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Heels on Wheels - 2012 Kia Rio 5-door Review


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2012 Kia Rio5

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE RIO VEHICLE
The Kia Rio, available as a sedan or five-door hatchback (Rio5), makes a mark in every desirable compact car category with the 2012 models that offer all-new fuel-saving technologies, class-leading horsepower, sporty designs, connectivity technology and an affordable price.

I drove a 2012 Kia Rio5 with the 1.6-liter Gasoline Direct Injection four-cylinder engine delivering 138 horsepower mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with an Active Eco System and sport-tuned suspension. Available in there trims – the base LX, EX and LX – my LX trim came with the following standard equipment: seventeen-inch wheels, fog lamps, dual chrome exhaust tips, a sport-tuned suspension, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a voice-activated infotainment system with rear camera display. Total vehicle price came to $17,700.

The influx of sporty compact redesigns on the market – the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Sonic come to mind – are tempting alternatives to the Rio5, as they also come close (or surpass) new compact car numbers, defined as 30 miles-per-gallon city and 40 highway, along with a base price under $15k for the hatchback versions.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Rio5 features a modern cabin with amble legroom and cargo space, and impressive standard audio features at the base LX level that includes steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a CD system, XM Radio, and auxiliary and USB input jacks. The streamlined center stack layout, using a new style of tab buttons for the most popular commands, most accurately showcase Kia’s dedication to offering consumers up-to-date technology no matter the size or price of the car. A navigation system and moonroof are found on the optional Premium Package.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has only tested frontal crash for the Kia with a rating of “Good” – currently only the 2012 Forte and Soul models are recommended Top Safety Picks for small Kia cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found the Rio to earn four out of five stars for overall protection.

Cost Issues: The base Kia Rio5 starts at $13,600 with manual transmission and beats the competition, as the base Chevrolet Sonic starts at $14,765 and the base Ford Fiesta at $14,100. Even fully loaded, the Kia Rio5 is going to stay under $20k.

Activity & Performance Ability: While the new direct-injection engine delivers appropriate punch and acceleration response time, with it comes noise. Aiding this newfound zip is the engine weight dropping a whole 29 pounds. The sportier SX trim turns this gas-sipping companion both into a visual statement and more aggressive vehicle.

The Green Concern: The Kia Rio5 offers best-in-class fuel economy at 30 miles-per-gallon city and 40 highway. The Chevrolet Sonic’s 138-horspower 1.4-liter hits practically the same numbers at 29 miles-per-gallon city and 40 highway, while the Ford Fiesta’s 120-horsepower 1.6-liter falls a little short at 26 miles-per-gallon city and 39 highway.

FINAL PARTING WORDS Completely redesigned, Kia put much thought into the 2012 Rio5 hatchback to achieve the right blend of agility, efficiency and value in order to both please consumers and outperform the compact car competition.

©2012 Katrina Ramser