Drive Away 2Day

2014 Kia Rio : Current Models

The 2014 Kia Rio might be yet another face in a sea of small cars, but it has a few qualities that lift it above the fray: Euro-goodness on the outside; a clean, point-perfect interior; and an efficient, agreeable powertrain.

If we had to pick one reason why we're drawn back to the Rio--compared to other budget-priced small cars, that is--it's the snappy styling on the outside. For sure, the five-door hatchback has more swagger than the four-door sedan, but the sedan isn't homely in its subcompact space, and that's saying something. As good as it gets outside, the Rio's interior seems even better: some throwback details look to the best of the 1980s econoboxes, down to the toggle switches for climate controls, but but it's all better in both form and function, with some versions including a big LCD touch screen.

The 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter in-line direct-injection four-cylinder engine, which is indeed the same engine as in the similar Hyundai Accent, powers the Rio with just enough gusto. It revs smoothly up its powerband and is mostly muted, and you'll find either the six-speed manual or six-speed automatic to be an equally good ways to manage how the power gets to the wheels. Overall, the Rio stays very composed when driven either gently or at whatever the engine can deliver. It handles remarkably well for a small, inexpensive hatchback with a basic strut and torsion-beam suspension and a short wheelbase.

The interior is a little tighter on space than other subcompacts, but pleasing trims and materials and reasonably good cabin refinement keep it more cheerful than the other choices. By the numbers, the Rio sports a 101.2-inch wheelbase, has an overall length of about 160 inches, and offers up a cargo area of 15 cubic feet (or 13.7 cubic feet in the trunk, for sedan models). Good front seats, with relatively long bottom cushions cushions for the class and long seat travel should help bring enough comfort for the commute. The sporty Rio SX models get more seat bolstering--and it's mild enough here where no one's really going to object to the addition. In back, it's definitely more confining than in the Honda Fit, or even the Versa Note; with the front seats near the back of their travel (for an average-to-taller driver) you won't have any rear knee or foot space to space in back; and headroom is on the tight side.

In safety, the 2014 Rio isn't all cheers, but it looks squarely middle-of-the-road compared to other models in this class, when considering the crash-test ratings it's been given, and its level of standard equipment. It's a four-star performer in federal testing, and the usual dual front, side, and curtain airbags are standard, as are anti-lock brakes and stability control, as well as hill-start assist. A rearview camera is an option--and also recommended, since the five-door Rio has some notable blind spots at the rear pillars.

Even in its base editions, the 2014 Kia Rio offers a lot of features for the money. Base Rio LX sedans and hatchbacks start at around $15,000 and include air conditioning, a USB port, and satellite radio. On hatchbacks you also get 15-inch wheels, a rear spoiler standard, tilt steering, steering-wheel audio controls, and split-folding rear seatbacks. Features included in the sporty Rio SX versions include 17-inch wheels, sport suspension tuning, larger front brakes, fog lamps, and power-folding heated side mirrors, and LED taillamp and headlamp accents; options on the SX include a navigation system (that replaces the UVO system), pushbutton start, leather seats, heated front seats, and a sunroof.

On Styling
Like much of the current Kia lineup (except for the one-of-a-kind Soul), the 2014 Rio clearly draws its design inspiration from Europe, not Korea. Since the arrival of design director Peter Schreyer to the brand a few years ago, Kia has thrown away the bubbly, bland shapes and generic look of previous models, and pushed ahead with crisp, well-proportioned cars that look influenced collectively by everything that does well on the Continent.

The Rio is a great example of that--although the five-door hatchback stands out as a purer, better-conceived design than the five-door.

For either body style, the neat contrasting grille, swept-back headlights, and rounded rear end altogether call out to classic hot-hatch lines without getting too carried away. In an about-face from the brand's recent history, it's clean, perky, and very visually interesting. As for the sedan, it's a bit tall and proportionally challenged, as you might guess for a subcompact, but it does a better job of making the the shape work in such an abbreviated space.

Inside, the Rio gets it right in most ways. The cockpit's nicely finished dash hashes together 1980s econobox chic with airplane-style toggle switches, but it's refreshingly distinctive, sporty, and honest, in contrast to small-car interiors that make too much effort to mimick large-sedan or luxury cabins. A mid-size LCD screen, soft-touch panels on most trims, and simple, contrasting finished add up to a look that combined the glory days of Honda with a Euro twist.

On Performance
The Kia Rio is by no means sluggish or listless, but it doesn't push the performance envelope quite as far as the Euro-themed exterior suggests.

The 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter in-line direct-injection four-cylinder engine, which is indeed the same engine as in the similar Hyundai Accent, powers the Rio with plenty of gusto. It revs smoothly up its powerband and is mostly muted, and you'll find either the six-speed manual or six-speed automatic to be an equally good ways to manage how the power gets to the wheels. The automatic has no performance shift modes, but its gears are well-spaced. However with either transmission you'll contend with relatively slow acceleration times of about ten seconds to 60 mph.

Overall, the Rio stays very composed when driven either gently or at whatever the engine can deliver. There's none of the Sonic's cheerful scrabble, and the steering isn't as nicely weighted or communicative as that of the Ford Fiesta, but it handles remarkably well for a small, inexpensive hatchback with a basic strut and torsion-beam suspension and a short wheelbase.

Sportier (mostly in appearance) Rio SX models do add a little more steering heft and are perhaps slightly harder riding due to tires and wheels. For the most part otherwise, the 2014 Rio rides comfortably, without the bobbing, bouncy, harsh aspects of small-car ride quality.

On Quality
The 2014 Kia Rio has an interior that's a little tighter on space than other models in its subcompact class; but pleasing trims and materials and reasonably good cabin refinement keep it more cheerful than the typical cost-conscious hatchback or sedan.

The Rio has a more sloped roofline, which puts it just behind the related Hyundai Accent in official interior space. If you want to make more of cargo versatility, the Honda Fit is still a far better pick, but compared to most other small-car picks, it's a competitive package.

By the numbers, the Rio sports a 101.2-inch wheelbase, has an overall length of about 160 inches, and offers up a cargo area of 15 cubic feet (or 13.7 cubic feet, for trunked sedan models). It's significantly larger than the previous model.

None of the fundamentals are missing. Good front seats, with relatively long bottom cushions cushions for the class and long seat travel should help bring enough comfort for the commute. The sporty Rio SX models get more seat bolstering--and it's mild enough here where no one's really going to object to the addition.

In back, it's definitely more confining than in the Honda Fit, or even the Versa Note; with the front seats near the back of their travel (for an average-to-taller driver) you won't have any rear knee or foot space to space in back; and headroom is on the tight side.

Cargo space is also no better than you'd expect for a subcompact--although big-box boxes and travel bags do fit nicely within the squared-off hold, whether we're talking about the hatch or the sedan.

On Safety
The 2014 Kia Rio looks squarely middle-of-the-road in safety, compared to other models in this class, when considering the crash-test ratings it's been given, and its level of standard equipment.

The usual dual front, side, and curtain airbags are standard, as are anti-lock brakes and stability control, as well as hill-start assist. Bluetooth is available, and a feature we recommend for safer driving. A rearview camera is an option--and also recommended, since the five-door Rio has some notable blind spots at the rear pillars.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing, the Rio has earned a four-star rating overall, with four and five stars in frontal and side impact testing, respectively. And while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) hasn't issued results in most categories of testing--including the tough new small overlap frontal impact test--it's given its top 'good' rating to the Rio for frontal impact protection.

The federal testing did include a few cautionary notes. During side impact testing, they noted intrusion at the left rear door, in which the interior door panel struck the torso of the rear passenger dummy--to a level at which it could have resulted in thoracic injury.

On Features
Even in its base editions, the 2014 Kia Rio offers a lot of features for the money.

Base Rio LX sedans and hatchbacks start at around $15,000 and include air conditioning, a USB port, and satellite radio. On hatchbacks you also get 15-inch wheels, a rear spoiler standard, tilt steering, steering-wheel audio controls, and split-folding rear seatbacks.

If you want a manual gearbox, you'll have to stick with the base LX--one thing that some shoppers won't like about the limited ways you can get a Rio. The automatic is a $1200 option on either Rio LX.

In the middle of the lineup, the Rio EX five-door hatchback adds tilt/telescoping steering, cruise control, Bluetooth, and power windows, locks and mirrors.

The sporty SX model is the only version to come standard with Kia's UVO, which includes Microsoft-powered voice controls for phone and audio. You can option up to that system on the EX, and otherwise options on the SX include a navigation system (that replaces the UVO system), pushbutton start, leather seats, heated front seats, and a sunroof.

Other features included in Rio SX versions include 17-inch wheels, sport suspension tuning, larger front brakes, fog lamps, and power-folding heated side mirrors, and LED taillamp and headlamp accents.


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Sources : 2014 Kia Rio Photo | 2014 Kia Rio Article | 2014 Kia Rio Photo 2 | 2014 Kia Rio Interior Photo | 2014 Kia Rio Photo 3

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