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#29

in 2011 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $7,981 - $10,992
Original MSRP: $12,295 - $16,395
MPG: 28 City / 34 Hwy
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Used Car: 2011 Kia Rio Review

Review Last Updated: 7/25/12

Good fuel economy ratings and a low price positioned the 2011 Kia Rio as a good commuter car, however, with poor safety ratings and performance, it’s easy to find a better alternative.

When it was new, the 2011 Kia Rio was one of the most inexpensive small cars you could buy, but car reviewers thought it was okay if you just wanted basic transportation.

The 2011 Kia Rio doesn’t have as much interior space as its competitors. Cargo space is good for the Rio’s size, but unimpressive for the class, and reviewers said taller drivers will be cramped. Additionally, the Rio’s small back seat isn’t comfortable for adults. Neither the sedan nor the hatchback (Rio5) has a luxurious interior, but some reviewers thought that the Rio’s interior quality was just as good as pricier affordable small cars.

The Rio doesn’t have a lot of standard features. The base model has a four-speaker stereo with an auxiliary input jack, satellite radio and a USB port. If you want a car that’s better-equipped, look for the LX trim, which adds features like air conditioning, power steering and anti-lock brakes. Navigation and stability control aren’t available on the 2011 Rio.

The 2011 Rio comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. Some test drivers said it has enough power for traveling around town, but the Rio comes up short if you need passing power on the highway. However, the Rio’s fuel economy is good, returning 27/36 mpg city/highway with the available automatic transmission.

The Rio’s crash test scores are among the lowest in the class and its reliability runs middle-of-the-pack. Given this, you’ll likely get more for your money by going back a year and checking out higher-ranking 2010 small cars.  

See the full 2011 Kia Rio/Rio5 specs »

Other Cars to Consider

While the 2011 Rio ranks toward the bottom of its class, the 2010 Hyundai Elantra is one of the top-ranking 2010 small cars. The Elantra earned the U.S. News 2010 Best Compact Car for the Money award for a number of reasons. The Elantra shines where the Rio falters, with reliability and safety ratings that are much higher. The Elantra also has a more powerful engine that’s well-suited for highway and city driving. Inside, the cabin’s front and rear seats are spacious, and the Elantra also offers a large trunk.

The 2011 Toyota Yaris is available in sedan and hatchback body styles, just like the Rio. Both versions of the Yaris have good fuel economy ratings, as well as more standard safety features and higher safety ratings than the Kia Rio. Like the Rio, the Yaris doesn’t have the most cargo or passenger space in the class, and the base Yaris isn’t loaded with standard features. The Yaris also isn’t the most powerful, but car reviewers thought it had enough spunk for daily commutes. With good reliability scores thrown in, the 2011 Yaris is a smarter buy than the Rio.

Compare the Rio to the Elantra and Yaris »

Used car average prices are provided by ClearBook™, a TrueCar™ product