2012 Kia Rio

LX FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4 man trans

2012 kia rio Reviews and News

2012 Kia Rio Front Left Side View
Let's face it, the Kia Rio pretty much defines the term "econobox." But if the latest version does nothing else, it shows the extent to which the current generation of entry-level, B-segment cars has progressed. Consider the econobox redefined.
Outside, we find a smoothly rounded exterior (designed in California). The styling is inoffensive, although there is a large scallop-shaped crease in the bodyside -- sort of a reverse-Bugatti. It's somewhat obscured by my test example's black livery, and that may be for the best. Otherwise, though, it's pretty inoffense.
Inside, there's precious little to complain about in my mid-level EX. The dash is attractive, with huge, clear gauges, and a classy-looking row of buttons beneath the high-mounted radio. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good and comes with audio controls. My test example also was equipped with a touch-screen radio w/UVO (Microsoft) voice controls and a back-up camera. The cloth upholstery is nothing special and the armrests are thinly padded -- but at least they are padded. The two-tone cream-and-black color scheme looks good, and fits and graining are well done. Don't expect a lot of rear-seat space, though; this is a very small car.
With the help of direct injection, Kia is able to wring an impressive 138 hp out of the diminutive, 1.6-liter engine. Wisely, the Koreans provide six forward gears in both the standard manual and the optional automatic transmissions -- that's increasing common, but not universal. With either transmission, the Rio hits that all-important 40-mpg number on the highway, and 30 in the city. Like nearly all subcompacts, the Rio uses electrically assisted power steering, and as in nearly all subcompacts, the steering is lacking in both feel and linearity. Damping and body control aren't great but the small, fifteen-inch wheels and resultant 65-series tires do take the edge off of sharp bumps -- much more effectively than many flashier cars with high-style big wheels.
As surprisingly pleasant as the Rio and its ilk are today, there's a less happy truth about today's new crop of subcompacts: Their prices have crept up. Yes, you can get a base Rio LX for $14,350, but it has crank windows and manual door locks, and is missing many of the niceties here, such as the soft-touch dash and door armrests, the center armrest, Bluetooth, et cetera. The mid-level EX model I had starts at $17,250; and the top-spec SX is just under $18,000 before options.
There are subcompacts that are more spacious (Honda Fit), better to drive (Ford Fiesta), and more interesting to look at (Chevy Sonic). But the Rio, while not excelling in any one area, is nonetheless quite competent all around, and is really emblematic of the success automakers have had in building a better econobox.

2012 Kia Rio EX 5-door

Base price (with destination): $17,250
Price as tested: $18,345
Standard Equipment:
1.6-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine
6-speed automatic transmission
Active Eco system
Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering
Power windows
Power door locks w/remote
Hill Assist Control
AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system w/satellite radio, and USB and aux inputs
Steering-wheel-mounted audio controls
Tilt & telescoping steering column
60/40 split-folding rear seats
Metal-finish interior trim
Body-color power mirrors
Cargo cover
Options on this vehicle:
Convenience Package - $1000 - Alloy wheels
- Fog lights
- Power folding outside mirrors w/turn signal indicators
- Rear view camera
- UVO in-vehicle entertainment system
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob
- Illuminated vanity mirrors
- Dual map lights
- Soft-touch dash
Carpeted floor mats - $95
Key options not on vehicle: Auto-dimming mirror w/compass and Homelink - $295
Sport graphic - $120
Fuel economy:
30 / 40 / 33 mpg
1.6L DOHC I-4
Horsepower: 138 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 123 lb-ft @ 4850 rpm
6-speed automatic
Curb weight: 2483 lb
15-inch wheels
185/65 R15 Kumho Solus KH25 tires
Chevrolet Sonic
Ford Fiesta
Honda Fit
Hyundai Accent
Nissan Versa
Toyota Yaris
2012 Kia Rio Sedan Front Left View 2
The new Kia Rio sedan drives absolutely nothing like its hatchback counterpart. Well, at least not the hatchback we drove back-to-back with the sedan in Florida this week.
You see, we drove a hatchback that had been stripped of most of its interior components, fitted with a roll cage and a racing seat, and equipped with upgraded suspension and brake parts in order to compete in the upcoming B-Spec racing series for minimally modified small production cars.

Please B mine

The B-Spec car was ridiculously fun to toss around the tight road course at the European Rally School & Motorsport Park northeast of Gainesville. The race car is only marginally quicker than the production car -- primarily because it's about 160 pounds lighter -- but it has very good steering and sticks to the road incredibly well, especially on its BFGoodrich racing slicks (we initially had to drive the B-Spec car on Kumho all-season rubber, until the track dried). The team from Kinetic Motorsports, which modified the Rio for racing, had a tough time getting me out of the car -- and not because the roll cage was in the way.

Back to Reality

The Rio sedan is far less inspiring. To its credit, however, the Rio (in either body style) is one of the better-driving compact cars on the market. As with the hatchback, the sedan's steering is pretty firm and direct (at least at higher speeds) and handling is sporty and crisp. The ride quality is firm and can be somewhat harsh, at least with the attractive seventeen-inch wheels on our test car. Road noise is noticeable, too, but the sedan is slightly quieter than the hatchback, particularly for rear-seat passengers. The six-speed automatic transmission does its job unobtrusively, and straight-line performance is merely adequate, but at higher revs, the 138-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine sounds as coarse as a boisterous karaoke performer who probably should've remained a spectator.
The Rio's interior is quite nice, and lots of fancy features are available, such as nicely supportive heated leather seats, touch-screen navigation, a backup camera, a sunroof, and keyless push-button starting. Our test car was a fully loaded SX with a sticker price of $20,545; that kind of cash that can buy a variety of nice cars from the larger, compact segment. The base Rio sedan, the LX, costs $14,150, but that's a stick-shift model that isn't available with any notable options. (Regrettably, a manual transmission is available only on that most basic model, on which you can't even get power windows.) The more versatile -- and, to our eyes, more attractive -- hatchback costs only $200 more than the sedan.

What's the difference?

Unlike many sedans with a hatchback sibling, the Rio's front clip doesn't completely match that of the 5-door. The sedan has a larger, more prominent grille, and its lower front fascia has a very horizontal secondary grille opening and almost-trapezoidal foglamps instead of the hatchback's round units sandwiching an actual trapezoid-shaped lower grille. The headlamps also differ between the two cars.
The tacked-on trunk (which actually doesn't look tacked on) means that the sedan is 12.6 inches longer than the Rio hatchback, which might be an issue for those who do a lot of on-street parking. The trunk has a volume of 13.7 cubic feet, which is only 1.3 cubic feet less than that of the hatchback with the rear seats in the upright position. There's also quite a bit of storage space beneath the trunk floor, since there's no spare tire under there (a tire-sealant kit and a mini air compressor take its place, for better or worse).
Fuel economy is identical to that of the 5-door; the EPA rating for all Rio trim levels, body styles, and powertrains is 30/40 mpg city/highway. According to Kia, the sedan weighs three pounds less than the hatchback (2480 pounds for a sedan with an automatic) so that difference is negligible.

Want one?

The hatchback is traditionally the more popular Rio body style, hence that car's half-year head start in the marketplace, although Kia marketing VP Michael Sprague expects the sedan/hatch split to settle near fifty-fifty. The Rio sedan officially goes on sale in March. If you do a lot of city driving, you might want to hold out for the 2013 Rios, which will arrive in the second quarter of 2012, because they will offer the auto stop/start that is already available on the Soul.

2012 Kia Rio Sedan

On sale: Now
Base price: $14,150
Engine: 1.6L I-4, 138 hp, 123 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Drive: Front -wheel
Fuel economy: 30/40/33 city/highway/combined
2012 Kia Rio/Rio5
2012 Kia Rio/Rio5
All new for 2012, the Kia Rio, heretofore an archetypally boring car, has become truly interesting. Clean lines, an upright and aggressive front fascia, and standard fifteen-inch wheels dispel the sense of awkwardness and cheapness that commonly afflicts subcompact cars. The top-of-the-line SX model goes even further, with seventeen-inch aluminum wheels and LED accents for the taillights and the daytime running lamps. That's flashy hardware for a subcompact, but the Rio pulls it all together subtly in a fashion not unlike the Volkswagen GTI. The new Hyundai Accent, its under-the-skin twin, is probably more distinct, but the Rio is without a doubt more expensive-looking. The Rio also looks good on the inside -- typically an area where economy cars serve up lots of cheap and nasty hard plastic. Here, there's a handsome dash with large switches and available navigation. The graining of the plastics and the number of soft-touch surfaces impresses. Predictably, the Rio shares much with the Accent, from its 101.2-inch wheelbase to its direct-injected, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. Paired with either a six-speed manual or an optional six-speed automatic, the hatchback should achieve 29 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. Kia estimates that the sedan will do 30 mpg in the city along with the now-requisite 40 mpg on the highway. On the debit side are overboosted steering and a ride that can be harsh. Overall, the Rio is now one of the more refined, better-looking offerings in a segment brimming with good cars.
2012 Kia Rio Front Three Quarter
Geocaching is an activity that pairs scavenger hunts with GPS devices, and geocachers usually find little toys or trinkets at the end of each hunt. Today's Feature Flick has a pair of 2012 Kia Rios and a scavenger hunt, but the prize wasn't a toy--it was a meet and greet with pop star Christina Milian. The video is three minutes and 17 seconds of subcompact Kia hijinks on the streets of Los Angeles, with competitors jumping into two brand new Kia Rio hatchbacks to drive around Hollywood and the surrounding landmarks, from Griffith Park to Rodeo Drive and Amoeba Records, the world's largest independent record store. At the end, the contestants climbed the stairs to the penthouse at the Hotel Roosevelt, where they met up with Christina Milian for a roof-top get-together. If you're wondering why we're watching Christina Milian in a video when she hasn't had a big hit song since "Dip It Low" in 2004, she's recently signed to rap superlabel Young Money and is reportedly working on new music. For someone who was a star when Kia sales were a fraction of what they are today, it appears the popularity tables have turned and Christina Milian is looking for a boost from the popular brand. We hope it works. Source: Kia via YouTube Click here for video
2012 Honda Civic Hybrid Left Side View Parked
The American auto industry has become fixated on 40 mpg. This new benchmark dominates car advertising, and nearly every manufacturer is rushing to tweak its models -- or bring out entirely new cars -- in order to achieve that figure in EPA fuel-economy testing. That's a good thing for the environment and consumers' wallets, but higher-mileage cars often come at the expense of driving enjoyment. While a tiny hybrid car might be incredibly efficient, it probably won't get its driver's heart racing.
2012 Honda Civic Hybrid Front Slight Left View
2012 Ford Focus SFE vs. 2012 Ford Focus SE
The 2012 Ford Focus only achieves the magical 40 mpg mark on the highway if buyers spring for the special fuel-saving SFE option package. Focus sedans so equipped wear unique 16-inch steel wheels with special aerodynamic covers, low rolling-resistance tires, a new rear spoiler, and active grille shutters that can close to reduce drag. The SFE model, however, is available only with Ford's six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Called PowerShift, the new transmission debuted on the 2011 Ford Fiesta and then the 2012 Focus.
2012 Ford Focus Rear View In Motion

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2012 Kia Rio Specifications

Quick Glance:
1.6L I4Engine
Fuel economy City:
30 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
40 MPG
138 hp @ 6300rpm
123 ft lb of torque @ 4850rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows (optional)
  • Power Locks (optional)
  • Power Seats (optional)
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control (optional)
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer Rear (optional)
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation (optional)
60,000 miles / 60 months
100,000 miles / 120 months
100,000 miles / 60 months
60,000 miles / 60 months
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
NHTSA Rating Front Side
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
NHTSA Rating Overall
NHTSA Rating Rollover
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Best Pick
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength

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