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2015 Kia Rio Photo
7.4
/ 10
TCC Rating
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Reviewed by Bengt Halvorson
Deputy Editor, The Car Connection
BASE INVOICE
$13,645
BASE MSRP
$13,900
Quick Take
The 2015 Kia Rio is at least competitive among small cars if not the class leader, offering attractive design, plenty of features, and decent value. Read more »
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2015 Kia Rio
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Decision Guide
Opinions from around the Web
Styling
Performance
Quality
Safety
Features
Mileage

Unique C-pillar treatments aside, the Kia appears to be the sportier of the two compacts and the most European in execution.

Autoblog »

This is the next big hit for Kia's "design-led transformation" philosophy of product development, which emphasizes dramatic styling to change customer perception. The Rio's front looks sporty and aggressive, while the rear has the look of a stylish European hatchback.

Edmunds »

the car unmistakably aspires toward -- and achieves -- a premium European aesthetic.

Automobile »

All things said, it looks like the product of some serious Optima and Sportage canoodling.

Kelley Blue Book »
Pricing and Specifications by Style
$13,900 $18,240
MSRP $13,900
INVOICE $13,645
Get Price Quote
4-Door Sedan Manual LX
Gas Mileage N/A
Engine Regular Unleaded I-4, 1.6 L
EPA Class Compact Cars
Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity 5
Passenger Doors 4
Body Style 4dr Car
See Detailed Specs »
7.4 out of 10
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Choose a Style Below for Colors and Options
STYLE INVOICE MSRP
2015 Kia Rio 4-Door Sedan Automatic SX
4-Door Sedan Automatic SX
Regular Unleaded I-4, 1.6 L
Front Wheel Drive
$ 17,120 $ 18,040
2015 Kia Rio 4-Door Sedan Manual LX
4-Door Sedan Manual LX
Regular Unleaded I-4, 1.6 L
Front Wheel Drive
$ 13,645 $ 13,900
2015 Kia Rio 4-Door Sedan Automatic LX
4-Door Sedan Automatic LX
Regular Unleaded I-4, 1.6 L
Front Wheel Drive
$ 14,685 $ 15,140
2015 Kia Rio 4-Door Sedan Automatic EX
4-Door Sedan Automatic EX
Regular Unleaded I-4, 1.6 L
Front Wheel Drive
$ 16,173 $ 16,940
More Styles »

The Basics:

The Kia Rio has never been among the top-selling subcompacts, but that now has more to do with its competition than with any of its own flaws or omissions. The latest iteration offers crisp, stylish European design; a cleanly styled, feature-packed interior; and an agreeable, fuel-efficient engine. The Honda Fit has packaging down a little better, and the Mazda 2 is the most fun to drive, but the Kia at least wins on exterior styling.

The Rio is offered in two body styles—a four-door sedan and a five-door hatch. The Rio five-door definitely has more swagger than the sedan, but the sedan isn't homely, which is saying something among subcompacts. Both Rios have tidy dimensions and rakish bodies. The sedan avoids the odd tall trunk look of competitors like the Ford Fiesta, while the hatch has a sportier front end than its sibling. As good as it looks outside, the Rio's interior seems even better: some throwback details look to the best of the 1980s econoboxes, down to the toggle switches for climate controls, but but it's all better in both form and function, with some versions including a big LCD touch screen, and everything receiving a premium look that's only now becoming a consideration in other small cars.

The 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine is the only available engine. It's also the same one that's used in the Hyundai Accent that shares a chassis with the little Kia and here as there it powers the Rio with just enough gusto. It revs smoothly up its powerband and is mostly muted, and you'll find either the six-speed manual or six-speed automatic to be a good way to manage how the power gets to the front wheels. Overall, the Rio stays very composed when driven either gently or at whatever the engine can deliver. It handles remarkably well for a small, inexpensive hatchback with a basic strut and torsion-beam suspension and a short wheelbase, although we would appreciate some more feedback from the steering.

The Rio sports a 101.2-inch wheelbase, has an overall length of about 160 inches, and offers up a cargo area of 15 cubic feet (or 13.7 cubic feet in the trunk, for sedan models). The interior is a little tighter on space than other subcompacts, but pleasing trims and materials and reasonably good cabin refinement keep it more cheerful than the other choices. Good front seats, with relatively long bottom cushions for the class and long seat travel should help bring enough comfort for the commute. The sporty Rio SX models get more seat bolstering--it's mild enough that no one's really going to object to the addition. In back, it's definitely more confining than in the Honda Fit, or even the Versa Note; with the front seats near the back of their travel (for an average-to-taller driver) you won't have any rear knee or foot space in back; and headroom is on the tight side.

The 2015 Rio isn't all cheers when it comes to safety, however. It's middle-of-the-road at best when compared to the crash-test ratings of other models in this class, and the same goes for its level of safety equipment. The Rio receives four stars in federal crash testing, with a caveat on its otherwise good side-impact score, and it does a bit worse in tests run by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The usual dual front, side, and curtain airbags are standard, as are anti-lock brakes and stability control, as well as hill-start assist. A rearview camera is an option--and also recommended, since the five-door Rio has some notable blind spots at the rear pillars.

Even in its base editions, the 2015 Kia Rio offers a lot of features for the money. Base Rio LX sedans and hatchbacks start at around $15,000 and include air conditioning, a USB port, and satellite radio. On hatchbacks you also get 15-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, tilt steering, steering-wheel audio controls, and split-folding rear seatbacks. Features included in the sporty Rio SX versions include 17-inch wheels, sport suspension tuning, larger front brakes, fog lamps, power-folding heated side mirrors, and LED taillamp and headlamp accents; options on the SX include a navigation system (that replaces the UVO system), pushbutton start, leather seats, heated front seats, and a sunroof.

The Rio returns decent fuel economy, with both the manual and automatic rated by the EPA at 27 mpg in the city and 37 on the highway. If you add the optional Eco pack, it raises the city fuel economy by one mpg but leaves the highway figure alone. The Eco model adds an engine stop-start function, which has little effect on the EPA's city cycle but likely would improve real-world fuel economy noticeably, especially for those who sit in traffic often. 

Likes:

  • Sharp, Euro-styled exterior
  • On-point cabin
  • Smooth drivetrain
  • Features for the money

Dislikes:

  • Tight cabin
  • Small back seat
  • Adequate, but not quick
  • Steering feel, or lack thereof
Next: Interior / Exterior »

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