New for 2015
The Kia Rio remains largely unchanged for the 2015 model year, but drops Silverstone Beige as an exterior color option.
The Kia Rio is a subcompact car available in sedan or hatchback form that fits below the Forte in the automaker’s lineup.
The 2015 Kia Rio is equipped with a six-speed manual or automatic on LX models; the automatic is the only option for the EX and SX models. The 1.6-liter I-4 makes 138 hp and 123 lb-ft of torque, and drives the front wheels for an EPA-estimated 27/37 mpg city/highway, or one additional mpg in the city with the optional engine start/stop technology. For the segment, the Rio’s available push-button start, bold 17-inch wheels, heated leather seating, and LED daytime running lights make it a standout value for those who want upscale features in a subcompact package.
The 2015 Kia Rio received a four-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars), but it was noted that during the side crash test the door panel struck the rear dummy creating a safety concern. In IIHS testing the Rio received three ratings of good, one of acceptable for the side crash category, and one of marginal in the new – and more difficult – small overlap front category; the highest possible rating is good.
What We Think
The 2015 Kia Rio is the kind of car that defines the term “econobox” but does so without being offensive. The fuel economy is respectable but not quite class leading, the styling is rounded but not distinctive, and the driving dynamic is adequate but not exciting. The Rio, as one editor put it after driving a 2012 model, does not excel in any one area but “is nonetheless quite competent all around, and is really emblematic of the success automakers have had in building a better econobox.”
The problem with the Rio, indeed with the smallest fuel-misers, is the rising cost. The base Rio LX, which comes without power windows or locks, starts at an astonishingly low $14,815 including the destination charge, but move to the EX with its Bluetooth, power windows, and remote keyless entry, and the price climbs to $17,815, or $18,015 for the Rio hatchback. The competition delivers quite a bit for the same money, as a $16,470 2015 Honda Fit LX offers Bluetooth and a rearview camera, though the price climbs to $17,270 with the available CVT instead of the standard six-speed manual. Though base-model Kia Soul and Fortes might not be much more than the subcompact, the Rio is one of the better looking compacts on the market.
- Exterior styling
- Quiet – for the segment – highway ride
- Plenty of available features on SX
You Won’t Like
- Engine note unrefined at higher revs
- Soul and Forte aren’t much more at mid-level Rio trims
- Can only get a manual transmission on the base model
- Honda Fit
- Toyota Yaris
- Chevrolet Sonic
- Ford Fiesta