Gone are the days when automakers punished buyers for not affording expensive models. In the past buyers on a budget would end up with models with a down-to-earth exterior design and plain cabins with plenty of cheap plastics. Things like infotainment systems, air conditioning were never offered even as options in these low-cost models. However, recently different automakers have been making these features standard for these models. It seems automakers have realized that even these customers are important hence the more goodies. One such automaker is Kia; Kia has consistently strived to upgrade the 2018 Kia Rio to make it more attractive to buyers. Despite it being the automaker’s cheapest model, it is the most important. The Rio is Kia’s bestselling car across the globe and thus it means a lot to the automaker.
2018 Kia Rio Exterior
The 2018 Kia Rio is offered in both 5-door hatchback and 4-door sedan bodies. Kia has improved the design of the Rio and I think the 2018 model will be among the funkiest in the segment, particularly for the hatchback. The new Rio has an upright front fascia as well as a prosaic shoulder line.
Between the headlights is a plastic strip painted in black which simulates a conservative grille opening. The sides feature an aggressive character line while side-mirrors have been relocated to the A-pillars from the doors as is the case on the 2017 Kia Rio. The rear fascia continues almost unchanged for both the hatch and the sedan compared to the current Rio.
In a bid to catch the attention of young buyers, Kia has hooked up the Rio with several features that can rival some models that cost over $20,000. Air conditioning, touch-screen infotainment system and power door locks are among a list of several features offered as standard. In some markets, the model will be offered with heated front seats as well as a heated steering wheel wrapped in leather as standard.
All models feature a 7.0-inch touch-screen display as well as the UVO3 infotainment system with voice recognition. The system integrates Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto. The system also features the UVO eServices telematics which enables the car to start remotely via a website or app as well as show the location of the car in case one forgets where he/she parked it. The Rio can also send health report of the vehicle to the owner as well as onboard diagnostics that help one budget for future repairs and maintenance. The UVO telmatics system also provides roadside assistance and live emergency support. All these services are free for the first five years which is awesome considering the low-cost positioning of the car. Other features include satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity as well as a rearview camera.
Autonomous emergency braking is standard on the EX trim.
Space is decent but a bit tight for the rear passengers. Kia says that the 2018 Kia Rio offers 32.8 cubic feet of space compared to the outgoing model’s 47.1 cubic feet of space. This is however due to Kia’s change of how it measures cargo space rather than an actual decrease in space. The automaker says that the new measurement system reflects a more real-world space usage.
Engine and performance
In North America, the Kia is powered by a 1.6 L, inline-4 good for 130 hp and 119 lb-ft of torque, a decrease by 8 hp as well as 4lb-ft of torque compared to the outgoing model. The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual gearbox. The models are offered in front-wheel drive. The engine returns 28 mpg and 37 mpg on city and highway drives respectively compared to the outgoing model’s 27 mpg city and 36 mpg highway rating. In other markets, the model is available with a 1.4 L, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel, a turbocharged 1.0 L, 3-cylinder gasoline mill as well as a naturally aspirated 1.2 L, 4-cylinder engine.
Price and release date
The 2018 Kia Rio is much cheaper than the outgoing variant. The base LX sedan featuring a 6-speed manual system starts at $14,795 while the same model with a 6-speed automatic system fetches $15,885. Moving over to the 5-door hatch, the base model with a 6-speed automatic transmission costs $16,185 and $15,095 with a manual gearbox. All prices are inclusive of destination charges. Deliveries into Kia dealerships start this October.
Key rivals of the Kia Rio include the Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent, Chevrolet Sonic and Honda Fit.