Can Offer Strong Value. Cheap, simple transportation has disappeared from the market with the rise of SUVs. Luckily, vehicles like the 2022 Kia Rio still exist, though one can only imagine how long they will continue to be on sale. Still, the Rio signifies an affordable way to get around and can be a strong value option in the right trim.

While the Rio is priced more than its competitors with a starting price tag of $17,145 with destination, it comes with more standard features. The subcompact comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, a USB port, and six audio speakers. The Rio’s infotainment screen is one of the largest in the class and seeing wireless smartphone compatibility in the segment is a rarity.

Out of the Rio’s small lineup, we think the range-topping S is the best trim. It adds a few more convenience features including keyless entry, cruise control, more USB ports, and split-folding rear seats. The S trim is also the only trim in the lineup to be offered with advanced safety features, but more on that later.

Spacious Hatchback Body. There was a time when all subcompact vehicles were available in both sedan and hatchback body styles. Now, the Rio is one of the few cars in the segment that’s still offered in two body styles.

The Rio sedan offers a small cargo area with just 13.7 cubic feet of cargo space. While that’s a good amount of cargo space for the class, it’s a small amount for people that want to carry anything beyond a few bags of groceries. For extra space, we highly recommend the Rio hatchback. It’s $940 more than the sedan, but brings 17.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a total of 32.8 cubic feet of cargo space. This is far more usable space that makes the subcompact vehicle more versatile.

Because of the Rio’s size, the cabin isn’t very spacious for adults. There’s plenty of room in the front seats, but the rear seats are tight. This isn’t a dig on the Rio, as every other subcompact has tight seats, too. In both body styles, the Rio offers up to 33.5 inches of rear legroom, which is enough for adults on a short trip.

Sips Fuel. With a standard 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 120 horsepower, the Rio won’t blow you away with its peppy performance, but it is remarkably efficient. Thanks to a standard CVT, the Rio can get up to 36 mpg combined. These are some of the best fuel economy figures in the subcompact class.

The powertrain does a fine job of getting the Rio around town, but steep hills and overtaking on the highway can be stressful for the driver. The subcompact car does a good job of handling bumps and displays little body roll around corners. Despite being an affordable mode of transportation, the Rio offers spunky handling that’s more enjoyable than its competitors.

Where Are The Safety Features? Subcompact cars are built to fit within a tight budget. We can understand that, but we still expect more from the Rio. The only standard safety feature you’ll find on the Rio is a rearview camera. Beyond that, everything is optional and it’s only available on the range-topping S trim.

The S trim is available with an optional Technology Package that’s priced at $1,800. The package adds forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, and a driver drowsiness monitor. Most of these features are standard on the Nissan Versa, which is the Rio’s most obvious competitor.

The lack of standard safety features and the Rio’s small list of optional safety features is the subcompact’s largest weakness. Things like blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross-traffic alert aren’t available. That’s a big oversight on Kia’s part and essentially requires drivers to get a fully-loaded Rio if they want to get a few advanced safety features.

Final Thoughts. There aren’t many cheap cars left on sale today, making the 2022 Kia Rio one of the few of its kind. With good fuel economy figures, an intuitive infotainment system, and agile handling, there’s a lot to like with the Rio. Unfortunately, if you’re searching for a spacious subcompact that’s packed with safety features, you’ll want to check out some of the other options.

In terms of competition, the Nissan Versa is only available as a sedan, but it features a large trunk, a relaxed ride, and an extensive list of advanced safety features. It also has a more powerful engine than the Rio and is offered with a manual transmission. The Chevrolet Spark offers a smaller cabin than the Rio and has worse interior materials, but is available with a manual transmission and has agile handling. It’s also far more affordable than the Rio.

Check prices for the 2022 Kia Rio