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2018 Kia Rio: Check out this no-frills version


Kia Rio like taking a step back in time

Roseville, CA,- It's been quite a while since we were reaching for a door handle to manually roll down a window, yet that was the case recently with the no-frills version of the 2018 Kia Rio.

Not many vehicles these days are lacking the niceties that we've all become accustomed to with the modern-day car. The scaled back base model Rio was indeed - scaled way back.

The low-end priced Rio also included manually adjusted side mirrors, had no center console or armrests, required a key to open and lock the doors, and it was also needed to start the engine.

And even though the subcompact Kia Rio came with a 5-inch display screen, there was no backup camera, a terrific safety feature that most drivers have grown extremely fond of utilizing.

2018 Kia Rio

* Performance: 1.6-liter, four cylinder, 130 horsepower
* Mileage estimate: 28-37 mpg
* Price estimate: $14,800 to $ 21,100
* Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles; drivetrain: 10 years/100,000 miles; roadside assistance: 5 years/60,000; corrosion: 5 years/100,000

Overall, driving the Kia Rio felt like taking a step back in time.

Yet what the 2018 Kia Rio was also lacking was a hefty sticker price. Chose the straightforward version and one can drive the manual-transmission Rio off the dealer lot for roughly $14,800 - $1,600 less than the 2017 model. The price tags hike another $1,000 to get automatic transmission.

The Rio can be purchased as a sedan or hatchback, which is the more popular of the two. The hatchback starts at approximately $15,100, also a lower starting price than last year.

The redesigned 2018 Kia Rio has some major competitors in the subcompact class that includes the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris, and Ford Fiesta. Note that the Rio was Kia's best-selling car globally in 2017.

The Rio performs better than one might anticipate. It has a spunky engine that doesn't feel underpowered while in typical around-town driving. It also didn't feel overwhelmed climbing a sizable hill and handled itself adequately when acceleration was needed on the freeway.

There's only one engine with the Kia Rio, a 1.6-liter, four cylinder that generates 130 horsepower (8 lower than the 2017 model) and 119 pound-feet of torque.

Gas mileage is typically a major factor when purchasing a subcompact. The Kia Rio comes up a bit short against multiple rivals, getting an estimated 28-37 mpg. Some of those competitors also offer an electric or hybrid version that gets outlandish gas mileage.

Kia equipped the Rio with a larger platform this year. The retuned suspension gives the vehicle a little better feel in freeway driving.

Like many subcompacts, the Kia Rio has its share of interior hard plastic. The front seat provides reasonable comfort and room, even for 6-foot occupants. The rear seat is not as roomy.

The cargo area in the hatchback is 17.4 cubic feet and expands to 32.8 with the rear seat down. The sedan is not as spacious with the cargo area measuring 14 cubic-feet.

As mentioned previously, the interior is devoid of even the most basic features. Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility comes only in the two upper-level models. An upgraded 7-inch touchscreen and Kia's user-friendly Uvo system are other possible add-ons.

The 2018 Kia Rio has some downside, but overall offers good value for someone who wants to purchase a modest subcompact at a low price.

About Weidel on Wheels

Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at

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