Pros: Upper-class interior at rock bottom pricing, excellent ride
Cons: Buzzy Engine, smaller interior, not the best fuel consumption.
Brand new for 2018 is Kia’s subcompact Rio5. On to its fourth generation, the Rio has grown up in proportions and looks.
Looks wise, the Rio5 is striking to look at. So much so it won a Reddot award in 2017 for its overall design. More elegant than before, it’s grown up package is now more suitable for everyone rather than just younger buyers.
The front end is more sculpted, headlights are pushed all the way to the edges of the vehicle and a flatter hood adds to the more masculine look.
The headlights have a VW-esque DRL glow around the projector. However, while they are good to look at they don’t provide the best illumination to the ground.
In the back, a set of led taillamps updates the overall look. Sadly it’s only available for the higher end trims.
Overall the vehicle looks great, it’s not the most stylish but it is something that will age well over time.
A quick peek inside and it’s actually really comfortable and nicely styled. It surely doesn’t look like an entry-level sub-compact in here. With soft-touch plastics and high gloss piano black accents it looks more upscale than most of its competitors.
The front seats are leather trimmed, with great support and with heated surfaces it’s rated for those cold Canadian winters.
As for the back seat passengers, there’s plenty of headroom even for 6 footers. However overall interior space is pretty cramped with minimal leg and thigh room.
Behind the rear seats, there’s plenty of room for storage or groceries. The rear seats do fold, however, it’s not flat with the rear load floor thus creating a small bump.
Being the top of the line model, this little Kia has some nice features. Such as this 7″ touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple Carplay. With dedicated buttons on the side of the unit, it’s easy to navigate even while driving. With the base model it’ll get’s a 5″ screen, however, it does not support the smartphone connections other than good ole Bluetooth.
There’s also an automatic climate control system which works well in sensing humidity and turning on defogger when needed.
As always Kia is exceeding expectations, for Canadian Models there’s standard heated seats and steering wheel. And this little Sport button which doesn’t do all that much other than hold on to gears before shifting.
Driving the Rio is surprisingly tossable, the lightweight chassis combined it’s eagerness to move produces a surprising amount of joy. It’s no sports car by any means, but it has grown a lot in the past years to make it more enjoyable for the driver. And just look at that impressive interior! In the twisties, the Rio does push towards understeer which is to be expected but at the end, it’s no Fiesta nor the eager Honda Fit.
With the tech package on this top-tier model, it also includes Autonomous Emergency Braking, UVO, Navigation System and a Sunroof.
Powering the little Rio is a 1.6L 4 Cylinder engine producing a whopping 130hp and 119lb-ft of torque, it’s able to move the Rio generously. Don’t expect blazing speeds here, it’s designed to simply move the vehicle and it’s occupants. The 6-speed automatic works well however with minimal power a CVT transmission similar to what most automakers use in their sub-compact would make more sense. Sadly the manual is only available on the base model.
With mostly City driving it’s easy to average around 8.8L/100km in Vancouver’s traffic. Slightly worse than the advertised 8.5 City and 6.4 on the highway. Being such a small engine and a lightweight chassis, it’s sad to see how much fuel this little Rio uses comparing to the likes of it’s competitors.
Overall the Rio5 is a pleasant vehicle to drive. It’s more mature than the previous Rio, and with an amazing interior, it’s very likable. However this EX Tech trim with all the additions adds up to $23,745. Which is well into the Forte’s range and at that price the value isn’t as enticing. A more balanced package would be the EX trim, at $20,945 you can easily save a few thousand and still get most of the creature comforts that are needed. In terms of value comparing to the Fit or even the Versa it’s nowhere close, and with a smaller and less flexible interior, it’s hard to recommend. But for those who are seeking for something a bit more grown up the Rio5 does shine above others.