The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide

This one grows on you. Agreed, it is a subcompact with a somewhat crammed rear-seat space but otherwise packed with amenities you rarely come across in an $18,700 ride. And it is a fun front-wheel-drive car to pitch around and through corners.
Redesigned inside out for 2018, the Kia Rio EX is equipped with the same 1.6-liter inline-4 cylinder engine delivering 130 horsepower (down 8 from predecessor) @ 6300 rpm and 119 pounds-feet of torque (decrease of 4) @ 4850 rpm. OK, it is not a speed demon but just right for taking on peak-hour traffic or tackling sharp turns on narrow roads.
Our hatchback was mated to an effortless 6-speed auto gear box. A tweaked MacPherson-type front and torsion beam axle rear suspension works well to soak unpleasant obstacles with little sacrifice to the back side. Handling and steering feel, communicated via an electric rack-and-pinion system, is commendable.
The slightly longer, wider and lower Rio is bold in appearance with swept-back multi-reflector headlights surrounding a chrome-slathered, black-mesh tiger-nose grille. Best of all are standard interior amenities such as a/c, 60/40 rear seat, leather steering wheel and shifter knob, tilt and telescopic steering column, 6-way driver adjustable seat, trip computer, metal-finish trim and pedals, and 7-inch infotainment display touchscreen. A bi-level tray in the center console for placing a cellphone or small personal items will come handy. Cargo space area is OK at 17.4 cubic feet. 
That safety is vital for Kia is apparent from standard dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, electronic stability and traction control systems, antilock four-wheel brakes, hill assist control, forward-collision warning, tire pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry, side impact door beams and front/rear crumple zones.
If you are looking for a fuel-sipper (we averaged 33.3 mpg in combined driving) but enjoyable ride with a lively attitude, the Rio delivers the goods. And at an incredibly economical price tag, we must point out.

Tires: 185/65R15
Wheelbase: 101.6 inches
Length: 160 inches
Suspension: MacPherson-type strut; torsion beam axle
Steering: electric rack and pinion
Weight: 2,714 pounds
Fuel capacity: 11.9 gallons
City: 28; highway, 37 mpg
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CALLING ALL KIA DEALERS IN THE WEST CENTRAL FLORIDA AREA: if you would like to be listed here as one of the test-drive dealerships, e-mail us at