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.
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.