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2014 Kia Rio

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 12/10/2014

New for 2014

The Kia Rio gets several minor enhancements for the 2014 model year, including changes to the underbody aerodynamics to increase efficiency, a new leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a new smart key.

Research

Vehicle Overview

The Kia Rio is a subcompact sedan and four-door hatchback that fits in the automaker's lineup below the Forte. The Rio strives to pair fuel efficiency and available features for class-leading value in the segment.

Summary

The 2014 Kia Rio can be had as a sedan or a four-door hatchback, which boasts more head- and legroom for front passengers. Both body styles in the LX trim can be equipped with a six-speed manual; however, other trim levels come exclusively with a six-speed automatic. All Rios get the 138-hp 1.6-liter I-4 that makes 123 lb-ft of torque and is good for an EPA-estimated 27/37 mpg city/highway. An available start/stop technology for the automatic-equipped cars adds one mpg to the EPA number around town. In our long-term 2013 Kia Rio SX we averaged 34.1 mpg over 39,000 miles.

Notable available features on the subcompact Rio are the 7-inch infotainment screen (which boasts one of the industry's best interfaces), hands-free keyless entry, power-folding side mirrors, and LED daytime running lights. In an update review of our long-term 2013 Kia Rio, we said, "Those who prioritize upscale features over a rewarding driving experience should consider the Rio SX, which will cost about $21,000 with nearly every option Kia can throw at its subcompact in sedan and four-door hatch forms."

The 2014 Kia Rio received a four-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars), but it was flagged for a safety concern about possible rear-passenger injury in side impact collisions. In IIHS testing the Rio received three ratings of good, one of acceptable for side impact, and one of marginal for the new, more difficult small front overlap category (the highest possible rating is good).

What We Think

We had a long-term 2013 Kia Rio SX, and said: "At 101.2 inches, the Rio's wheelbase is lengthy for a subcompact, but the suspension is inefficiently dialed in. The front end tracks nicely, until it runs out of shock absorption and starts ramming the bump stops. The torsion-beam rear gains excessive leverage on the rest of the car on single-wheel impacts, laterally shifting the tail end and making the whole car jittery." The sentiment was echoed in a 2012 comparison among the Rio, Suzuki SX4, Mazda2, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Chevrolet Sonic, and Hyundai Accent, where the Rio placed last. We said: "Thrashy, thrashy drivetrain. No grip, no road feel, very noisy." The biggest asset was a lowest as-tested price, yet the lack of options was evident in more than the window sticker. We noticed "no cruise control, power door locks, or electric windows, features common in other entry-level cars." While it was well-packaged, the back seat was roomy, and the car looked better than some of the competition, the Rio suffers from cheapness and needs some refinement to be more competitive.

You'll Like

  • Fuel efficient
  • Available features make for a decent value in the segment
  • Back seat room

You Won't Like

  • Thrashy drivetrain
  • Unsettled suspension
  • Base model is woefully basic

Key Competitors

  • Honda Fit
  • Mazda2
  • Toyota Yaris
  • Hyundai Accent

Rating

2 star

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