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2021 Kia Rio

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Expert Rating
2.7 (Fair)

Our expert ratings are based on seven comprehensive criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

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

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

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

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

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

Select a Trim
Select a Trim
2021 LX 4dr Sedan
most popular
Price:   -  From $16,050
2021 S 4dr Sedan Price:   -  From $16,690
2021 S 4dr Hatchback Price:   -  From $16,990


What's New

A mild facelift distinguishes Kia’s 2021 Rio, with new bumpers and grille intakes. As before, the Rio is available as either a subcompact sedan or hatchback. The touchscreen increases to eight inches, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard across the range. There’s also a new Technology package available on S models, combining LED lighting and climate with lane keep assist and pedestrian detection.

Choosing Your Kia Rio

There’s less than $700 between the two trims offered in this subcompact. The basic Rio LX sedan costs $17,045 including destination, with S trim retailing at $17,685 and offering a few specification improvements. The 5-door Rio hatchback is available exclusively in S guise, costing $17,985.

Engine Choices

There’s only one engine in the Rio – a modest 1.6-liter gas engine, generating 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque. This is supplied to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, returning an EPA-estimated 33 miles per gallon city, 41 mpg highway, and 36 combined.

Passenger and Cargo Capacity

Cargo capacity for the five-seater Rio sedan stands at 13.7 cu ft with the rear seats in place, while the 5-door hatchback offers 17.4 cu ft of cargo capacity.

Kia Rio

Safety Features

If safety is a priority, you need to choose S trim and add the optional Technology Pack. This is the only way to equip your Rio with features like lane keep and follow assistance, forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, LED headlights, and high beam assist. As standard, every model receives auto headlights, six airbags, stability management, and hill start assistance, plus brake force distribution.


The 2021 refresh has finally brought the Rio into the present day, with every model receiving an eight-inch touchscreen display with Bluetooth and wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay. The AM/FM radio has six speakers, while sockets include USB and 12V outlets. S models additionally receive USB charging ports and remote keyless entry with trunk opening.

Kia Rio

Rio LX – From $17,045

You wouldn’t expect high-end specifications from a $17,000 subcompact, but the Rio does deliver some basics including power doors and windows, plus power heated mirrors. The cabin has air conditioning and a trip computer, while the driver benefits from Siri Eyes Free, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and automatic lights.

There are no packages available on LX models.

Rio S – From $17,685

An extra $640 adds welcome features including steering-wheel-mounted cruise control plus remote keyless entry with a trunk opener and alarm. There are USB charging ports in the cabin, adjustable rear headrests, and a split-folding rear seat.

The Technology Package represents good value at $1,800, adding over 15 features including alloy wheels, air conditioning, satellite radio, and chrome exterior handles. However, the real improvements come in terms of safety. LED headlights with high beam assist complement lane keep and follow assist, plus a driver attention warning and rear occupant alert.

Compare Rio Trims Side-By-Side

CarsDirect Tip

Although subcompacts are all about value, we’d strongly recommend choosing S trim and adding the Technology Package. It pushes the cost towards $20,000, but the combined benefits of the higher trim and 16 add-ons transform the Rio into a far more appealing day-to-day vehicle.

author image
Automotive Editor
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Expert Review

  • Efficient
  • Roomy hatchback
  • Wireless smartphone connectivity
  • Affordable...
  • ...Yet more expensive than its competition
  • No standard active-safety features
  • Dull styling inside and out
Expert Rating
2.7 (Fair)

Our expert ratings are based on seven comprehensive criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

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

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

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

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

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

author image
Automotive Editor

Anodyne decency. Small cars don't get much more generic than the Kia Rio. It doesn't matter whether you're looking at it, sitting in it, or driving it: Kia's subcompact four- or five-door car is a butler of a machine, all service and no personality. It doesn't let you down but you'll never be reaching for the keys out of sheer pleasure.

Like anything else, it has its core competencies: the Rio is good on gas, easy on the wallet, and comfortable to live with. It just doesn't embellish these qualities. We find this disappointing, but we should note that our predilections skew more towards tire smoke and donuts than comfortable and fuel-efficient. Compared the Nissan Versa, Mitsubishi Mirage, and Hyundai Accent, the Kia Rio is likely exciting enough for most shoppers in this price-conscious segment anyway.

Strong value in a weak market. The Kia Rio - along with its sister car, the mechanically-similar Hyundai Accent - are the two major players in the industry's bargain corner. Others that still have skin in the game include the Chevrolet Spark, Mitsubishi Mirage, and Nissan Versa.

The Kia Rio holds its own against those model, but its price puts it in an awkward spot. The Rio's aforementioned competitors start around $15,000 or so after destination; the Rio kicks things off closer to $17,000. To add a little more perspective, compacts like the Honda Civic begin around $20,000 or so.

On first blush, this makes the Rio look like either a great deal relative to a compact or just an overpriced subcompact. On closer inspection, it becomes the clear the Rio is priced relative to its size and features rather than its dimensions. Kia builds every Rio with power features, 17-inch wheels, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That sort of connectivity is some of the most advanced in the segment.

The Nissan Versa is likely the toughest competitor here. All-new last year, the Versa brings modern amenities and contemporary style to a segment typically unused to such luxuries. It only gets a 7.0-inch touchscreen that requires a cord for smartphone compatibility, but it does come with standard automatic emergency braking and other active-safety goodies. The Rio? You'll need to pay extra for that lifesaving equipment - and it's only available on the pricier trim.

Kia Rio

Space out. The Rio has an ace up its sleeve: a hatchback body style. The Mirage and Spark also continue to offer a hatchback design, but the more pertinent competitors - the related Accent and the recently-redesigned Versa - do not.

Opting for the hatchback makes a significant difference in how practical the Rio can be. As a sedan, the 13.7 cubic feet of cargo space leaves us cold. We should note that this figure is good for the class, but who wouldn't like more room for when their lifestyle demands it? The hatchback gets this. It offers 17.4 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and a total cargo area of nearly 33 cubic feet.

The cargo area of the Rio's hatch handily outdoes the 27 total cubic feet found in the Spark hatchback. The five-door Mirage takes the cake, however: it boasts almost 50 cubic feet of cargo area.

The pecking order is a bit different for sedans, with the Versa coming out on top with a generous 15 cubic feet of trunk space. The Spark's trunk is smallest at just 11 cubic feet. The Rio's trunk splits the difference.

As for legroom, you'll find 33.5 inches worth of it in the Rio's back seat. That's more than the Versa's 31 inches, about the same as the Spark, and less than the Mirage's 34 inches of rear legroom.

Efficient, unexciting. The Rio is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder pushing out a meager 120 horsepower. Is it fast? No. Is it refined? Yes, relative to the price point. This engine won't be making its way into a Mercedes but is more than adequate for a $17,000 car.

Happily enough, refinement is not a concern; only the lack of thrust has us miffed. 120 horsepower isn't much, and neither is 112 lb-ft of torque. Without a turbo, that torque has to be gradually encroached upon. Speed takes time to build and passing maneuvers take time to execute.

A CVT transmission delivers the power to the front wheels. Some CVTs drone, moan, and groan; this is not one of them. We did notice it was a bit more sluggish to react than some competing CVTs, though.

The miserly 33 mpg city, 41 highway, and 36 combined is our favorite characteristic of this powertrain. The Versa isn't quite so good on the highway or during combined driving, and the Spark trails the Rio on all three categories. Only the Mirage is more efficient - but we'd rather pilot the 120-hp Rio than the 74-hp Mirage.

The Rio's ride and handling are fine - and nothing more or less. Bumps are squashed nicely; corners are handled with diplomacy. It's easy to drive because there is nothing in the way of zest or zeal. When people think of A to B transportation, they're thinking of the Rio.

Final thoughts. Let's face it: the writing is on the wall for small cars. Popular choices like the Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit, and Toyota Yaris have all been given the axe recently due to shrinking sales and razor-thin profit margins. What remains of the segment is a small collection of cars that most folk would only consider when they're standing at the rental counter.

And yet for all the ominous foreshadowing the Rio still offers an appealing value for those buyers that appreciate a plain, affordable car. For not a lot of money, the Rio offers the technology shoppers want in an efficient and comfortable package. All that's missing is Kia's suite of standard safety features.

Check prices for the 2021 Kia Rio »

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Specs & Features

Overall Crash Safety Rating
Not Available
Engine - Cylinders/Horsepower/Torque
1.6L I-4 / 120 HP / 112 ft.lbs.
Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) 2-spd CVT w/OD
Drive Type
Fuel Economy - City/Highway/Combined
33 / 41 / 37 Mpg
Passenger Capacity
Bumper to Bumper Warranty
60 Months / 60,000 Miles
Mechanical Specs
Engine - Cylinders/Horsepower/Torque
1.6L I-4 / 120 HP / 112 ft.lbs.
Drive Type
Fuel Economy - City/Hwy/Combined
33 / 41 / 37 Mpg
Front Disc/rear Drum
Front Suspension
Rear Suspension
Semi-independent Torsion Beam Beam
Spare Tire And Wheel
Compact Steel
Fuel Tank
11.9 Gal.
Recommended Fuel Type
Regular Unleaded
Average Cost To Fill Tank
Dimensions & Capabilities
Maximum Cargo Volume
13.7 Cu.ft.
Passenger Volume
90 Cu.ft.
Exterior Length
172.6 "
Exterior Width
67.9 "
Exterior Height
57.1 "
Front Headroom
38.9 "
Rear Headroom
37.4 "
Front Legroom
42.1 "
Rear Legroom
33.5 "
Front Shoulder Room
54.1 "
Rear Shoulder Room
53.3 "
Front Hip Room
Rear Hip Room
Curb Weight
2,767 Lbs.
Wheel Base
102 "
Turning Radius
16.7 '
Exterior Features
Door Count
4 Doors
15.0 " Steel
Clearcoat Monotone / Pearlcoat Monotone
Exterior Mirrors
Dual Power Remote Heated
Body-colored With Black Insert
Grille Moldings
Rear Spoiler
Stainless Steel
Interior Features
Passenger Capacity
Seat Trim
Front Seat Type
Heated Front Seats
Front Driver Seat Direction Controls
Front Passenger Seat Direction Controls
Front Armrests
Rear Armrests
Rear Seats
Radio & Infotainment
Am/fm Stereo, Clock, Seek-scan
Radio Steering Wheel Controls
Apple Car Play
Android Auto
Bluetooth w/ Hands-Free Connectivity
Convenience Features
Steering Wheel Type
Climate Control
Cruise Control
Sun Roof
Rearview Mirror
Day-night / Auto-dimming Day-night
One Touch Open Window
Tinted Windows
Vanity Mirrors
Remote Keyless Entry
Power Outlets
Safety Features
Overall Crash Safety Rating
Not Yet Available
Overall Front Crash Safety Rating
Not Yet Available
Overall Side Crash Safety Rating
Not Yet Available
Rollover Crash Safety Rating
Not Yet Available
Front Impact Airbags
Driver And Passenger
Driver Side Impact Airbags
Seat Mounted
Knee Airbag
Passenger Side Impact Airbag
Seat Mounted
Rear Side Airbag
Seatbelt Pretensioners
Anti-Lock Brakes
4-wheel Anti-lock Brakes (abs)
Forward Collision Warning
Blind Spot Sensor
Lane Departure Warning
Autonomous Cruise Control
Pedestrian Detection
Driver Attention Alert
Daytime Running Lights
Auto High Beams
Adaptive Headlights
Parking Sensors
Security Systems
Panic Alarm
Ignition Disable
Bumper To Bumper Months Miles
60 Months / 60,000 Miles
Major Components Months
120 Months / 100,000 Miles
Included Maintenance Months
Roadside Assistance Months
60 Months / 60,000 Miles
Corrosion Perforation
60 Months / 100,000 Miles
Accessories Months
60 Months / 60,000 Miles

Used 2021 Kia Rio for Sale

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