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Refreshing or Revolting: 2018 Kia Rio

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 7/30/2017 Motor Trend Staff

Once the object of ridicule, subcompact cars are now often seen as smart, economical, and parking-friendly. The Kia Rio is one of many cars in this segment that has gradually improved over time, and for 2018, it undergoes a full redesign with a new platform, more spacious interior, and more technologies including autonomous emergency braking. But does the overall design fit the bill?

Like the old model, the 2018 Kia Rio lineup consists of a sedan and hatchback. Regardless of which you choose, you'll see a revised front face. The headlights, while still chunky, take on a new shape and taper out more into the hood of the car. Kia also changed up the foglights by placing them higher near the headlights. The fourth-generation model has a flatter face than its predecessor,which features a more bug-eyed look.

This flatter face becomes more apparent when looking at the car's side proportions. It may be hard to notice, but both the sedan and hatch increase in length by 0.6 inch, and both are lower and wider compared to their older versions. Some of thebiggest changes can be seen on hatch, which ditches its egg-shaped look for more squared-off proportions. The black trim framing the windows has also been updated on both models.

2018 Kia Rio front three quarter© Motor Trend Staff 2018 Kia Rio front three quarter

In the rear, you'll see thinner taillights on the sedan. On the hatch, the taillights have changed as the edges are no longer oriented downward but upward, providing a less droopy look. The hatch also hasa square shaped rear window, new creases in between the taillights and near the Kia badge, and a less pronounced bumper. A revised bumper on the sedan also provides for a more fluid look.

On the 2017 Rio, Kia offers a standard 4.3-inch screen and an upgraded 7-inch touchscreen that is exclusive tothe SX trim level hatch. For 2018, the Rio gets a new 7-inch UVO3 infotainment floating touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, for the top-level EX. This touchscreen unit is not embedded into the dash but sits by itself above the dash. Kia also updated the climate control knobs belowthe touchscreen. Meanwhile, the front seats now feature a slimmer design, which contribute to the Rio's improved interior space.

Do you think the new 2018 Kia Rio is refreshing or revolting?

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