seats," and the "trunklid hinges dip into the load area." And looking back toward the storage provided in the passenger cabin, while a fold-down armrest is standard for the driver in the 2010 Kia Rio, Edmunds would "prefer a more traditional center console box that provides this feature for both front occupants along with handy storage space."

The 2010 Kia Rio sees mixed reviews in looking at the appearance and feel of cabin materials. According to ConsumerGuide, "most cabin surfaces are hard plastic, and padded surfaces are pretty much out of the question." The reviewer admits, however, that "Rio equals some costlier cars for materials and assembly quality." Edmunds points to “some cheap plastic trim,” and thinks that the quality of materials “is generally above average, though some trim isn't up to Honda levels."

The downside is that their ride can be somewhat pitchy on certain types of freeway surfaces, and Rio SX models have different tire and suspension settings, aimed at producing a sportier feel, that also bring more road noise into the cabin. Across the model line, engine noise can be an issue; it's obtrusive during acceleration and when cruising at higher speeds. Edmunds is the only source to deem it tolerable, reporting that "at 75 mph, the cabin is hushed." Car and Driver gripes that the four-speed automatic produces "a grinding sound at highway speeds, not our soundtrack of choice to accompany five-hour journeys.” But Kelley Blue Book explains that while "the engine gets seriously buzzy when accelerating, it quiets nicely at speed." Cars.com says the engine “emits considerable buzz and blare when pushed hard." Road noise appears to be nicely isolated, with Edmunds reporting that "at 75 mph, the cabin is hushed."

5

2010 Kia Rio

Safety

Because of lackluster crash-test scores, combined with the lack of key safety features on some trims, you'll want to think twice about the 2010 Kia Rio if safety is a priority.

Safety is perhaps the single weakest aspect for 2010 Kia Rio—even when you weigh it against other small-car competitors in its price range.

Crash-test scores for the 2010 Kia Rio and Rio5 are far from great. The Rio gets four- and five-star ratings for frontal crash protection, but side-impact ratings lag at just three stars for passenger side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also doesn't find the Rio to be very protective, with frontal offset score of "acceptable" and a side-impact result of "poor"—which should be a cause for concern.

In terms of safety features, the Rio is a mixed bag. It has six airbags, including side, curtain, and dual front airbags. Active front headrests and anti-lock brakes are newly standard on all Rio and Rio5 models for 2010. But anti-lock brakes aren't included (or even optional) on the base model, and electronic stability control isn't offered at all on the Rio or Rio5.

Outward visibility is quite good, thanks to the relatively low beltline. Cars.com states, "Visibility is unobstructed." Kelley Blue Book likes how the "low cowl and sizable rear glass help create nearly unobstructed visibility."

7

2010 Kia Rio

Features

The 2010 Kia Rio and Rio5 offer a respectable list of features, if you're willing to step up to the LX or EX models; base models keep it very simple.

In its higher trims, the 2010 Kia Rio and Rio5 come well-equipped, but don't expect a lot in the base-model Rio.

The bargain-priced base model of the 2010 Rio comes with manual winding windows; no air conditioning and no tilt steering (no power steering at that) are part of the deal. On the base Rio, "standard equipment includes an eight-way manually adjustable driver's seat, variable intermittent wipers and a rear-window defroster," notes Car and Driver. Edmunds complains that "cruise control isn't available" in the base model, and ConsumerGuide reports such comfort and convenience features in the base model as "cloth upholstery, front bucket seats w/height-adjustable driver seat, center console, tachometer, rear defogger, variable-intermittent wipers, automatic-off headlights"—in other words, the basics.

Step up to the LX and you'll get what most people now consider the minimum, with A/C, tilt steering, power steering, and split-folding rear seats, and you'll set the stage for Power Package that includes power locks, mirrors, and windows; keyless entry; and heated mirrors. A sportier suspension, alloy wheels, fog lamps, and a spoiler are all included with the SX, plus sport seats, leather trim, and Sirius Satellite Radio. LX and SX models have a USB audio port, and for the first time, a Bluetooth hands-free calling interface will be offered as an option on the Rio late in the model year.

The SX comes equipped with "Fog/driving lights," which are not an option on the LX, according to Cars.com.

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July 6, 2015
2010 Kia Rio 4-Door Sedan Automatic LX

rio..it drives like a a true rio bird

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compactable and luxury car sweet sound also affordable n also good for family use ..and also in sports version looks
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