The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2018 Kia Rio Review By Larry Nutson

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

2018 Kia Rio
Sedan or Hatchback (You pays yer money you takes your choice)

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

My last drive in a Kia Rio was about four years ago. The all-new 2018 made its U.S. debut at the New York Auto Show this past spring. I thought that crowded and traffic-clogged New York City seemed to be an appropriate location for the Rio’s debut since this subcompact offering from Kia would be right at home with its nimble size and athletic proportions.

The 2018 Rio is all-new and not unlike many other vehicle-remakes these days it’s longer, lower and wider, although not by much. A half-inch here and a half-inch there can make for much more comfort as well as improved appearance.

The five-passenger Rio is offered as a 4-door sedan and a 5-door hatchback. I’m personally a fan of hatchback body styles as they offer more versatility for cargo carrying and yet have a shorter overall length making for easy maneuvering.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Three trims are offered in both body styles—LX, S and EX. All are powered by a 130-horsepower 1.6-L four-cylinder that’s been improved from the previous model for lower fuel consumption.

The engine drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic, and a six-speed manual is available only on the lowest-priced LX trim.

EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings for the automatic in both body styles are 32 mpg combined with 28 city mpg and 37 highway mpg. The LX with manual transmission has a 1-mpg better city rating and the same highway rating.

With a noticeable Euro-look on the outside, the Rio’s interior is roomy and comfortable. More modern with higher quality materials, the interior offers good passenger comfort and a nicely laid-out instrument panel.

The sedan’s trunk holds 13.7 cubic feet and the 5-door hatchback’s can grow from 17.4 cubic feet to 32.8 cubic feet with the seats folded down.

Sedan pricing starts at $13,900 and the 5-door hatchback starts at $14,200.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

For my test drive I was in the top-of-the-line 5-door EX priced at $18,700.

Even though the Rio 5-door hatchback is perfectly suited for in-city, urban driving with its compact exterior, that doesn’t mean it’s any slouch out on the open highway. On a short, 100-mile overnight road trip together with a colleague we both thought the interior to be quite comfortable. The overall cabin noise level at highway cruising speeds didn’t interfere with our conversation. Cruising at interstate speeds the Rio got 39-40 mpg, easily beating the EPA rating.

With the Rio on an all-new platform engineers were able to design a more-solid structure making use of advanced high strength steel for better durability and collision performance. Torsional stiffness is increased for improved handling and ride quality. For reduced noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), the Rio uses body sealing and bonding adhesives to dampen sound pathways.

A new fully-independent MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear axle along with spring and damper tuning all make for improved ride and handling making the Rio more compliant and comfortable. 

The top EX trim comes with forward collision warning and automatic forward emergency braking. Although not yet confirmed Kia expects an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick designation and a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

A 7-inch touchscreen is well placed in the center of the instrument panel allowing access to UVO3 voice recognition, Apple and Android smart phone integration as well as the six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth hands-free functionality, and a rear-view camera system. The EX media test car was nicely appointed with the optional red leather interior accent trim.

With three trim levels and two body styles, the new 2018 Rio is well positioned in the market to meet the needs of many. Whether it be a highway commute from the suburbs to your workplace, a short drive to connect with public transportation or simply for weekend use by city-dwellers, any configuration of the 2018 Rio can meet those needs.

More information and detailed specifications on the 2018 Kia Rio can be found at here in the <>Kia Research and Buyers Guide or

Noteworthy is Kia’s industry-leading 10-year or 100,000-mile warranty program that consists of: 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, 5-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty, 5-year/100,000-mile limited anti-perforation warranty, and 5-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan.

I was pleased with the overall performance and comfort of the EX 5-door I drove. I liked the Rio with its nicely proportioned exterior and the lively red trim on the interior added a sporty look. Fuel consumption was low and the engine delivered good punch while also not being too buzzy at speed.

Although Kia is youth oriented, this little Rio hatchback would just as well make a perfect city car for a retired empty-nester couple who have downsized and re-urbanized.

© 2017 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

The Most In-Depth Independent Kia Vehicle Shopper's Research - Anywhere!