BLAME IT ON THE RIO
2013 Kia Rio5 SX
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Wed, Jul 31, 2013
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Story and pictures by Doug Stokes Kias and their kissin’ cousin Hyundais have been hailed by many (including this reviewer) as some of best, all-time, automotive bargains. And I’d go along with that for the most part, but (heard that coming right?) I never really felt totally comfortable with this car. Could it be that the Rio5 had a version of just about every trick accessory in the book aboard and yet it was priced at eighteen, six-fifty? Was there too much of too much? Honestly there was nothing really wrong here. I’m not Jay Leno so I don’t think that a stick shift is needed to show driving prowess, and although this 6-speed was fun (about 30 percent of the time) a good automatic (even with this smallish 1.6 liter engine) would have been far more convenient on freeway watch. It took a bit of time for me to get comfortable (perhaps “used to” would be a better way to put it) with the sort of rubbery feel of the steering. This model had the Sport-Tuned Suspension and electric power steering, but it just did not seem to be tuned to my needs. Near.
This car also had every darn dynamic vehicle control system known to modern man, and there is a (huge) difference in the way that different manufacturers source and tune their Traction Control System (TCS), Electronic Stability Control ( ESC), and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM). Some systems intrude, some are transparent. This combo makes this car feel springy (to me). Near the end of my week with this car, I got perfectly comfortable with the handling, but this was not one of those “right from the first turn of the wheel” deals. I can be very positive about the brakes on the Rio—discs all the way around. This car will slow down smartly and with very little drama when asked. I sure liked that part. On the styling front, the Rio is cute, perky and the size will work okay for four moderately-sized adults. The rear seats are good (once that you’re inside) but the door size is small and I had some trouble getting my 10-and-a-half size feet in and out the door easily.
This may be the car that finally blows those silly little “string of pearl” (my word for it … likely there’s a six-dollar German word for it) chains of cute, sparkly LEDs in the lower part of headlight surrounds. Now that a $17,900.00 car has the darn things, let’s let the whole deal go the way of talking cars (“the door is ajar”) , Nehru jackets (except for spy movie bad guys of course). * and Vogue Tyres. It may be that my ill-defined discontent with this car really is centered on the steering wheel. Normally I like to know how many miles the car I’m driving thinks that it’ll go until we run out of gasoline. I have fun trying to beat the car’s best guess on when we’ll run out of fuel. But this car has an overly large information circle right in the center of the speedo. It’s way too nanny state—a classic case of too much information here. Good news, however, comes in the way of the fuel mileage number that your favorite uncle (Sam) says this one will average: 32 miles per gallon (the old number pairing is 37 highway/29 city). That’s good economy in anyone’s book. While we’re talking government stuff, all but one of the five safety ratings on the Kia Rio are rated at 4 (out of 5), and the fifth one is a full 5 out of 5. We don’t buy cars to crash, but it’s nice to know that a particular car won’t do an “el foldo” in the wrong places at the wrong time.
This is the car with the 10 year/10,000 mile (limited powertrain warranty) that makes it a very attractive buy at a very low price. The window sticker shows no (zero) additional installed equipment and a bottom line (even after a ding of $750 for “inland freight and handling”) of $18,650. Again, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that we usually only see on machines starting a roughly double this Rio’s MSRP: push-button start (and stop), SIRIUS satellite radio with three free months of service (to get the hook set good and deep), and a proximity key that works just like the ones we only saw on $50K-and-up luxo-cars only a few short years ago. Everything is part of the package. I usually have the toughest time writing about a car that I’ve fallen in love with, and obviously that is not the case here. So what I’m going to suggest that any of you who are reading this and become frustrated with the above, head over to your nearest Kia emporium, show the sales manager a printout of this review, thrown down a few curse words (about this guy who writes these cockamamie car reviews), ask to check one of these machines out for a test drive, and send us back their re-write of my above review. - DS
SIDEBAR COMMENT Doug’s less-than-stellar review of the Rio may come as a surprise, given the glowing review he had of the Hyundai Accent—which shares its platform with the Rio (see LA Car’s Driving With An Accent). The tested Accent, however, was several thousand dollars less than the subject Rio—and what seems like a bargain at one price, is somewhat less so when the asking price starts to creep upward. As often is the case, the better bargains are had when resisting the temptation to pile it on with the options. - RN For more information about Kia products, go to kiausa.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2013 Kia Rio5 SX Price: $13,800 (base LX) $17,900 (base SX) $18,650 (as tested) EPA mileage estimates (miles per gallon): 29 city/37 highway/32 combined Engine: 1.8-liter gas direct injection (GDI) DOHC four-in-line with dual continuously variable valve timing Horsepower: 138 at 6300 rpm Torque: 123 pound-feet at 4850 rpm Transmission: 6-speed manual (automatic with SHIFTRONIC® sequential manual mode optional) Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Steering: Power-assisted rack and pinion Suspension: MacPherson strut front independent suspension with stabilizer bar and torsion beam rear suspension Brakes: Ventilated front discs and solid rear discs, ABS, with electronic brake force distribution, and brake assist Wheels and tires: 16-inch alloy wheels with 195/50R-16 tires Dimensions Overall length: 159.3 inches Overall width: 67.7 inches Overall height: 57.3 inches Curb weight (lbs.): 2410 pounds