• Contemporary Kia: 2018 Rio Sees Host of Updates for Its Next Generation [Review]


    2018 Rio
    [Photo: Kia]

    The redesigned 2018 fourth-generation Kia Rio sedan and hatchback delivers more than you might expect from a subcompact economy car. The fourth-generation 2018 Kia has an all-new platform and sharper styling. It’s also longer, lower and wider. One wonders if automakers will ever get away from the “longer, lower, wider” theme. That was a big auto selling point starting in the 1950s.

    The 2018 Rio: What’s new?

    Not that Kia went overboard with that theme because the new Rio’s wheelbase is just up to 101.6 inches from 101.2 inches. It’s 160 inches long, only up from 159.4 inches. Still, it’s a little lower and wider to give it, as Kia puts it, “a more balanced and athletic stance.” A well-creased shoulder line runs from front to back, stretching the car’s appearance to give it a sleeker and more substance look than, as Kia says, “what’s currently found in the subcompact segment.” The point is, you don’t look as if you’re pulling a hair-shirt, poor-boy economy car up to a restaurant. You can even get optional $195 Black Pearl paint.

    The new Rio comes as a four-door sedan and roomier four-door hatchback and is lively, with good city and highway acceleration. That’s partly because the base $13,900 Rio LX only weighs 2,648 pounds with a six-speed manual transmission, which gives it sporty flair but is only offered for the LX. An LX with the six-speed automatic is $14,990. Rio models with the automatic weigh 2,714 pounds. There’s also a $16,100 mid-range S model and the $18,400 EX model I drove.

    The interior is more modern and upscale with an improved instrument panel and upgraded materials. I found my test top-line Rio EX hatchback’s 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system easy to use. There are also handy, large manual dashboard climate controls.

    The redesigned front seats have more cushion and padding, but should provide more side support. Passengers sitting behind a tall driver will want more knee room. Moreover, the rear seat should provide more thigh support. Cabin storage areas are average. However, the console has a bi-level tray to better accommodate portable devices such as smartphones and small tablets.

    2018 Rio
    2018 Rio interior [Photo: Kia]

    Comfort, Convenience and Safety

    My test 2018 Rio EX’s interior looked especially good because it had the $500 optional “Launch Edition” package. For that extra money, you get red accent leather seat and interior trim.

    Standard EX features include air conditioning, power window, door locks and outside mirrors, telescopic steering column, multi-adjustable driver’s seat, remote keyless entry, split/folding 60/40 rear seats, AM/FM/MP3, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

    Safety features include lots of air bags, a rear camera, autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning system.

    Estimated fuel economy is 29 city MPG and 37 on highways with the manual transmission. Even if you don’t row your own, you still get 28 City/37 Highway with the efficient automatic. It has a responsive manual-shift feature via the console-shift lever. Only 87-octane gasoline is needed. Fuel tank capacity is 11.9 gallons with either transmission.

    The sedan has 13.7 cubic feet of cargo room, and the hatchback has 17.4 cubic feet feet of such space. With the 60/40 split-folding rear seats down, the hatchback provides an impressive 32.8 cubic feet with a low, flat cargo floor. The hatch has a deep indented area to help close it without getting hands dirty on outside hatch.

    2018 Rio [Photo: Kia]

    Performance

    The front-drive 2018 Rio has the mechanical goods to back up its new look. Powering the car is a 1.6-liter, 130 horsepower four-cylinder with 119 lb-ft of torque. It has an advanced, high-pressure fuel system with direct injection, variable intake system, low-friction oil seals and even piston cooling-jets. Once upon a time, you could only find those features in very high-performance cars. Moreover, it only emits a mild drone under hard acceleration.

    My test car handled curves with good stability, thanks party to traction and electronic stability controls and a vehicle stability management system. The steering was quick but a little heavy. Tire pressures on the low side may have partly accounted for that. (Below-zero Chicago weather prevented me from getting pressures just right.) The ride was supple, thanks partly to a revised spring and damper setup for a more complaint and comfortable ride, although rough pavement brought out slight body bounce.

    The brake pedal had a progressive feel, and the anti-lock brakes stopped the car with no drama, even on icy pavement. Brakes are all disc for the EX, but they are front disc/rear drum for the other Rio versions.

    2018 Rio
    2018 Rio [Photo: Kia]

    TFLcar’s Take

    The 2018 Kia Rio sports a modern, more upscale interior that makes it feel like a more expensive car than it is. It’s competent and stable, and manages to return pretty good fuel economy in the process. My test Kia Rio had solid construction and nice paint, although I wished the car’s rather neutral Urban Gray paint had been replaced by the more elegant Black Pearl.

    For a review of the hatchback Kia Rio, watch Roman’s video review below. Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow on YouTube for more videos featuring your favorite new models!

     

    SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Kia Rio EX

    On Sale: Now
    Base MSRP: $13,900
    Price as Tested: $18,700
    Engine: 1.6-liter, direct-injected inline-4
    Drivetrain (Layout): Front engine, front-wheel drive
    Horsepower: 130 hp @ 6,300 RPM
    Torque: 119 lb-ft @ 4,850 RPM
    Transmission: Six-speed automatic
    Suspension: Front: MacPherson strut

    Rear: Coupled torsion beam axle

    Brakes: Front: 11.0-inch ventilated front discs

    Rear: 10.3-inch solid rear discs

    Tires: Kumho Solus TA31 P185/65 R15 86T
    Fuel capacity: 11.9 gallons
    Fuel economy (EPA): 28 City/37 Highway/32 Combined MPG

    Dimensions:

    Wheelbase: 101.6 inches
    Length:  172.6 inches
    Width: 67.9 inches
    Height:  57.1 inches
    Turning Circle: 33.46 feet
    Curb Weight: 2,714 pounds

    Dan Jedlicka
    Dan Jedlicka
    Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times–far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.’s MSN Autos Internet site from January 1996 to June 2008.For more of Dan’s thoughtful and insightful reviews please visit his website, www.danjedlicka.com.
    http://www.danjedlicka.com
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