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#5

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $13,900 - $18,090
Invoice: $13,646 - $17,278
MPG: 27 City / 37 Hwy
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Kia Rio Performance

Overall, reviewers say the 2014 Kia Rio has a good amount of engine power for the class and good acceleration on the highway. Test drivers are impressed with the quiet, comfortable ride and rather nimble handling. Sport-tuned SX models are particularly agile on curvy roads, they say, though their ride is a bit harsher than in other trims.

  • "We spent most of our time running the 2014 Kia Rio over long highway expanses. Not usually the best environment for testing an economy car, the Rio surprised us with its peppy acceleration, stable ride and quiet interior." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Plus, with its high-mounted dash, reasonably quiet cabin and composed ride, the Rio feels much bigger than it is when you are behind the wheel." -- Edmunds (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The base 2014 Kia Rio comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower. A six-speed manual comes standard and a six-speed automatic is optional. The Rio gets an EPA-estimated 27/37 mpg city/highway with either transmission, which is good for the class.

Test drivers say that although the Rio’s engine isn’t a powerhouse, it offers plenty of pep from a stop and is competent at highway speeds, which is a rare compliment in the class. Automotive writers think the six-speed manual makes good use of the engine’s power and the automatic transmission has well-timed shifts.

  • "No Rio is particularly quick, but we do like the LX's 6-speed manual and wish it was available on the sporty SX. Since it is not, most will find the 6-speed automatic with manual shift control almost as fun and certainly as efficient, since both manual and automatic achieve identical fuel economy ratings." -- AutoTrader
  • "The direct-inject four-cylinder offers class-leading horsepower (tied with the Chevrolet Sonic and the Rio's Hyundai Accent cousin car) and getting the most out of the engine is easier with the manual. Shifter action is fluid and the clutch is light and easy to work. Throttle response from the engine could be a touch quicker for easier rev-matching, but it's OK." -- AutoWeek (2013)
  • "With the automatic transmission, Rio 5 offers good acceleration from a stop and enough gumption for drama-free highway merging. The 6-speed automatic shifts smoothly and downshifts promptly when called upon for more power." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "Kia did an excellent job of spacing the gear ratios in this transmission to provide decent launch performance, 60 mph at the top of second gear, and reasonably quiet highway cruising." -- Car and Driver (2013, SX manual hatchback)
  • "Given that midsize family sedans are now approaching 300 hp, it's hard to get excited about the 138-hp Kia Rio. Even so, its direct-injected four-cylinder is one of the more robust in its class and delivers impressive acceleration for a subcompact." -- Edmunds (2013)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say the 2014 Kia Rio handles well for a subcompact car, with accurate steering and little body lean in turns, though they point out it’s not as sporty as the Ford Fiesta. With the standard wheels, the Rio has a comfortable and quiet ride. The sport-tuned SX trim has larger wheels that offer more traction and a firmer ride that may be uncomfortable for some passengers, they add.

  • "Keeping in mind that this is a small commuter car, we are impressed by the way the Rio rides and handles. The LX and EX versions have smaller 15-in wheel and tire packages that help keep the cabin quieter and certainly deliver a softer ride than the SX trim's 17-in wheels. But the smaller wheel and tire combo also delivers only average cornering ability, with lots of squealing when the tires are pushed hard and an almost constant need for stability control. The SX does better, delivering more grip and a more stable driving experience." -- AutoTrader
  • "… we found the Rio's handling fairly agile, but not as dialed-in as the Ford Fiesta or Mazda2." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "With its firmer suspension tuning, the 2013 Kia Rio SX is a good choice for those who like feeling connected to the car but still want a comfortable ride. You may even have some fun behind the wheel, but it's not really that sporty and doesn't quite have that sophisticated blend of sharp handling and controlled ride like the Chevy Sonic or Ford Fiesta." -- Edmunds (2013)
  • "Responsive, well-weighted steering and easy to modulate brakes help create confidence behind the wheel. Body lean is minimal, and the car tracks well on the highway. Overall, Rio is nimble and pleasant to drive for a subcompact." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • “Like any front-wheel driver, it will plow ahead when pushed, but I would argue that the Rio SX with the manual is one of the more entertaining cars to drive. The tradeoff is a stiffer ride quality. You will feel medium to large bumps in the road that I'm OK with, but your normal B-segment shopper looking for basic wheels may find it a little too much." -- AutoWeek (2013)
Review Last Updated: 5/15/14

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