What Is It?
The 2018 Kia Rio is the Korean company’s subcompact model, and the fourth generation makes its world debut at the 2016 Paris Auto Show. It’s slightly longer than before and the altered dimensions should help with rear passenger space. The wheelbase is marginally stretched (by about 0.4 of an inch) while the roofline stays up almost to the top of the rear window.
This is a small car, but technology makes a big contribution, not just with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, but also with safety features that are usually found in large luxury cars. It’s good to see them trickling down into affordable subcompacts. The Rio is the first in its class to offer autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping alerts and pedestrian detection.
A new generation naturally brings a new look, with the corporate Kia grille morphing into a thinner yet wider shape and the headlights becoming even more dramatic. The interior is much neater than its predecessor, doing away with a few buttons here and there. Materials are also claimed to be of higher quality. Its most notable feature is probably the “floating” touchscreen, and others such as rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and rear parking assistance will also be available.
At the Paris Auto Show, only the hatchback version has debuted, but a sedan alternative is anticipated for buyers in the United States. Engine-wise, the current generation uses a 138-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder unit. However, the new model offers (to Europeans, at least) a turbocharged 3-cylinder engine with 118 hp, which could compete with a similarly equipped Ford Fiesta.
To be announced. The current Rio starts at around $15,000.
When Can You Get It?
The company says the 2018 Kia Rio goes on sale “globally during the first quarter of 2017.” So it could be a 2017 model, but a 2018 designation is more likely.
Add It to Your Shopping List Because…
Kia is not so much on a roll as on a sustained upward surge, getting so many things right. And advanced safety technology makes the Rio especially compelling.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Chevrolet Sonic — This car has been updated for this model year to include forward-collision and lane-departure alerts, plus a rearview camera as standard. However, it is tight in the back.
2017 Ford Fiesta — This is a prime example of how a sensible subcompact can still be fun. It has a great chassis along with decent levels of standard equipment.
2017 Honda Fit — Clever seat-folding antics bring a lot of interior versatility with this model, while the rest of the Fit is classy, reliable and thrifty.
2017 Hyundai Accent — This model is based on the same platform as the outgoing Rio and is not really a star member of the class.
2017 Toyota Yaris — This model year sees the availability of forward-collision and lane-departure warnings, while the former Scion iA sedan becomes the Yaris iA. It’s hard to get excited about either of these models, but at least they offer affordable and reliable transportation.
Used Honda Civic — The Civic is a compact, so it’s roomier than the Rio. Honda’s build quality is consistently high and snapping up a certified pre-owned model is a smart move.