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Avg. Price Paid:$6,069 - $6,902
Original MSRP: $12,915 - $14,715
MPG: 27 City / 32 Hwy
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2008 Kia Rio5 Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Kia Rio5 was new.

The Kia Rio5's performance is sufficient for its size. U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman says "it must be a dog on the road, right? That's the most interesting surprise the Rio5 delivers. The four-cylinder engine is tiny -- but the Rio5 squeezes the most out of every single one of its 110 horsepower."

Still, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says, "I found myself enjoying the heck out of driving the Rio. It's great on corners and around curves, and it never loses its composure." According to Cars.com, the Rio5 "maneuvers eagerly through urban or rural environments, and its body rolls less than anticipated."

Acceleration and Power

The 2008 Kia Rio5's 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine lives up to expectations, as long as they aren't set too high. If you have moderate expectations, you can anticipate moderate performance. Edmunds describes the power as "a bit conservative, but that's hardly unexpected," while the Los Angeles Times says "you would not put this car in any urban derbies against subcompact tuners, but its torque-y, 110-hp inline four … does move the car briskly around town."

Where high expectations are met is the hatch's "above average" fuel mileage, Edmunds notes. With the standard manual transmission, the EPA rates the Rio5 at 27 miles per gallon in the city with 32 mpg on highways. An automatic transmission lowers the Rio5’s fuel economy to 25 mpg in the city with 35 mpg expected on highways.

But issues arise with the 2008 Kia Rio5's standard five-speed manual. Automobile Magazine notes "long throws and a numb notchy feel," and Autobytel says "drivers with a manual transmission will want to drop a gear or two before planting the throttle." Of all reviews, Cars.com is in the minority, claiming the manual "makes the Rio even more appealing for lively motoring."

The optional four-speed automatic transmission isn't perfect but there is more to praise. Only Car and Driver calls out "rope-a-dope" shifting, but Edmunds states "the automatic serves up smooth upshifts and on-time downshifts." The problem lies in acceleration, as Autobytel notes "you'll want to be especially cautious when passing vehicles."

Handling and Braking

The Washington Post and others agree the Rio5 "makes no pretense of being able to take corners in the manner of a Porsche, and cares not a whit about prestige. It is the car of everyman and everywoman, the four-wheeled version of the working stiff." Efficient handling is courtesy of an independent MacPherson front suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bar and torsion beam rear.

The Rio5's power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering is pleasant. Edmunds says it has "a convenient dead spot-on center that makes plowing down the interstate a mindless chore. If it had cruise control the car wouldn't need us at all." The Los Angeles Times finds "the fixed steering ratio is relatively high, which makes the car lively at the wheel and easier to park."

The 2008 Kia Rio's brakes are hydraulic, power-assisted four-channel vented discs in the front, with rear drums standard. Drivers have the option for solid rear discs and anti-lock brakes, and the Kansas City Star is one to suggest drivers take it. Consumer Guide, states, "ABS furnishes good stopping control, pedal feel," and a test car "without ABS suffered every rear-wheel lockup in rapid braking on wet roads."

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

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