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2018 Kia Rio is a sharp, affordable small-car option Featured

Jun 26, 2018 Hit: 402 Written by 
The 2018 Kia Rio is one of the more impressive subcompact sedans available to carbuyers today.
The 2018 Kia Rio is one of the more impressive subcompact sedans available to carbuyers today. Photo by Matt Myftiu/

Despite what you might have read lately, the fact is that not everyone needs an SUV.

Every car has its purpose and audience, and while subcompacts are far from the biggest segment in the auto world, they do serve a purpose.

Many people don’t have families to lug around, rarely carry passengers in their vehicles and don’t need a lot of cargo space. Others just need something with decent gas mileage to get their to work and back. For these groups of people, something like the Kia Rio, a small and affordable subcompact sedan, is right up their alley.

I recently spent time in a 2018 Rio, and I’m back with a full report on what it has to offer.


Being upfront, I will say this: The Rio is a small vehicle. If you go in expecting that, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re looking for extra-roomy seating or lots of storage room, you’re going to want to look in larger classes (though you can fold down the back seats to increase storage space).

This might work as a second car in many households. The going-to-work car, which sits next to the family SUV in the garage. Or it could be the only car for someone who travels solo more often than not. Even in the subcompact class, competitors have the Rio beat in storage capacity.

The exterior design is nothing that jumps out at you as special, but it’s not unattractive at the same time. The Rio is very low to the ground, pretty wide for the segment and a bit longer on the latest remodel. The Interior design on my test vehicle was surprisingly upscale and plush (leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob, high-quality and comfortable seating materials), and it was an EX trim line, the highest offered on the Rio.

The Rio, by the way, is available as either a hatchback or a sedan.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2018 Kia Rio
  • Price as tested:: $20,225 (starts at $13,900)
  • Best feature:: Affordability, upscale interior
  • Rating:: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Small car buyers looking to get a respectable vehicle for an affordable price



The only engine offered on the 2018 Rio is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder option that is paired with either a 6-speed automatic transmission or a 6-speed manual. Numbers are 130 horsepower and 119 lb.-ft. of torque. The Rio only comes in front-wheel drive.

With those kind of power numbers, you’re not going to get a hot rod. It’s just not realistic. It’s going to take some time to get moving, and the ride will be a bit noisy.
But the good news is that when you engage the Rio’s Sport mode, you can have a slightly more enjoyable ride.


The 2018 Rio features anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, hill-start assist control and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Safety options include auto emergency braking, forward collision warning system, which is helpful, but it is worth noting that some other vehicles in the segment do offer more safety features than the Rio.

Entertainmentwise, you get AM/FM/optional satellite radio, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility plus USB and AUX inputs. On the top level you can get Kia’s UVO eServices infotainment system and its 7-inch touchscreen, which is quite efficient and easy to use for all skill levels, and responds well to voice commands.

Official fuel mileage numbers on the Rio are 28 city/37 highway/32 combined. I averaged about 35 mpg during my time with the vehicle.

Compared to other options in the subcompact segment (Honda Fit, Chevy Sonic, Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta), these numbers are top-notch and near the very top. If your criteria for a subcompact is heavily focused on fuel mileage, the Rio comes through big-time.


My test vehicle was at the high end of the Rio spectrum and came in just over $20,000; base price starts closer to $14K. That’s a pretty nice range, and the Rio is easily one of the most affordable vehicles available today. That alone will be a big selling point.


If you want a reliable and affordable new car to get you where you’re going and don’t need a lot of space, the 2018 Kia Rio is one of the best options available. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

=========== can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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