Entry Price: $15,390
Price as Tested: $18,140
This week, it’s the fourth generation 2019 Kia Rio Sedan we’re reviewing, one of the new subcompacts that debuted in 2018. Along with a sibling five-door hatchback, Rio Sedan has some trim upgrades and the elimination of last year’s top trim EX. However, the two remaining trims available this year, LX and S, are now better equipped and rear adult passengers will appreciate more rear legroom than the previous generations.
Entry Rio LX starts at $15,390 and now arrives with a standard CVT automatic transmission instead of the six-speed manual, which has been discontinued. Further, unlike last year’s LX that came with crank windows, consumers will appreciate standard power windows for 2019 along with LX’s 5-inch color display, AM/FM/MP3, USB jack, power door locks, and a host of modern safety features. Another LX plus is a standard rearview backup camera that was previously a packaged option in 2018.
However, the LX does not offer optional high-tech safety features that the now top line S features for $16,190, which is just $800 more on the base price. The engine and suspension are exactly the same on all Rio models be it sedan or hatchback. Our S tester upper-level sedan includes a 7-inch display screen and improved interior features to justify the higher base price. Kia’s popular UVO system and automatic emergency braking system is optional.
Our tester came with the optional S Technology Package that includes the above mentioned UVO, LED Headlights, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), LED Positioning Lights, Forward Collision Warning (FCW), and UVO eServices via the 7-inch Touch-Screen display, SiriusXM Satellite radio and a meter cluster 3.5-inch display. This option costs another $800 more and is highly recommended for operating your Rio in modern day high-tech environments.
Although this little Kia may be the “runt” of the Kia family in size and sales numbers, I expect Rio Sedan to make some serious inroads as we race toward 2020. More so, the entire and very crowded subcompact class is starting to deliver slightly larger cars and SUVs which could prop Kia sales upward when consumers do comparisons.
When you get behind the wheel of a Rio Sedan, you’ll be surprised how roomy it feels in the cabin. It’s also lower to the ground than the previous generation and a bit wider. When it comes to the new, upscale and more pleasing exterior, Kia designers can take a bow as it is indeed one of the better looking of the subcompact bunch.
The S cabin features comfortable stitched dark cloth seating, split folding rear seat, nice dashboard and gauges, USB charging ports, power outside mirrors, keyless entry, power trunk, center console and much more. Notable is Apple and Android compatibility with the S model.
During our test, the front-drive Kia delivered a comfortable ride and when it comes to more aggressive handling and sharp corners, you’ll enjoy improved performance thanks to the upgraded strut front gas shocks and stabilizer and a rear torsion beam setup.
Both LX and S arrive with quality all-season 15-inch tires and ABS front disc brakes coupled with rear-drum brakes, the latter old style technology. Features like alloy wheels are no longer available and that’s a bit puzzling as hubcaps are prone to disintegration thanks to curbs or just plain falling off over time.
Power for all Rios comes from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that generates 130 horsepower and 119 lb. ft. of torque. It’s not a powerhouse by any means, and a bit loud when asking for more juice, but thanks to Rio’s light curb weight it feels frisky at lower RPMs and handles most all driving situations on the road. The EPA estimates are a solid at 28 city and 37 highway, which is several MPG better than the 2017 model but lacking a bit versus top competitors. Parking is a breeze and ease of city driving is one of the top reasons to consider a Kia Rio.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 101.6 inches, 2,714 lb. curb weight, 13.7 cu. ft of cargo space, 33.5 ft. turn circle, 5.5 inch ground clearance, and an 11.9 gallon fuel tank.
Consumers can feel confident that each and every Rio has most of the modern safety features, from hill start assist to all the traction controls and air bags. However, if you want to step up in both safety and amenities, my recommendation is the Rio S with the S Technology option.
The final tally for our test Kia Rio came in at $18,140 retail including a $130 carpeted floor mat kit, $95 cargo mat and $925 delivery.
In summary, Kia makes buying a 2019 Rio easier as several models have been replaced with better equipped versions and no more “bare bones” crank window models. Your Kia dealer will gladly explain everything positive about the 2019 Rio lineup, including the 10-year, 100,000 mile limited drivetrain warranty, current incentives and special discounts.
Likes: All new design, rear legroom, decent handling, very fair price.
Dislikes: Lack of available options, could use more power, noisy at times, no alloy wheels.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive: 2019 Kia Rio Sedan
Entry Price: $15,390