2018 Kia Rio Review , Specifications , Price and Availability

2018 Kia Rio Review , Specifications , Price and Availability

edmunds expert review

Available as a hatchback or sedan and in three, easy-to-understand trim levels, the redesigned 2018 Kia Rio is a subcompact car that is simple yet sophisticated. On the outside, it has an all-new look that is grown-up and stylish. On the inside, the Rio is well-assembled and is relatively spacious considering its size.

Under the hood, the Rio gets a reworked version of Kia’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. It has slightly less power compared to last year (130 horsepower versus last year’s 138), but Kia says it decided to trade peak power for more usable power, meaning that the Rio feels stronger at the lower engine speeds drivers encounter most often.

The inside also has been upgraded, and while hard plastics still abound, it feels very solidly built. The redesigned dash and gauge cluster manage to look upscale as well, so even though the Rio is a budget-priced car, it doesn’t feel cheap. We think the interior presents itself better than those of cars costing thousands more.

Overall, we’re impressed with this little Kia. If you’re in the market for a subcompact sedan or hatchback, the 2018 Kia Rio is absolutely worth checking out.

what’s new

The 2018 Kia Rio has been completely redesigned.

we recommend

While it might seem a bit counterintuitive to recommend the top trim of an entry-level car like the 2018 Kia Rio, we think the Rio EX is simply the most desirable of the bunch. The base LX and midlevel S are certainly fine, but the EX gets Kia’s Uvo infotainment system, a 7-inch center screen, and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These features are worth the extra money. Additionally, the EX gets upgraded safety equipment in the form of a forward collision warning system with automatic braking.

trim levels & features

The subcompact 2018 Kia Rio is available as either a sedan or a four-door hatchback. Both the hatchback and sedan are sold in three different trim levels: base LX, midlevel S and top-level EX.

For the base LX, standard features include a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine (130 horsepower, 119 pound-feet of torque), a six-speed manual transmission (a six-speed automatic is an available option), 15-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-only steering wheel, a trip computer, a rearview camera, and a four-speaker sound system with a 5-inch display, satellite radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio input jack.

The midlevel Rio S adds to the standard equipment with keyless entry, heated power mirrors, power windows, cruise control, map lights, a sliding center console armrest and storage area, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, an extra USB port (charging only), a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker audio system.

The top-of-the-line EX includes the Rio S’ standard equipment and adds 15-inch alloy wheels, a chrome grille surround, foglights, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a forward collision warning system with automatic braking, upgraded cloth upholstery, dual illuminated vanity mirrors and an upgraded 7-inch center display with Kia’s Uvo infotainment system (which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). The EX’s Launch Edition package adds red interior trim and partial leather accents.

trim tested

Edmunds has not yet performed a full test of this vehicle, but we have limited experience with an early top-of-the-line EX model. The following is our first take on what’s significant about it and what you can expect.

For additional commentary, check out our 2018 Kia Rio first drive article.

driving

A retuned suspension and a little extra heft mean the 2018 Rio feels more substantial on the highway. It’s also nimble and relatively sporty around corners. The standard 1.6-liter engine is actually down on power this year, but Kia reports that acceleration times have improved.

comfort

The new suspension is on the firm side, but it feels planted rather than harsh. Headroom and legroom in the Rio are acceptable, allowing a 6-footer to sit comfortably in the front or the rear but not both if the front seat is extended. Taller drivers will appreciate the telescoping wheel’s range.

interior

There is still a lot of hard plastic inside the 2018 Rio, but it’s not cheap or poorly constructed. The steering wheel feels substantial in your hands. And the top-level EX offers some key features, including Kia’s Uvo infotainment system, that make the upgrade worthwhile.

utility

The hatchback offers more utility, with 17.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats or 32.8 cubes if you fold them down. The sedan offers 13.7 cubes in the trunk. Overall, these are average figures for the class, though the redesigned suspension allows for a wider load floor.

technology

The standard 5-inch center screen in the new Rio is fine, but we recommend getting the EX trim level, which comes with the upgraded 7-inch touchscreen and Kia’s user-friendly Uvo system. Some competitors offer more driver aids and active safety features across more trim levels.

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