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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
it's relatively smooth and cruises quietly once up to freeway speeds
Adding a few horsepower can make quite a difference in a small sedan
one of those rare cases where the automatic gets better fuel mileage than the manual
Car and Driver
Performance is improved but is no more than adequate with the mannerly automatic transmission
Kelley Blue Book
Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com agree that the 2008 Kia Rio’s performance, though still slow, is better than expected.
Cars.com is more pleased with the performance of this year's Kia Rio, saying, "Adding a few horsepower can make quite a difference in a small sedan." According to Edmunds, "Every 2008 Kia Rio is powered by a 1.6-liter inline-4 with 110 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque." Kelley Blue Book concurs: "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." But Car and Driver complains that it takes the 2008 Kia Rio "11.5 seconds to run to 60 mph, which certainly doesn't win any awards."
The 2008 Kia Rio's manual transmission is an appealing choice for those wanting a sporty vehicle, and Edmunds says, "As expected, the manual transmission makes the Rio more sprightly and fun to drive," noting that "a five-speed manual transmission is standard across the board, while a four-speed automatic is optional on all but the base sedan." Cars.com finds that the redesigned Kia Rio shows improvement over "its original performance, even with automatic transmission." The Rio Kia's automatic does provide swift, well-timed shifts; according to Cars.com, the automatic transmission in the 2008 Kia Rio works smoothly "without any lurching or noticeable gear changes," but Edmunds rates the automatic transmission as "slightly below standard" when it comes to acceleration.
Car and Driver says that, surprisingly, the "automatic transmission of the Rio Kia 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," especially its EPA-rated 35 mpg on the highway when equipped with the four-speed automatic.
The Rio Kia LX and SX come equipped with front disc/rear drums; in addition, "4 wheel disc brakes" and "4 wheel ABS brakes" are available options on both models, according to Cars.com. Both models have rack-and-pinion, speed-sensitive steering. "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." Kelley Blue Book, on the other hand, finds that "even when the pavement gets troublesome, the Rio's suspension absorbs considerable roughness."
The 2008 Kia Rio has great fuel economy, good steering, and decent road manners; acceleration is slow.