2012 Kia Rio Price, Review

2012 Kia Rio Price, Review, Specs, what car reviews, The Rio is Kia’s entry-level sedan that was redesigned for the 2006 model year and received exterior detail updates for 2010. In 2011, Kia again redesgined the Rio and Rio 5-door hatchback, giving the cars the more aggressive look of other Kia models such as the Optima and Sportage.. The Rio is one of the lowest priced sedans sold in America, but Kia strives to offer a full-feature vehicle with a stylish appearance. Kia first entered the U.S. market in 1994 with the Sephia, however, the first Kia sold in the U.S. was actually the Ford Festiva, which Kia built for Ford from 1987 to 1992.

Redesigned for 2012, the Kia Rio receives improvements in just about every area. Similar to Kia’s other recently redesigned models, style is a priority — both the Rio’s exterior and interior have a bold look for this vehicle segment. The new Rio is larger than before, and that translates into more interior and cargo room.

Under the hood is a new 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with direct-injection technology. With 138 horsepower, it will be one of the most powerful cars in its class. It will come paired with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, and that helps the Rio get what Kia promises is 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. A start-stop technology similar to that found on hybrid vehicles will be an option.


Take the 2012 Kia Rio 5-door hatchback for example. It has four-wheel disc brakes, power windows, a driver’s seat height adjuster, map lights, illuminated vanity mirrors, a trip computer, sliding centre console armrest and 60/40 split folding rear seats as standard.

Spend some extra dollars and you can get an upgraded sound system with satellite radio, rearview camera, power folding mirrors, rain sensing wipers, a push button start, heated seats and even a heated steering wheel. Yes folks, this little car is the first sub-compact to offer a heated steering wheel. It should be safe also, as it has 6 airbags standard.


From a styling point of view, it might not be a clear winner in its segment, but it certainly is pretty enough for people to notice. Designed by the talented Peter Schreyer, the Rio does seem to mimic the work he did while he was designing Seats, a subsidiary of Volkswagen.

One feature many car companies (and customers) spend time designing is the exhaust pipe. On the Rio, it is completely hidden. This gives the back a uniformed and clean appearance. But it you do prefer chrome exhaust tips, Kia will do that for you.

If you want an econo-car with a luxury car interior, then this is the one to look at. It’s excellently designed, the interior looks clean and high-tech, and the quality of the fit and finish is easily well above average. Over all it’s well above what anyone expects from this category of car and we applaud Kia for raising the bar.


In short, it is fine. It is not going set the road on fire nor will it make your heart beat faster, but then cars in this category aren’t meant to be aimed at enthusiast buyers anyway. What it is suppose to do – ie. transport you and your family with groceries – it does well.

Powering the new Rio is a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder unit that benefits from direct fuel-injection (they like to call it GDI). It is the same unit as found in a Hyundai Accent and makes an identical 138 hp and 123 lb-ft of torque – which is plenty. The engine can be mated to either a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual gearbox. The manual also comes with hill assist, which holds the car in place for two seconds either on hills to prevent rolling. Anyone who drives a manual on a daily basis will appreciate this feature.


A unique feature for Kia on this engine is the Idle, Stop and Go (ISG) system, which in theory would shut the engine off at traffic lights to conserve fuel. The engine would then fire up as soon as you touch the gas pedal. ISG is an optional feature on the Rio, and sadly all the test cars at the launch did not have this system for us to test. Perhaps the system is still being refined. However, the Rio is the first sub-compact to offer a stop and go system.

What we were able to test is the new “active ECO” system. This feature is engaged by pressing a button located on the left side of the dash, behind the steering wheel. Once activated, the active ECO cuts down on revs and shifts gears earlier to conserve fuel. EPA rates the Rio’s fuel economy at 30-mpg in the city and 40-mpg on the highway – 31-mpg with the ISG system. We averaged around 37 mpg on our run, which means these figures are quite honest.

On the hilly roads around Mount Rainier, the active ECO system was quite obvious. The car takes on a calmer demeanor, and since we were on a twisty mountain road, we quickly got out of the eco-mode and tried to have some fun.

This engine might produce a decent enough amount of grunt, but it does not sound happy being worked. For most, it is a non-issue, but enthusiasts will be hoping and praying for an optional engine, hopefully one with a turbo.

2012 Kia Rio Price :

MSRP range: $13,600 – $17,700
Invoice price range: $13,335 – $16,880

2012 Kia Rio Specs :

Drivetrain : Front Wheel Drive
Curb Weight (lbs) : TBD
City (MPG) : 30
Hwy (MPG) : 40
Horsepower : 138@6300
Torque (lb-ft) : 123@4850
Wheelbase : 101.2
Length (in.) : 166.9
Width (in.) : 67.7
Height (in.) : 57.3