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2013 Kia Rio SX Review By Larry Nutson

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2013 Kia Rio SX

2013 Kia Rio SX Make Sure To Put It On Your Short List

by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, New York Bureau
The Auto Channel (DSC_2328)

The 2013 Rio sedan and its sibling Rio 5-door hatchback are the smallest and lowest priced models in the Kia lineup. All-new last year, 2013 brings a few tweaks to the Rio model range.

The value packed, very urban 2013 Kia Rio SX sedan that I drove has standard features such as power-folding side-view mirrors, back-up camera, and handsome 17-inch wheels. With its 138hp, which is class leading, it scoots around the city with ease.

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Available in three trims – LX, EX and SX – the 2013 Rio is powered by a 138hp, 1.6-liter gasoline direct-injection (GDI) four-cylinder with the choice of either a six-speed manual transmission on the LX only, or an efficient six-speed automatic. The GDI engine is a rarity in this segment and the 2013 Rio proved to be very inviting to drive with a nice balance of power and efficiency. EPA ratings for the manual LX are 29 city mpg and 37 highway. The six-speed automatic on the all three trims is rated at 28 city mpg and 36 highway mpg.

In my week of driving, even though a good portion of it was on the highways around Philadelphia, my overall average speed was in the mid-30mph range. With that I achieved around a 29mpg average. Philly is the seventh most congested city in the US with long rush-hour commute times and mid-day slowdowns due to road maintenance. Why can’t all highway maintenance work be done over night?

The fuel tank holds 11.4 gallons. Adequate, and it should get you at least 400 miles down the highway before a fuel stop. Trunk space on the sedan is 13.7cuft whereas the 5-door hatch gives you 15cuft.

The Rio sedan is just a shade under 172 inches long which makes for easy city maneuvering while it still has a pretty decent ride with the 101.2inch wheelbase. Speaking of city-friendly, the standard rear-view camera is a delight to have for parallel parking. And the also-standard power-fold outside mirrors makes it easy to save those mirrors from a passing trash truck while parked on a narrow city street. Or, to fold them in your small city garage, if you should be so lucky to have one.

I should mention here that the Rio 5-door hatchback is even shorter at 159.3 inches and runs on the same wheelbase. With a bit more versatility, in my opinion, with its rear hatch the Rio is an even-better urban car. The SX is fitted with 17-inch wheels whereas the LX and EX have 15s. I noted the turning circle to be 1ft larger at 34.5ft, curb-to-curb, on the SX.

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Climbing in the 2013 Rio drivers and passengers are greeted with a bold and modern cabin, centered on Kia's horizontal three-cylinder instrument panel and a two-tone color scheme intended to emphasize a feeling of spaciousness and comfort. The SX is really loaded with a full contingent of equipment namely, power windows, locks and mirrors, electric power steering, tilt and telescoping steering column, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with SIRIUS Satellite radio, Bluetooth, remote keyless entry, cruise control, fog lights, auto on/off headlights, metal pedals, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, 60/40 split folding rear seat and more. All this for $17,700. To use an oft-used word, amazing.

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My test car had the optional Premium Package, priced at $2350, which brought a navigation system, power tilt/slide sunroof, push button start with smart key, leather seat trim, and heated front seats.

Kia has done a nice job of planning the equipment on each of the three trim levels to provide a choice for virtually everyone’s budget and needs. The Rio LX has a base price of $13,600 and the EX is priced at $16,500.

On the outside, the Rio sedan wears its own interpretations of Kia's signature grille, slimmed down to connect to the dynamic headlamp design. Exhibiting highly sculpted, sloping shoulder lines and wedge-shaped exteriors, the sedan projects an athletic profile intended to convey power and agility. The Rio is fairly handsome and has nice proportions which is often difficult to achieve on a small car.

On the safety side of things there is lots of equipment including six airbags (dual advanced front and front-seat mounted side as well as full-length side curtain), side-impact door beams, height-adjustable front seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions and Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH). Also standard on all Rio trims for increased driver and passenger safety are Electronic Stability Control (ESC), a four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) which coordinates the car's ESC and ABS to help the driver stay in control of the vehicle

New for 2013, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters have been added as standard equipment to the Rio SX. Rio EX models now offer optional ISG technology as part of the Eco Package. Rio is the first non-hybrid vehicle to offer ISG technology to the mass (non-luxury) market, which helps to reduce fuel consumption and improve fuel economy by turning the engine off when the vehicle is not in motion – such as at a stop light or in traffic – and automatically restarting when the driver releases the brake pedal.

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My overall driving impression of the Rio SX is very positive. There is some big car feel to this small car. The fun-to-drive quotient is fairly good. Acceleration is impressive for its 138hp. Whether you be single, or a young couple thinking about the possibility of needing to carry a baby seat, or empty-nesters looking to down size, the Kia Rio SX is worthy of your consideration.

If you should be interested in the Rio 5-door hatchback my review from early last year can be found HERE on The

If you would like to compare the Rio to other vehicles in its compact class you can do the right here on The Auto Channel.

Kia Motors America (KMA) has been honored with a MotorWeek Best Subcompact Car Drivers’ Choice Award for the 2013 Rio at the Chicago Auto Show. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 765 dealers throughout the United States. Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its website –

Larry Nutson