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STYLING | 8 out of 10
Unique C-pillar treatments aside, the Kia appears to be the sportier of the two compacts and the most European in execution.
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.
the car unmistakably aspires toward -- and achieves -- a premium European aesthetic.
All things said, it looks like the product of some serious Optima and Sportage canoodling.
Kelley Blue Book
European designers draw European-looking cars, and that's true with the Rio, more so in the five-door hatchback than the four-door sedan. The bland bubbly shapes of the past have dissolved into a wedgy look with lots of body sculpting behind the front wheels, Kia's new signature grille in front (chromed on sedans, blacked-out on hatchbacks) with large trailing headlights and a rounded rear end. The five-door is pert and clean and interesting for the first time in the nameplate's history. And while it's tough to draw sedans on this scale, but the Rio succeeds better than just about any of its competitors.
It's even better inside. The cockpit's nicely finished dash hashes together 1980s econobox chic with airplane-style toggle switches, a medium-to-large LCD screen and a soft-touch panel on most trims for a distinct look with BMW outlines and glory-days Honda finishes.
The Rio's another in a string of well-crafted, interestingly styled Kias.