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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
even when the pavement gets troublesome, the Rio's suspension absorbs considerable roughness
Kelley Blue Book
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
The 2009 Kia Rio doesn't offer outstanding performance—but it's certainly better than expected.
According to Edmunds, "Every 2009 Kia Rio is powered by a 1.6-liter inline-4 with 110 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque." 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." 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."
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 2009 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. The 2009 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."
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," especially its EPA-rated 35 mpg on the highway when equipped with the four-speed automatic.
"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; 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. Kelley Blue Book finds that "even when the pavement gets troublesome, the Rio's suspension absorbs considerable roughness."
The 2009 Kia Rio is no racer, but its fuel economy, steering, and road manners are all quite good.