As Kia’s subcompact car, the Rio has been in the line up for almost 13 years with 2 redesigns before its current sport-styled model. This one has been around since model year 2011. The Rio becomes the little car that could when you take into consideration the competitiveness of its target market; competing with cars such as the Mazda 2, Honda Fit, Suzuki SX4, Toyota Yaris, Chevrolet Sonic and Hyundai Accent. All these cars are competitively priced and are strong contenders within this market. I have driven virtually everything in this class, but I decided to pop my subcompact review cherry with the 2013 Kia Rio5 SX GDI.
Powered by a 1.6L DOHC, GDI 4-cylinder engine outputting 138 horsepower at 6,300 RPM and 123 LB/FT of torque at 4,850 RPM, the numbers don’t seem all that impressive in the slightest. That being said however, the current configuration does do a great job at being efficient. With an observed average of 6.8L/100 KM over the course of my test week, I wasn’t complaining.
Though the Rio5 may not be the fastest car on the road, it makes up for it in other departments. I found that my test car’s 6-speed manual was much more responsive and fun to shift than the 6-speed automatic model we drove last year. The 6-speed gear ratios are also nicely spaced; however I did find some lag between first and second gear while doing some spirited driving.
On the highway, at 110 KM/H, I found the engine to be a little loud. Surprisingly, this became less prominent if I increased the speed. It was however, a bit of a chore trying to get around slow-moving vehicles as the Rio5 lacks any sort of passing power whatsoever, but once the car gets up to speed, it was pretty stable. This is something that cannot be said about the Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris. While the SX trim level comes with a sport-tuned suspension format (which I think is quite nice when taking corners), I quickly found that I had to play my cards right. I realized that in order to have fun with the Rio5, I had to learn how to take corners fast enough that I didn’t need to continuously shift gears to get back up to speed.
Being an audio nut by trade, I found Kia’s UVO infotainment system to be pretty decent based on some of the systems I’ve seen in rival cars. I was not impressed with the reproduction of audio notes and the speakers seemed to have trouble with low frequency ranges and clarity. The functionality of the system however, is phenomenal when you take into account everything I had to choose from – iPod, satellite radio and radio stations. It literally had everything I’d want. For $21,000 as-tested, that’s not to be taken lightly.
Bluetooth connectivity is something I rely on religiously with any vehicle I’m in, but this one had a lot of complaints from the receiver. The people I called could hear themselves on their end and that is extremely annoying.
The interior was nicely upholstered with a heated leather steering wheel and front seats. I found these seats comfortable for short jaunts and fine for long drives as long as I could take pit stops just to get out and stretch life back into the lower half of my back.
As my first crack into the economy subcompact segment, I found the Rio5 a tad bit boring with its lower horsepower, but having the infotainment system pumping out my favourite beats and saving on gas even when on the highway definitely made up for it. Anyone interested in a city car that’s easy to maneuver around smaller streets should definitely give this little Korean runabout a serious look.
2013 Kia Rio5 SX Gallery