2012 Kia Rio HatchbackEnlarge Photo
The 2012 Kia Rio is entirely new from the ground up, and somehow Kia found a way to shave more than a few dollars off the starting price of its subcompact hatchback. Last year’s Kia Rio5 started at $15,790, which makes the 2012 model’s $14,350 price of admission (including a $750 destination charge) even more impressive.
Kia will offer three trim levels on the Rio for 2012. The base LX model will start at $14,350 for a six-speed manual transmission version, while a six-speed automatic transmission Rio will price from $15,450. Kia hasn’t released pricing details on the mid-level EX, but the sporty SX variant will begin at $18,750.
That buys you a considerable amount of content, including 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamp and tail light accents, projection beam headlamps, a sport tuned suspension, bigger brakes and fog lamps. A new voice-activated infotainment system, powered by Microsoft, debuts on SX models for 2012 and includes a rearview camera display on the system’s 4.3-inch screen.
Outside, the sheetmetal is all new and follows the dramatic design changes pioneered on the 2011 Kia Optima sedan. Bland is out and bold is in, and losing the 2012 Kia Rio in a parking lot will be a lot more difficult than it was with last year’s model.
In addition to dramatically revised styling, the new Kia Rio has been improved in many areas. The new 1.6-liter gasoline direct injection engine will produce a class-leading 138 horsepower, while returning up to 40 mpg fuel economy on the highway. It’s also the first non-hybrid sold in America to offer fuel-saving stop / start ISG technology, which shuts off and automatically restarts the engine when the vehicle is stopped.
All Rio models now come with standard air conditioning, electric power steering, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with USB and auxiliary jacks and SiriusXM satellite radio. The safety features have been ramped up for 2012 as well, and all Rio models now feature electronic stability control, vehicle stability management, four-wheel anti-lock brakes and hill-start assist control.