2018 Kia Rio Review

Written by Anqoinette Crosby

When a friend decided to ditch his townhome in the suburbs for a studio in  the city, I thought he was nuts. His new cramped quarters required some major purging of many of his possessions, including his elephantine SUV. That’s why the pint-sized, fully redesigned 2018 Kia Rio I was test driving caught his attention.


The Rio is quite an attractive option for urbanites looking for budget-friendly wheels. After all, for city driving purposes — size really does matter. The Kia is small enough to squeeze into tight parking spaces and nimble enough to zig zag through traffic without a care in the world.

Rio also gets kudos for its intuitive interior. The subcompact comes available as a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback. You’ll likely find the hatchback to be more practical for hauling stuff because it has 17.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the seats versus the sedan which gives you 13.7. Folding the 60/40-split rear seats will expand that, but even then it doesn’t come close to the hatchback’s 32.8 cubic feet of space.

On the other hand, you can accommodate up to five people in either version of the Rio. For friends that want to come hang out in the city, there’s plenty of space for everyone instead of crowding into an Uber. I liked that the driver’s seat is height-adjustable and after spending some time stuck in traffic on the Washington, D.C. Beltway, I didn’t feel feel achy or fatigued.

Cloth seats come standard, but if you upgrade, they are swathed in premium Tricot cloth upholstery. Completing the higher end look is a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob. Other nifty offerings include standard satellite radio,  a five-inch touchscreen, a four-speaker audio system, a USB port, air conditioning and power door locks.

As nice as all of this is, it’s worth the extra dough to nab the EX trim. This brings an upgraded UVO infotainment interface, a seven-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Additional features include Bluetooth, a six speaker sound system, two additional USB ports, power windows, cruise control, keyless entry, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and a rear-view camera.

The front-wheel drive Rio comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 130 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment. During my week of testing, the Rio delivered 37 miles per gallon overall.

While we’re on the economical subject, one of the high selling points for my friend was the 2018 Kia Rio’s low price point. For him, getting a car with a base price of $13,900 represented a steal. And, as we all know, finding a bargain in the city can be a difficult proposition.

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