Kia Rio

#3 in Subcompact Cars Overall Score: 8.2 / 10
2016 Kia Rio View More Photos » Kia Motors America
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2016 Kia Rio Overview

The 2016 Kia Rio ranks 3 out of 16 Subcompact Cars.

The 2016 Kia Rio offers what few subcompact cars can – a strong base engine that delivers swift acceleration in the city and on the highway, according to the research and data that drive our reviews ...

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Pros & Cons

  • Quick acceleration
  • Lively handling
  • Spacious interior
  • Good predicted reliability
  • Stiff suspension
  • Rivals offer more high-tech features
  • Marginal crash test scores

Notable for 2016

  • Six-speed automatic transmission now standard

Kia Rio Rankings and Research

The 2016 Kia Rio ranking is based on its score within the Subcompact Cars category. Currently the Kia Rio has a score of 8.2 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 46 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.


Overall: 8.2
Critics' Rating: 8.5
Performance: 7.7
Interior: 8.4
Safety: 8.5
Reliability: 3_5


2016 Kia Rio Pictures

2016 Kia Rio Review

By Courtney Jones July 22, 2016

The 2016 Kia Rio offers what few subcompact cars can – a strong base engine that delivers swift acceleration in the city and on the highway, according to the research and data that drive our reviews. Fairly agile handling and responsive steering complement the engine, but the Rio’s ride quality is a bit harsh. By comparison, competitors like the Ford Focus have the best of both worlds: sporty driving dynamics and ride comfort.

The Kia Rio's cabin has attractive styling and quality materials. It also offers a straightforward available infotainment system, an excellent optional navigation system, and a clean dashboard layout with large buttons for at-a-glance audio and climate adjustments. Still, some rivals offer more in the way of technology. For example, the Rio offers a rearview camera, but other cars in the class can be equipped with driver assistance features that the Rio doesn’t offer, like blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning. When it comes to storage, the Rio hatchback has one of the largest cargo capacities you can get in a subcompact car.

In addition to its lengthy warranty, the Rio's predicted reliability score is one of the highest in the class, so you can expect it to last and require limited maintenance. Safety-wise, however, the Rio's scores are below average for the class.

Rio Performance

Highway-Ready Base Engine – A Class Anomaly

The Kia Rio gets its power from a 138-horsepower four-cylinder engine that produces faster acceleration than what you get in most subcompacts, though the engine noise climbs with the speedometer. Both the Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris, for example, feel labored on the highway and when climbing hills. The Mini Cooper Clubman has a strong base engine, but it’s also considerably more expensive than the Rio. The standard six-speed automatic transmission is a good match for the engine.

With its sport-tuned suspension and quick steering, the 2016 Kia Rio delivers agile handling around a turn. However, the Rio has a harsh ride, particularly on SX models, which have a stiffer suspension and larger wheels. Rivals like the Ford Focus offer a more engaging driving experience while maintaining ride comfort.

Below-Average Fuel Economy

According to the EPA, the Rio gets up to 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Those estimates are a bit low for a subcompact car. Apart from hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Honda CR-Z, the Scion iA leads the class in fuel economy at 31 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway. The Chevrolet Spark and Honda Fit's estimates are close behind. 

Read more about performance »

Rio Interior

Quality Interior with Straightforward Features

For its price, the Rio's interior is impressive, offering quality materials and attractive styling similar to what more expensive subcompacts have. Its uncluttered dashboard features large buttons that are easy to see and access, and the available UVO infotainment system is straightforward. If you add navigation, you’ll get one of the best factory-installed units in the class. 

Room to Stretch

The Rio has cloth upholstery and seating for five. Leather upholstery and heated front seats are available, as is a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel – a rare option for a subcompact car. The Rio's seats are spacious, offering plenty of head- and legroom in the front. The front seats also offer a good amount of bolstering and remain comfortable during long trips. In back, legroom can be a bit snug for taller passengers, especially if the front-seat passengers feel the need to slide their seats far back.

While subcompacts are probably the last car class you think of for spaciousness, several – such as the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa and Chevrolet Sonic – offer roomy seats in both rows.

Average-Size Sedan Trunk, Cavernous Hatchback Space

The Rio sedan has 13.7 cubic feet of trunk space, which is average for a subcompact car. Subcompact sedan rivals like the Chevrolet Sonic and Nissan Versa offer about a foot more trunk space. The Rio's 60/40 split seats fold flat to expand usable storage space and to make loading cargo easy.

The Rio hatchback has a cargo capacity of 15 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 49.8 cubic feet with the rear seat folded. That's significantly more cargo space than most hatchbacks have. Only the Honda Fit has more, with 52.7 cubic feet.

Read more about interior »

Rio Pricing, Specs, and Trims

The Kia Rio LX starts at $14,165 and comes with a four-speaker audio system, satellite radio, a USB port, an auxiliary audio input jack, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. That's a decent amount of features for the class, but several rivals including the Chevrolet Sonic, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, and Honda Fit come with Bluetooth phone connectivity, while it's optional in upper Rio trims. More than half of the cars in the class don't come standard with power windows or power door locks, and the Rio is among them. The Chevrolet Spark, however, costs less than the Rio LX and comes standard with both. 

For $17,755, the Rio EX gets you remote keyless entry, power windows, power door locks, a six-speaker stereo, and Bluetooth phone connectivity. A $600 ECO package adds a UVO infotainment system, a rearview camera, and an engine start/stop system that helps conserve fuel. For $750, you get those features, as well as leather seating trim and a 4.3-inch color touch-screen audio display.

The Kia Rio SX, the top trim, is priced at $20,755 and adds a sport-tuned suspension, push-button start, a rearview camera, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a voice-controlled UVO infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, navigation, and satellite radio.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You should also head over to our Kia deals page for the latest manufacturer incentives.

See 2016 Kia Rio specs and trims »

Rio Safety and Reliability

Aside from an available rearview camera, the 2016 Kia Rio doesn’t have many driver assistance or advanced safety features. Meanwhile, rivals like the Chevrolet Spark are available with forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and rear parking sensors. The Honda Fit and Nissan Versa both have optional multi-angle rearview camera systems that provide you with a 360-degree view around the car. 

The 2016 Rio's crash test ratings are a mixed bag. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Rio the top rating of Good in the moderate overlap, rear crash protection, and roof strength tests. It earned a Marginal rating in the small overlap test, and an Acceptable in the side impact test. On its five-star rating scale, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2016 Rio four stars in the front and rollover crash tests, and five stars in the side crash test. There are many cars in this class with much better scores, including the Scion iA, Chevy Sonic, and Honda Fit.

The 2016 Rio's predicted reliability rating is above average for the class. Only the Hyundai Accent has a better predicted reliability score, and by just a small margin.

The 2016 Kia Rio has a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

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Read more about reliability »

Other Cars to Consider

The Honda Fit offers premium materials, including soft-touch surfaces and top-notch construction. The cabin remains quiet at highway speeds, and front and rear visibility is excellent in the Fit. The front seats are generally comfortable for most, and rear-seat legroom is abundant. Available safety features in the Fit include a 360-degree camera system, lane departure warning, and a blind spot monitor. The Fit is also one of the few subcompact cars with more cargo space than the Rio. In terms of performance, the Fit has a comfortable ride over rugged roads, and it handles nimbly around corners. The Fit also earns slightly better fuel economy estimates than the Rio.

With fun styling and attractive, sleek materials – including its plastics – the Chevrolet Sonic's cabin is a pleasant place to be. Its front and rear seats offer plenty of head- and legroom for 6-footers to get comfortable, and the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel ensures the driver can find an ideal position. The Sonic sedan has more trunk space than the Rio sedan, but the Sonic hatchback has a bit less cargo space than the Rio hatchback. The Sonic is available with advanced features like a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, and it has more optional safety features than most subcompacts, including lane departure warning and forward collision alert. The Sonic also earns some of the best crash test ratings in the subcompact class. On the road, the Sonic has agile handling and a comfortable ride.

Compare the Rio, Fit, and Sonic in more detail »

Details: 2016 Kia Rio

The 2016 Kia Rio is available in sedan and hatchback body styles. A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive, and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard. Three trims are available: LX, EX, and SX. The Rio was last redesigned in 2012, and aside from discontinuing the manual transmission, it sees few changes this year. As a result, this overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2012 through 2016 model years.

Standard equipment includes a four-speaker audio system, satellite radio, a USB port, an auxiliary audio input jack, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Available features include keyless entry, push-button start, a sunroof, cruise control, navigation, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, and Kia’s voice-activated UVO infotainment system with a touch-screen display.

See 2016 Kia Rio specs and trims »

  • "The 2016 Kia Rio's 138-hp engine provides quicker-than-average acceleration for a subcompact sedan or hatchback." -- Edmunds
  • "Economy cars are a natural in the city but don't usually perform all that well on long highway expanses, but in testing the Kia Rio on such roads it surprised us with peppy acceleration, a stable ride and a quiet interior." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "Rio's attributes blend into a pleasant, satisfying feel behind the wheel." -- USA Today (2012)

Research Prices: 2016 Kia Rio

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