2012 Kia Rio5

LX FWD 4-Dr Hatchback I4 man trans

2012 kia rio5 Reviews and News

02 2012 Kia Rio 5 Front Left View
Automobile Magazine has long defined itself by cars like the Kia Rio. As in, we don't care about them. Rudimentary, slow, dourly pragmatic -- the Rio and its ilk are a perfect bogey for writers and readers who proudly chant, "no boring cars." Progress has chipped away at this simplistic worldview with cool subcompacts and stylish new Kias. But at least we had the old Rio to kick around. Until now. With the new-for-2012 Rio, Kia aims to send us into a full-on identity crisis. We flew all the way to Seoul, Korea, to find out if this archetypical boring car has truly become interesting.
02 2012 Kia Rio 5 Front Left View
Kia's most European design yet
Kia has long since left behind amateurish, imitative designs like the old Amanti (still a common sight on the streets of Seoul), and yet the Rio surprises us once again with its handsome, understated looks. Although Kia's Irvine, California, studio led the design effort, the car unmistakably aspires toward -- and achieves -- a premium European aesthetic. Clean lines, an upright and aggressive front fascia, and standard fifteen-inch wheels dispel the sense of awkwardness and cheapness that commonly afflict 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. We wouldn't be surprised if the window sticker winds up reflecting that impression. Kia hasn't yet announced pricing, but it's hard to imagine it undercutting the Accent, which ranges from $13,205 to $17,555, has smaller fourteen- to sixteen-inch wheels, and offers fewer options.
There's more understated Euro-style goodness inside. The dash, with its simple round gauges and a combination of large dials and toggle-style switches, looks a bit like what's in the new Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The materials quality is quintessential Volkswagen -- soft-touch everywhere it should be and soft on the eyes everywhere else. The Rio's interior may have slightly fewer squishy bits than the segment-leading Ford Fiesta, but it looks more expensive thanks to its more natural graining. There's plenty of function to follow the good form. Bluetooth, cruise control, and a tilting-and-telescoping steering column are standard on all but the price-leading LX model. An optional seven-inch LCD navigation screen reads crisply and works intuitively. Nicely bolstered front seats upholstered with cloth nicer than the econocar norm provided daylong comfort for this jetlagged driver. The rear seats will suit small- to medium-size adults, and a low center hump eases slide-over. They fold almost completely flat on our hatchback (we have yet to sample a sedan), creating one of the larger rear holds in the segment. However, the relatively small hatch opening and high bottom ledge will limit its ability to swallow bulky items.
Cruising (and stopping) through Korea
Mechanically, the Rio predictably 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-prerequisite 40 mpg on the highway. One feature unique to the Rio is an optional start/stop system, which will be available shortly after launch and should net one more mile per gallon in the EPA's urban cycle. Kia believes (as do other automakers we've spoken with about such systems) that the real-world benefits for those who drive in the city will be greater.
Over a 250-mile round trip from Seoul to the Seorak Pine Resort near Korea's eastern coast, our midlevel EX hatchback equipped with fifteen-inch aluminum wheels (steel wheels are standard) proved a competent companion. The 138-hp, 1.6-liter four accelerates smoothly and quietly. Shifts from the six-speed automatic are smooth and predictable, and even when we turn on the now-ubiquitous eco mode, upshifting is less fuel-economy oriented than what we've experienced in some 40-mpg specials. An even more efficient seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission currently under development at Hyundai and Kia's Namyang research and development center may not be far away.
We'll need to experience the Rio on roads more varied than Korea's scenic but unchallenging highways before issuing a final verdict on its driving dynamics. For now, it seems free of any real bad habits, even if it's not as playful as, say, a Mazda 2. The electric power steering feels exactly like that in most modern cars -- quick and precise but mostly devoid of feedback. The extremely light low-speed steering -- again very common in the segment -- will please Olive Oil, your ninety-one-year-old aunt, and anyone else who has trouble maneuvering a 2500-pound car in a parking lot. For the rest of us, it's unnecessary and saps some of the intrinsic fun of flicking about a small car at low speeds. Thankfully, it gets firmer at higher speeds and gains better on-center feel. A few short bursts above 80 mph -- about as fast as we dare due to Korea's omnipresent speed cameras -- finds impressive directional stability accompanied by a bit more wind and road noise than we'd like, at least on this preproduction model. As in other new Kias, the Rio's ride is firm bordering on harsh, with a tendency to pogo over wavy sections of pavement.
There will also be a sporty SX model with seventeen-inch wheels, larger front disc brakes, a thicker front antiroll bar, and, inexplicably, only the automatic transmission. In any event, Kia was keener to have us sample the aforementioned start/stop system, which will come as an option only on automatic-equipped EX models. Our impression? It starts. And stops. Perhaps a bit less smoothly than the best versions we've experienced but easy enough to get used to. The real questions will be how much it will add to the window sticker and what other options are bundled with it. Kia Motors America did not share how it will price the option, but Korean officials let on that it costs about $400 by itself.
Conclusion: No boring car?
Not long ago, the Rio was a cheap, forgettable car produced by a cheap, forgettable carmaker to compete in a cheap, forgettable segment. We're not yet ready to say where the Rio falls relative to the current leaders like the Ford Fiesta (rest assured: we will bring them together to find out), and we'll need to drive the sporty SX on more varied roads before we can offer a driving enthusiast's endorsement. But it's safe to say the circle is complete: the Rio is now one of the more refined, better-looking offerings in a segment brimming with good cars.
The Rio hatchback ("Rio 5-door," as Kia is calling it) goes on sale in September and will start at less than $14,000; our test car was spec'd to about $15,000. The sedan will reach dealerships later in 2011 and will cost less than the 5-door. Vehicles with start/stop technology are set to arrive in America by early 2012.
2012 Kia Rio5 Review
2012 Kia Rio5 Review

When looking for the right car, everyone knows choice is important. With the 2012 Kia Rio5, the Japanese company offered plenty of options. The Rio5 is available as a sedan or hatchback in one of three well appointed trim levels. The exterior of the car is unique and sure to attract attention wherever it goes. Inside the cabin, there is no denying the thought and attention to detail that went into designing the model. While it isn’t a muscle car by any stretch of the imagination, the Rio5 performs at least as well as its competitors on the road. This model is attractive and fun with lots of regular standard and safety features.

New For 2012

For the 2012 model year, Kia chose to completely redesign the Rio5 line.

Exterior

The Kia Rio5 for the 2012 model year is a completely redesigned model and features two available body styles, the hatchback and the sedan. Each of the body styles is available in three different trim levels. Buyers can chose from the base LX, the EX with more standard features, and the SX with its sporty accents. The LX has 15-inch steel wheels, while the EX rides around on 15-inch alloy wheels. The SX gets 17-inch alloy wheels. The front end and grille of this model is distinctive with styling sure to win it plenty of fans. The grille is narrow and uniquely shaped with the Kia emblem low on the hood, just above the grille. The headlights are high above the front fenders for good night visibility. This model features a low slung roof line that tapers back to the traditional sedan trunk or hatchback. Along the sides of the Rio5 Kia added in modern lines with a strong accent along the bottom of the doors with curved metal work ending just below the door handles.

Interior & Cargo

One of the first things to notice in the well appointed 2012 Kia Rio5 is the fine quality of materials and overall attractive interior design. This small car doesn’t feel small on the inside at all. Taller drivers are sure to appreciate the tilt telescoping steering wheel that allows for plenty of space. Even in the rear seats, passengers won’t experience that closed in feeling that occurs in many cars of this class. While on the subject of space, the cargo area is a big concern for many car buyers. The sedan version is equipped for 13.7 cubic feet of space. Putting the rear seats down in the hatchback model gives up a total of 49.8 cubic feet of cargo space.

Back to the materials used in the Kia Rio5 and even the lower trim level features nice details. The hard plastic used in the cabin is textured and remarkably soft to the touch. Step up a trim level or two and the Rio5 is even more refined with attractive metallic details and a soft to the touch dash.

Technology wasn’t forgotten in this model either. Each one is equipped with Kia’s Uvo voice command system. This system controls audio devices, cell phones, and the car’s navigation system. It is powered by Microsoft much like Ford’s similar control system. To make things simpler, the Uvo system is somewhat intuitive and pretty easy to learn to use.

Safety

The 2012 Kia Rio5 has all of the standard safety features one would expect. It also has a few you might not. This car is equipped with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, unlike many others of its class. In test drives, the Rio5 in the SX trim level stops from 60 mph in 119 feet, much faster than others in this category.

Along with the excellent braking system the Rio5 is equipped with stability and traction control as well as the full assortment of airbags. This model has front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. Additionally, the car also has hill start assist on every model.

Driving Experience

Naturally what’s under the hood is important as well. The 2012 Kia Rio5 is equipped with a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder. The trim level determines the gearbox options. The LX is equipped with the standard six-speed manual transmission with the option of the six-speed automatic. On the EX and SX trim levels, the only transmission available is the six-speed automatic. The powertrain puts forth 138 hp and 123 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is estimated at 28/36 mpg city/highway for the automatic transmission and 29/37 mpg city/highway for the manual.

The powertrain on the Kia Rio5 is likely to sound rather pathetic next to some of the other available models on the market. Most test drivers were surprised by the acceleration and power the Rio5 possesses especially in the SX trim level. The smaller engine also helps to keep fuel costs low.

Key Competitors For The 2012 Kia Rio5

  • Chevrolet Sonic
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Honda Fit
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Nissan Versa

Rating

2
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Suggested Retail Price
$13,600

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2012 Kia Rio5
2012 Kia Rio5
LX FWD 4-Dr Hatchback I4
30 MPG City | 40 MPG Hwy
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2012 Kia Rio5
2012 Kia Rio5
LX FWD 4-Dr Hatchback I4
30 MPG City | 40 MPG Hwy
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2012 Kia Rio5
2012 Kia Rio5
LX FWD 4-Dr Hatchback I4
$13,600
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2012 Kia Rio5
2012 Kia Rio5
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2012 Kia Rio5
2012 Kia Rio5
LX FWD 4-Dr Hatchback I4
138hp
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2012 Kia Rio5 Specifications

Quick Glance:
Engine
1.6L I4Engine
Fuel economy City:
30 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
40 MPG
Horsepower:
138 hp @ 6300rpm
Torque:
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)
Vehicle
60,000 miles / 60 months
Powertrain
100,000 miles / 120 months
Corrosion
100,000 miles / 60 months
Roadside
60,000 miles / 60 months
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
4
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
4
NHTSA Rating Front Side
4
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
5
NHTSA Rating Overall
4
NHTSA Rating Rollover
4
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
N/R
IIHS Overall Side Crash
N/R
IIHS Best Pick
N/R
IIHS Rear Crash
N/R
IIHS Roof Strength
N/R

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