Kia Rio vs. Kia Forte

By

Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - January 31, 2019

If a compact or subcompact vehicle is what you're looking for, Kia offers a few that are excellent value propositions and are packed with all sorts of features. Available in a sedan and a hatchback body style, the Kia Rio is a subcompact vehicle, while the larger Kia Forte competes in the compact segment. It's a small distinction, but one that creates a large gap between two of the brand's smallest cars. While the two vehicles compete in different segments, one is a better buy for the majority of people.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Rio & Forte »

What the Rio Gets Right

Being the smaller of the two options, the Rio is the more affordable vehicle. Pricing for the 2019 Rio starts at $16,195, while the Forte costs $18,585 (both prices include destination). Purchasing a new car can be incredibly expensive, and being able to save almost $2,400 by going with the Rio is one of the vehicle's strong points.

Another thing the Rio has going for it is its lineup. While the Forte5 hatchback skipped the 2019 model year, the Rio 5-Door is available for those seeking more versatility.

What the Forte Gets Right

Kia came out with an all-new Forte for the 2019 model year, so if you're looking for the newest thing, the Forte is the better option. As the newer model, the Forte has a high-tech powertrain that's more efficient than the Rio's, despite being larger. When properly equipped, the Forte is rated by the EPA to get 31 miles per gallon city, 41 mpg highway, and 35 combined. Fuel economy for the Rio is rated at up to 29/37/32 mpg (city/highway/combined).

If you're looking for a vehicle with a more spacious interior, the larger Forte is the clear choice. The Forte has more front and rear shoulder room, more front and rear leg room, and more front hip room than the Rio. Cargo capacity is also a notch on the Forte's sleeve, as the sedan can hold up to 15.3 cubic feet of cargo. The Rio sedan has 13.7 cubic feet of cargo space.

Unsurprisingly, as the more expensive option, the Forte can be fitted with more upscale features. A sunroof, a smart trunk, auto-leveling LED headlights, 17-inch wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, and a wireless phone charger are all available on the Forte.

Who the Rio is Right For?

Up against the newer, more efficient, and more luxurious Forte, the Rio is outclassed. But the vehicle does have its place in its segment. If you're looking for a small vehicle that's easy to drive in urban areas, gets good fuel economy, is affordable, and has a good list of standard equipment, the Rio is a great option. You just have to be willing to compromise when it comes to space, comfort, and available features.

Our Verdict: Kia Forte

If you can swing the extra $2,400, the Kia Forte is the better option for the majority of consumers over the Kia Rio. It's larger, which makes it more comfortable for daily use, more efficient, loaded with more features (especially semi-luxurious ones), and the better-looking vehicle.

Take a closer look at the Kia Rio »

Take a closer look at the Kia Forte »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter | Website

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