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2013 Kia Rio SX REVIEW: Sporty Hatch or Lipsticked Econobox?

by Noah Kravitz | June 25, 2012June 25, 2012 4:30 pm PST

2013 Kia Rio SX 5 Door Key Specs

  • Price: $18,545 (as tested), $13,800 (Base LX with Manual Transmission)
  • Vehicle Type: 5 Door, 5 Passenger Hatchback
  • Engine: 1.6L, Inline 4 with 6-speed Automatic Transmission
  • Power: 138 hp @ 6,300 rpm, Torque: 123 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy: 30 City / 40 Highway (EPA)

Pros: Great styling, fuel economy (EPA), interior room, infotainment features

Cons: Engine lacks power on freeway, ride can be stiff, premium audio system sounds mediocre

Bottom Line: Good looking, practical runabout with loads of flair and features. The $19k SX model faces stiff competition from several models, which might make the lower-end Rios worth a look.

Review

After my week with the Soul, the folks from Kia asked if I wanted to swap out for another new model, the 2013 Rio SX 5 Door. Having grown up in hatchbacks, I of course said “Yes” (I learned to drive in a 1980 VW Rabbit Diesel with a manual transmission; tough ride to learn on!). Gone was the Alien Green Soul, replaced by a Signal Red Rio SX.

Kia won’t start selling the Rio in SX-trim until this Fall, but they’ve been seeding press with loaners of their new top-line budget hatch over the past few months. My sample came equipped with carpeted floor mats ($95), but was otherwise option-free, checking in at $18,545 including destination charges. While I would have liked a sunroof, the standard SX comes pretty loaded, including 17″ alloy wheels, LED positioning lights and fog lights, heated power folding mirrors with turn signals, and Microsoft’s UVO infotainment system with voice-controlled Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity.

Rio tries to compensate for its 1.6 liter, four cylinder engine’s lack of power with an EPA rated 30 city/40 highway MPG, better than average interior space, and the aforementioned abundance of amenities. And if you ask me, it’s a pretty good looking car, too. But while the base Rio can be had for as little as $13,800, my almost-$19k SX faces some steep competition from the likes of Honda Fit, Mazda 3, Ford Fiesta and even the entry-level Ford Focus and VW Golf.

So how does Rio stack up? I drove it around for a week to find out, so check the video above for my full review. Warning: I didn’t much care for the “premium” stereo’s sound, so I sang often and loudly, as you’ll see – er, hear – in the vid.


Noah Kravitz

Noah Kravitz mourned the day that Star Castle was replaced in the pizza parlour he frequented as a kid. The sadness ended when he saw an older kid...

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