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James Flammang
Contributing Editor - July 9, 2015

Expert Rating

4.4 (Excellent)
27 City / 37 Highway

Unlike other websites and magazines, our ratings are not based solely on a singular road test, but rather a more encompassing batch of criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value. When comparing vehicles using our Rating System, it's important to note that the rating earned by each vehicle correlates only to the models within its class. For example, a compact car cannot be compared to a SUV—They are different vehicles altogether.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

5-Star: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.

4-Star: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.

3-Star: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.

2-Star: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.

1-Star: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.

2016 Kia Rio OVERVIEW

Subcompact sedans don’t get much respect, compared to their compact and midsize cousins. Neither do mini-sized hatchbacks, except for the thrift-minded. More substantial than Rios of the past, Kia’s entry-level model still ranks as bargain-priced. In addition to refreshing the entry-level Rio inside and out for 2016, Kia has upgraded its available UVO eServices technology.

What's New for 2016

For 2016, new front and rear fascias provide a wider look and what Kia calls a “sporty attitude.” A revised grille insert contains the geometric pattern seen on other Kia models. New foglamp surrounds have horizontal satin-finish bezels, while rear reflectors have been redesigned and repositioned to far corners. Greater use of high-density foam in A- and B-pillars promises to reduce noise, vibration, and harshness.

Choosing Your Kia Rio

All Kia Rios are front-wheel drive. Each trim level is offered as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback. Except for the lack of a separate trunk, the hatchback differs little from the sedan; but with its back seat folded down, cargo space in the hatchback expands to nearly 50 cubic feet. An available two-tone Designer Package for EX features unique black cloth with leatherette trim and gray stitching.

Kia’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is rated 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. Sedans have a standard six-speed manual transmission (automatic optional for $1,230), but hatchbacks all get the six-speed automatic. There’s no longer a manual gearbox for the Rio five-door. Expect to get about 27 mpg in city driving and 37 or 38 mpg on the highway (31 mpg combined). Automatic is only slightly less thrifty than manual shift, and the Eco package boosts the city estimate by only 1 mpg.

Three trim levels again are offered: LX, EX, and top SX for each body style.


Price-leading sedan and hatchback come with all-disc brakes, air conditioning, electric power steering, six-way manually-adjustable driver’s seat, SiriusXM satellite radio, USB, auxiliary audio jack, steering-wheel audio controls, electronic stability control, and Hill-start Assist. An available LX Power Package adds power windows/locks and keyless entry.


Sedan adds $2,360 to the MSRP of an LX with automatic (hatchback, $2,410). Both body styles have standard automatic transmission, power windows with driver’s one-touch up/down, cruise control, remote keyless entry with trunk release, and tilt/telescope steering column. Appearance and Designer packages are available, and the optional $600 Eco Package now includes updated UVO eServices telematics with an integrated backup camera display.


Sportiest version adds $3,000 to the price. Extras include a sport-tuned suspension with 17-inch alloy wheels, aimed toward a firmer ride. SX versions have 11-inch ventilated front brake discs, steering column-mounted paddle shifters, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Also standard: a rear backup camera, Supervision meter cluster, navigation system with improved graphics and interface, SiriusXM Traffic, pushbutton start, leather seating surfaces with front-seat heaters, and power sunroof.

CarsDirect Tip

Taking the middle ground, an EX promises the best value proposition in this category, though even the LX is fairly well equipped for a subcompact. SX isn't as sporty as Kia suggests, though the added backup camera and navigation could be worth the extra cost.

Get your price on a Kia Rio »

Read our review on the Kia Rio »

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