Reviews

2017 Kia Rio Driving Impressions


As long as expectations are modest and realistic, the Kia Rio should prove wholly adequate for daily transportation tasks. Considering its price, it performs appropriately.

Only one weakness is evident: a bumpy, jarring ride when rolling through imperfect pavement surfaces. Steering isn’t weighted as well as in a Ford Fiesta, and can feel a bit numb. Yet, in ordinary driving on the road, a Rio feels acceptably composed. In fact, Kia’s subcompact handles rather well, considering its short wheelbase, small size, and basic suspension design.

Kia’s engine works quietly, hardly noticed in everyday driving. The automatic transmission has gears nicely spaced to deliver peak performance, as long as you don’t expect spirited responses. Acceleration to 60 mph, after all, takes about 10 seconds, putting it among the slowest cars on the road. Pushing the Active Eco button deadens the gas pedal a bit, to improve fuel-efficiency (while making it slower still).

Though less thrifty than some class rivals, the Rio gets reasonably good fuel economy. With the six-speed automatic transmission, the Rio is EPA-rated at 27/36 mpg City/Highway, or 30 mpg Combined. Manual shift, available only in the LX sedan, is EPA-rated just a tad higher, at 31 mpg Combined. That same estimate goes to the Eco edition of the EX, which lacks several external body elements and substitutes steel wheels for the regular alloy versions.

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