If you’ve ever been to Rio de Janeiro, you know it’s a fun, beautiful place that can also be a little wild. Not so much the Kia Rio which is more about fuel economy and a comfortable sticker price than it is about hot design or blazing performance.
Kia’s all-new 2018 Rio sedan and 5-door hatchback are no exception. The latest from Namyang, Korea offers something new and well, something old for the practical.
Let’s start with the new.
The Rio is available in a three trim levels – LX, S, and EX, and all have a six-speaker stereo with satellite radio, and a rear-view camera system.
Its top-tier EX trim gets a seven-inch floating touchscreen, voice recognition infotainment system, Bluetooth, and it’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay friendly. Rio’s center console also sports a cool bi-level tray for smartphones and tiny tablets.
“Value has always been a core tenet for the Kia brand and the all-new Rio sedan and 5-door continue to underscore our commitment to those buyers looking for an entry-level vehicle but desire more than what the subcompact segment currently offers,” said Orth Hedrick, Kia vice president of product planning, in a statement.
“This fourth-generation Rio makes significant improvements over its predecessor in design, technology and passenger comfort, resulting in an even better value proposition for our customers, while raising the bar in the small-car segment.”
Rio also features a larger, all-new platform with a completely new suspension. The manual transmission weighs 2,648 pounds and the automatic version weighs in at 2,714 pounds. The automatic has a fully independent MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear axle. Both feature a revised spring and damper setup too.
Now for the old.
Power remains the same for both: The Rio has a thrifty 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that packs 130 horsepower and 119 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. The four-cylinder engine is mated to your choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. (We say go for the stick.)
While the Rio sports 11-inch disc brakes up front, it is equipped with old school drum brakes in the rear. Only the EX model offers 11-inch disc brakes up front and 10.3-inch rear disc brakes.
Aside from the cheaper brakes on the base models (really, spring for the disc brakes), the Rio offers six airbags, side-impact door beams, electronic stability control, a four-wheel anti-lock brake system, hill-start assist control, and vehicle stability management.
Size-wise the Rio sedan has grown a wee bit to 172.6 inches, up a hair from 172.0 inches. And the Rio hatch is now 160.0 inches long, up from 159.4 inches. Both get a slightly longer wheelbase of 101.6 inches — a whopping extra half inch.
The Rio still rolls on 15-inch wheels and the sedan’s passenger space is 89.9 cubic feet versus the 5-door hatchback which measures 90.5 cubic feet.
Cargo room on the sedan measures 13.7 cubic feet and 17.4 cubic feet on the hatch, according to Kia. With the seats folded down, the hatchback only offers 32.8 cubic feet, which is much less than the previous generation’s 47.1 cubic feet.
Still, this looks like a good amount of tech for what will invariably be a low price people mover.
Pricing and delivery dates for the 2018 Rio sedan and 5-door are expected later in the year.