Available in hatchback and sedan body style, easy-to-understand trim level, the redesigned 2018 KIA Rio is a simple but exciting subcompact car. Outside, the exterior has a new look that is more stylish. And inside, it’s well built and relatively wide considering its size.
For mechanics, the 2018 Rio gets an updated version of the KIA 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. It has lower power compared to last year (138 last year vs 130 now ), but KIA says it has decided to replace the peak power with more usable power, which means Rio feels stronger at the lower engine speeds that the driver faces most often.
The interior has also been upgraded, and although the hard plastic is still plentiful, it feels very solid. The dashboard and cluster gauge were redesigned to look upscale, so even though the 2018 KIA Rio is a budget-oriented car, it does not feel cheap. The interior comes by itself better than the same class car that cost thousands more.
Trim, Features and Engine Specs
The 2018 KIA Rio is subcompact car available in sedan or a four-door hatchback body style. Both the hatchback and sedan are sold in three trim levels: base LX, S and EX.
The base LX comes with standard equipment include 15-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, air conditioning, a tilt-only steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a rearview camera, a trip computer, and a four-speaker sound system with a 5-inch display, auxiliary audio input jack, a USB port and satellite radio.
The Rio S adds keyless entry, power windows, heated power mirrors, cruise control, a sliding center console armrest and storage area, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, map lights, an extra USB port charge and a six-speaker audio system.
The 2018 KIA Rio EX includes the S standard equipment plus a chrome grille surround, 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, upgraded cloth upholstery, a forward collision warning system, an upgraded 7-inch center display with Kia’s Uvo infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Launch Edition package for EX trim adds partial leather accents and red interior trim.
Every 2018 KIA Rio is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 130 horsepower and 119 lb-ft of torque. It can be paired to either a standard six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. However, the manual is only available on the base LX trim. EPA fuel economy ratings are 28/37 mpg with the automatic, while the manual at 29/37 mpg city/highway.
There are a lot of hard plastic inside 2018 KIA Rio, but not cheap and all built well. Steering wheel feels solid in your hands. The top-level EX offers some key features, including the KIA Uvo infotainment system, which makes upgrades more feasible.
The new suspension is firm, but it feels planted rather than hard. Headroom and leg room are acceptable, allowing 6-footer passengers to sit comfortably in front or back but not both if the front seat is extended. Tall drivers will appreciate the telescoping wheel range.
The 2018 KIA Rio Hatchback offers more utilities. There are 17.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat or 32.8 cubic feet if the rear seats are folded down. The sedan offers 13.7 cubic feet of luggage space. This is the average figure for the class, and the redesigned suspension allows for a wider load floor.
Official pricing starts at $14,795 (include destination fee) for the LX Sedan with manual transmission. The LX hatchback adds $300 for an MSRP of $15,095. The top range Rio EX at $19,295 for the sedan and $19,595 for the hatchback.