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Base model shown as 2020 LX IVT
2020 Kia Rio LX IVT - front view

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Top Features of Base Model

  • Nimble driving dynamics
  • Relatively upmarket cabin
  • Strong warranty
  • Accessible pricing
Pro Review

Kia Rio: Everything You Need to Know

About the Kia Rio

The Kia Rio is a subcompact car with handling that’s entertaining enough to elevate your daily commute. Its cabin is attractively designed and solidly constructed. The Rio also comes with warranty coverage that’s among the best in its class.

The Rio is available as a sedan or hatchback (called the Rio Five-Door). Both body styles provide seating for five passengers. All models come with front-wheel drive and a four-cylinder engine

One weakness worth noting is the Rio’s narrow range of active safety features. Rival models have more to offer in this area. The Rio also trails the competition when it comes to comfort, convenience, and luxury features. If you can get past these shortcomings, you’ll likely find the Rio to be a capable and enjoyable companion.

What’s New in the 2019 Kia Rio?

Kia sells the 2019 Rio sedan in two trim levels: LX and S. With the base LX, the list of standard equipment includes air conditioning, cloth upholstery, and a height-adjustable driver’s seat. The S trim brings in features such as remote keyless entry and cruise control. The hatchback body style is sold only in the S trim.

Last year’s range-topping EX trim has been discontinued, and the Rio is no longer available with a manual transmission. Bluetooth connectivity, power windows, and a rearview camera are now standard on all models.

What Does the Kia Rio Compete With?

The Kia Rio competes with these subcompact cars:

This growing vehicle segment offers some appealing choices. But even in a competitive class, the Kia Rio’s low price point and competent execution make it a good value.

Exterior Design of the 2019 Kia Rio

The exterior design of the 2019 Kia Rio gives it a substantial, broad-shouldered appearance. It looks meatier and heftier than the typical subcompact car.

An intricate, black-and-silver grille leads the way up front. And the Rio sports a bulging hood etched with deep character lines. The sedan’s profile features fairly slim windows and a tall beltline. The hatchback has a sportier look, with a zippy, fastback silhouette.

Kia’s base-model Rio sedan travels on 15-inch steel wheels. Automatic headlights are standard, as well as heated power-adjustable side mirrors. The options list includes LED headlights.

Interior Style in the 2019 Kia Rio

The 2019 Kia Rio is among the few budget-priced cars that go above and beyond when it comes to cabin design. The interior looks driver-focused and upscale.

The Rio’s deeply contoured dash flows into a center stack bordered by sleek metallic accents. Floating touchscreens are fashionable these days, and the Rio offers one as optional equipment. Both the center stack and center console are subtly tilted toward the driver.

Front-seat passengers enjoy ample headroom and legroom. However, the rear seats will be tight for those with long legs. The Rio sedan offers 13.7 cubic feet of cargo volume. That’s more than you’ll get with rivals like the Ford Fiesta sedan.

With the Rio hatchback, you’ll have access to 17.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats in place and 32.8 cubic feet behind the first row. Those are decent numbers. Still, rivals like the Chevrolet Sonic hatchback provide more room for your stuff.

The Rio is a bit light on comfort and convenience features. Cloth upholstery and a tilt-adjustable steering column are standard. The S trim comes with a split-folding rear seat. Amenities like leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a telescoping steering column aren’t offered.

What Technology Comes in the 2019 Kia Rio?

The 2019 Kia Rio offers an adequate selection of tech features for its price point. Base models are equipped with satellite radio and a 5.0-inch display screen. A four-speaker stereo with an MP3 player is also standard, as are a USB port and Bluetooth connectivity.

With the S trim, you get a 7.0-inch touchscreen, two additional speakers, and a rear USB charger. This trim level also adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for easy smartphone integration.

The Rio’s optional touchscreen interface provides a hassle-free user experience. Everything is plainly laid out, and the menus don’t demand a steep learning curve.

What Kind of Safety Features are in the 2019 Kia Rio?

One of the Rio’s biggest weaknesses concerns its lineup of active safety features. It comes with a much more limited range of these amenities than many of its rivals.

Base models are equipped with a rearview camera. The S trim adds an optional forward-collision warning system with emergency braking. This technology will automatically apply the brakes if its sensors detect an impending collision.

Those two items are pretty much it when it comes the Rio’s available driver-assistance features. Amenities like a lane-departure warning system and adaptive cruise control aren’t offered. You will find these features available on competing models like the Honda Fit.

What Is the 2019 Kia Rio Like to Drive?

Handling is one of the 2019 Kia Rio’s most appealing aspects. This car is nimble and surefooted, whether you’re on the highway or a winding back road.

The Rio’s brakes feel solid and deliver predictable response. The engine offers adequate acceleration. But it gets raucous when pushed, and this casts a slight pall on the overall driving experience.

With all models, a 1.6-liter four-cylinder powerplant lives under the hood. This engine generates 130 horsepower and 119 pound-feet of torque. It’s matched with a six-speed automatic transmission that directs power to the Rio’s front wheels.

According to EPA estimates, the Rio’s mileage tops out at 29 mpg in city driving and 37 mpg on the highway. This is about mid-pack for the segment. The Rio delivers better mileage than rivals like the Fiat 500, but it’s less fuel-efficient than such models as the Honda Fit and Toyota Prius C.

Should I Buy a New Kia Rio?

The 2019 Kia Rio offers an upmarket, stylishly designed cabin, and it treats drivers to handling that’s pleasant and engaging. It also comes with one of the best warranties in its class.

The Rio doesn’t offer as many driver-assistance features as some rivals, and its range of comfort and convenience amenities is also relatively meager. Still, the pert Kia Rio is an appealing choice, especially when you consider its extremely modest price tag.

Should I Buy a Used Kia Rio? Are There Any I Should Avoid?

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly small car, a used Kia Rio is worth a look. The car was redesigned in the 2018 model year. This overhaul brought in improved cabin design and sharper sheet metal, as well as the option of forward-collision mitigation. Choose a newer model if you want to benefit from these enhancements.

How Much Does the 2019 Kia Rio Cost?

The 2019 Kia Rio sedan has a starting price of $16,315, while the hatchback starts at $18,215. These prices, which include a destination charge of $925, make the Kia subcompact one of the most affordable choices in its class.

Pros and Cons of the 2020 Kia Rio


  • Relatively upscale cabin
  • Nimble handling
  • Excellent warranty coverage
  • Low base price


  • Light on comfort and convenience features
  • Fewer driver-assistance features than some rivals
  • Engine gets noisy at high speeds
  • Less fuel-efficient than some competitors
Model History

The History of the Kia Rio

The Kia Rio first arrived in dealerships for the 2001 model year. Back then, its low price gave it the distinction of being the least expensive new car in the U.S. It was initially offered only as a sedan, and it was powered by a 96-horsepower engine.

A hatchback model joined the lineup in the 2002 model year. Although not totally redesigned, the Rio got numerous upgrades in 2003, including a new 104-horsepower engine.

The Kia Rio cruised into its second generation with a 2006 redesign. This overhaul brought in standard side-curtain airbags and more refined performance. Kia gave the Rio its second redesign for the 2012 model year, ushering in the car’s third generation. The upgraded model was roomier than its predecessor.

The Rio’s current fourth generation was launched in the 2018 model year. This overhaul saw the Rio spiffing up its cabin design and expanding its range of driver-assistance features. It also got updated technology and revised suspension for improved handling.

Specs & Key Features of the 2020 Kia Rio


Body Style
1.6L 4-Cyl. 16-Valve MPI Gamma II DOHC
120 hp
Intelligent Variable (IVT)
Passenger Doors
Passenger Seating
Front Wheel Drive
City MPG

Key Features

  • Air Conditioning
  • Android Auto
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Audio
  • Back Up Camera
  • Bluetooth
  • LCD Monitor
  • Monitors
  • Tinted Glass

More Features

  • Engine: 1.6L 4-Cyl. 16-Valve MPI Gamma II DOHC
  • Transmission: Intelligent Variable (IVT)
  • Front-Wheel Drive
  • 36-Amp/Hr 410CCA Maintenance-Free Battery w/Run Down Protection
  • 90 Amp Alternator
  • Gas-Pressurized Shock Absorbers
  • Front Anti-Roll Bar
  • Electric Power-Assist Speed-Sensing Steering
  • 11.9 Gal. Fuel Tank
  • Single Stainless Steel Exhaust
  • Strut Front Suspension w/Coil Springs
  • Torsion Beam Rear Suspension w/Coil Springs
  • Front Disc/Rear Drum Brakes w/4-Wheel ABS, Front Vented Discs, Brake Assist and Hill Hold Control
  • Wheels: 15" x 5.5J Steel w/Full Covers
  • Tires: P185/65R15 Low Rolling Resistance
  • Steel Spare Wheel
  • Compact Spare Tire Mounted Inside Under Cargo
  • Clearcoat Paint
  • Body-Colored Front Bumper w/Black Bumper Insert
  • Body-Colored Rear Bumper w/Black Bumper Insert
  • Black Side Windows Trim
  • Body-Colored Door Handles
  • Body-Colored Power Heated Side Mirrors w/Manual Folding
  • Fixed Rear Window w/Defroster
  • Light Tinted Glass
  • Variable Intermittent Wipers
  • Fully Galvanized Steel Panels
  • Black Grille
  • Trunk Rear Cargo Access
  • Fully Automatic Aero-Composite Halogen Headlamps
  • Radio: AM/FM/MP3 Audio System -inc: 6 speakers, 7-inch touch screen, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, USB/auxiliary input jack, support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration,
  • Radio w/Seek-Scan, Clock and Speed Compensated Volume Control
  • Streaming Audio
  • Integrated Roof Antenna
  • 2 LCD Monitors In The Front
  • Front Bucket Seats -inc: 6-way adjustable driver's seat and 4-way adjustable front passenger's seat
  • Driver Seat
  • Passenger Seat
  • Bench Front Facing Rear Seat
  • Manual Tilt Steering Column
  • Gauges -inc: Speedometer, Odometer, Engine Coolant Temp, Tachometer, Trip Odometer and Trip Computer
  • Power Rear Windows
  • Front Cupholder
  • Rear Cupholder
  • Power Fuel Flap Locking Type
  • Remote Releases -Inc: Mechanical Cargo Access and Mechanical Fuel
  • Manual Air Conditioning
  • HVAC -inc: Underseat Ducts
  • Illuminated Glove Box
  • Driver Foot Rest
  • Interior Trim -inc: Metal-Look/Piano Black Instrument Panel Insert and Chrome/Metal-Look Interior Accents
  • Full Cloth Headliner
  • Urethane Gear Shift Knob
  • Woven Cloth Seat Trim
  • Day-Night Rearview Mirror
  • Driver And Passenger Visor Vanity Mirrors w/Driver And Passenger Auxiliary Mirror
  • Full Floor Console w/Storage, Mini Overhead Console w/Storage and 1 12V DC Power Outlet
  • Front Map Lights
  • Fade-To-Off Interior Lighting
  • Full Carpet Floor Covering
  • Carpet Floor Trim and Carpet Trunk Lid/Rear Cargo Door Trim
  • Cargo Net
  • Cargo Space Lights
  • Bluetooth Wireless Technology
  • Driver / Passenger And Rear Door Bins
  • Power 1st Row Windows w/Driver 1-Touch Down
  • Delayed Accessory Power
  • Power Door Locks w/Autolock Feature
  • Trip Computer
  • Outside Temp Gauge
  • Analog Display
  • Manual Adjustable Front Head Restraints and Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints
  • 1 Seatback Storage Pocket
  • Engine Immobilizer
  • 1 12V DC Power Outlet
  • Air Filtration
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • ABS And Driveline Traction Control
  • Side Impact Beams
  • Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
  • Low Tire Pressure Warning
  • Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
  • Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
  • Airbag Occupancy Sensor
  • Rear Child Safety Locks
  • Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Rear Center 3 Point, Height Adjusters and Pretensioners
  • Rear View Monitor w/Parking Guidance Dynamic (RVM w/PG) Back-Up Camera

Warranty Options for the 2020 Kia Rio (4)










Roadside Assistance



Available Trims for the 2020 Kia Rio (2)

MSRP Starting at
MSRP Starting at

Safety Ratings for the 2020 Kia Rio

US NHTSA Crash Test Results

Results shown are for the 2020 Kia Rio LX IVT:

Overall Rating
Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
Overall Side Crash Rating
Side Barrier Rating
Side Barrier Rating Driver
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
Side Pole Rating Driver Front Seat
Combined Side Rating Front Seat
Combined Side Rating Rear Seat
Rollover Rating