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.
2018 Kia Rio OVERVIEW
When the Kia Rio first hit the US market at the turn of the century, it was the least expensive new car available, and it felt like it. The early Rios had a reputation for poor build quality, were sparsely equipped, and were the definition of basic transportation. Fast-forward to 2018, and Kia might as well be an entirely different company. The all-new 2018 Rio sedan and five-door hatchback are still quite inexpensive, but they both punch far above their price in terms of driving dynamics, design, and quality, setting an entirely new benchmark for cheap cars in the US.
What's New for 2018
The Kia Rio is a completely new model for 2018.
Choosing Your Kia Rio
The 2018 Kia Rio can be had as either a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback for a $300 premium. Both options have three trim levels: LX, S or EX. Regardless of configuration, the Rio is powered by an enhanced version of the 1.6-liter four cylinder from the last generation, giving the car a slightly improved fuel economy at 29 city, 37 highway, and 32 combined for cars equipped with the manual transmission (the automatic has a one mpg penalty in the city). Unfortunately, the push for fuel economy has slightly decreased engine power to 130 horsepower and 119 pound-feet of torque from the previous generation. That being said, the Rio’s output is still plenty for a car that weighs less than 3,000 pounds.
Both the sedan and the hatchback have a new interior that feels surprisingly upscale, even if standard features are sparse at lower trims. Kia has also made the Rio ride and handle better with a new suspension set up and a stiffer chassis, which helps greatly on longer trips.
If you require a manual transmission, the best value seems to be in the Rio S. It’s only $1,110 more than an automatic-equipped LX, and you get much more in the way of creature comforts at a low price. The EX is a good value if you prioritize having autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning, or want the capability of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, but the price puts it in range of other small cars that can offer an all-around better experience, most notably the larger Honda Civic.