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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.
- Good handling and maneuverability
- Smart styling (especially Rio5)
- Basic versatility and utility of Rio5
- Boomy engine noise
- Kludgy manual shifter
- Side-impact ratings
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.