Kia Rio: A Hip Hatchback
The Car: 2012 Kia Rios 5-Door SX
The Skinny: Good cars come in all shapes and sizes — the Kia Rio SX happens to be one of them. I drove the Rio throughout the streets of New York, where small cars are in heaven. If I were 28 again and buying a new car, a hatchback is ideal for the single ladie’s lifestyle. When the Kia Rio first came to market in 2000, I wouldn’t have given it a second glance. Three generations later, Kia has considerably upped its style game, and maintained it’s attracted $14k price tag — the cost of options on many luxury brands this day. Rio is an excellent diet plan.
The Looks: Think designer series for H & M — the Kia Rio has a pleasing exterior physique that makes people say, “Where’d you get that?’ or “What is that?” The hatchback is a winner on the streets — the contours of the a and b pillar (the middle segments of the car) taper off into a lifted grille that gives the shape a lithe look. The electric blue test car I had was a bit hi-gloss — a simple white car is best suited to doing the Rio’s handsome curves justice.
Inside: The Kia Rio has a simple, clean design that is aligned with the lean design language of the exterior. This is where the SX, the souped-up edition, delivers the kicker with heated leather seats, navigation, iPod-jakcs, , a sunroof, automatic headlights, and a rear-view backup camera. Is a back-up camera necessary for such a small car? I’d cut that option, unless you’re brand new to parallel parking.
The Nuts & Bolts: A 1.6 liter, four-cylinder, 138-horsepower engine, which goes from 0 to 60 in 9.7 seconds. The power is not overwhelming, but doesn’t need to be for this sprite-like city car. Where these engine specs come together in the Rio’s favor is in 30 mpg in city and 40, yes 40 mpg, on the highway — big fuel economy numbers for this little car. The Eco button makes the engine pokier to the lead foot, but in a city like New York, where throttle saves you from swerving taxi, better left un-clicked.
The Moves: Yes, I was surprised that the Rio has moves. It’s tight chassis boded well on the BQE, where speed isn’t essential, but driving dynamics are to survive the rat race across the boroughs.
Price: The hatchback starts at $14,350.