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.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.