Other manufacturers may be stocking up on sport utility vehicles and trucks, but South Korean manufacturer Kia is expanding its passenger-car offerings. The Rio is a front-drive sedan that arrived in the summer as one of three new car models for Kia, joining the Spectra and the Optima, which is due later in the year.
Kia touts the Rios base price of $8,595 as the least expensive sedan in the United States. With optional features such as air conditioning, power steering, a cassette player and a tilt steering column, the Rio will carry a suggested retail price of around $10,000.
Hyundai owns Kia, and for 2001 Kia provides the same warranty as its parent company. The warranty covers the whole vehicle for five years/60,000 miles, major powertrain components for 10 years/100,000 miles and corrosion for five years/100,000 miles. Free roadside assistance is included for the first five years.
With an overall length of 166 inches, the front-drive Rio is 9 inches shorter than the Sephia sedan, Kias larger subcompact. The standard wheels are 13 inches in diameter; 14-inch wheels and tires are optional.
Kia lists Rio as a five-passenger sedan, but the short wheelbase and modest width of 66 inches means the three-place rear seat is tight for all occupants, except young children. The front seats are a pair of buckets, and the drivers seat is height-adjustable and has an integral armrest.
The trunk holds 9 cubic feet of cargo, and the rear seatback does not fold down for extra room.
Under the Hood
The Rio comes with a 96-horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a standard five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic transmission and antilock brakes are optional.