2011 Kia Rio Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
Kia designed the 2011 Rio for drivers in search of the perfect car for commuting and running errands that will fit their budgets. But in a class of cars known for high safety ratings and good values, the Rio is merely adequate.
- "The engine is noisy at higher rpm. Cruising is less noisy with the automatic transmission vs the manual. There is moderate wind rush. Rios have lots of tire thrum over coarse pavement and some thumping over bumps." -- Consumer Guide
- "The Rio's 1.6-liter engine gets noisy at high rpm but provides decent punch, especially with the manual transmission. Precise action and a smooth clutch make shifting the manual gearbox enjoyable. Rios with the automatic aren't as peppy, although gear changes are smooth and relatively quick." -- Edmunds
- "If you like a subcompact that's more fun to drive than some cars in its league, maneuvering with a smooth, certain spirit, the Rio5 is worth a closer look." -- Kelley Blue Book
Acceleration and Power
All Rio and Rio5 models have a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 110 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the Rio sedan, and a four-speed automatic is available on all models except the base sedan. The Rio5 has the same 1.6 liter engine, but comes standard with a four-speed automatic transmission.
The EPA estimates that the 2011 Rio achieves 28/34 mpg city/highway with the standard manual transmission. The automatic transmission, which is standard on the Rio5, nets 27/36 mpg. These numbers are good for the class.
The Rio is not a powerful car, but test drivers say it works well as a daily driver. For a more fun–to-drive experience, try the manual transmission. Reviewers find its acceleration is sprightly, while the automatic transmission is a bit sluggish.
- "Rio is adequate around town with either transmission but could use more power for highway passing. The manual transmission shifts easily and has light clutch action." -- Consumer Guide
- "Although Kia has made major strides in noise, vibration and harshness, the Rio's engine is still buzzy under harder acceleration and lacks the smoothness and refinement of its Japanese competitors." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Acceleration suffers a little when you choose the automatic transmission. A Rio5 SX automatic we tested took 11.5 seconds to run to 60 mph." -- Edmunds
Handling and Braking
Considering it’s one of the least expensive affordable small cars in the class, the 2011 Kia Rio handles very well. Test drivers report that its ride is smooth and stable, and the cabin is quiet at highway speeds. They do say, however, that the Rio’s suspension doesn’t absorb a lot of bumps on rough roads.
- "Rios are solidly built and are generally comfortable subcompacts. Still, there is some jouncing on wavy pavement, thumping on smaller bumps, and occasional jolts on larger disturbances." -- Consumer Guide
- "The Rio's ride is smooth and stable, and even at 75 mph, the cabin is hushed. The suspension isn't as composed over broken pavement as we'd like, though, as large impacts tend to shudder through the cabin." -- Edmunds
- "Even when the pavement gets troublesome, Kia's suspension absorbs considerable roughness." -- Kelley Blue Book