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2002 Kia Rio

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$40 — $4,824 USED
8
Photos
Sedan
5 Seats
29 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
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Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Vehicle Overview
For 2002, a subcompact Rio wagon joins the front-drive Rio mini-sedan that debuted a year earlier as the least-expensive car in the U.S. market. On sale since summer 2001, the wagon is the least-expensive example of that body style sold in the United States, displacing the Suzuki Esteem, which held that title recently. Rio sedans switch from 13-inch to 14-inch tires for 2002, and a new power package is optional.

Since its acquisition by Hyundai, another South Korean automaker, Kia has been coming on stronger than ever by expanding its passenger-car offerings. A brand-new midsize Optima sedan arrived in 2001, following the debut of the mini-sized Rio sedan and the Spectra hatchback version of the subcompact Sephia sedan, which has been around since 1994. Kia sold 98,256 vehicles in the United States during 2000, vs. 82,211 units in the previous year, according to Automotive News. This year’s new products, including the Sedona minivan, give the company a total of six models — quite a jump from the handful of Sephia sedans that began to trickle into the United States in the mid-1990s.

Kia provides a long-term warranty similar to that of its parent company. It 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.

Exterior
Led by what Kia calls an aero-look front end with “memorable” tri...
Vehicle Overview
For 2002, a subcompact Rio wagon joins the front-drive Rio mini-sedan that debuted a year earlier as the least-expensive car in the U.S. market. On sale since summer 2001, the wagon is the least-expensive example of that body style sold in the United States, displacing the Suzuki Esteem, which held that title recently. Rio sedans switch from 13-inch to 14-inch tires for 2002, and a new power package is optional.

Since its acquisition by Hyundai, another South Korean automaker, Kia has been coming on stronger than ever by expanding its passenger-car offerings. A brand-new midsize Optima sedan arrived in 2001, following the debut of the mini-sized Rio sedan and the Spectra hatchback version of the subcompact Sephia sedan, which has been around since 1994. Kia sold 98,256 vehicles in the United States during 2000, vs. 82,211 units in the previous year, according to Automotive News. This year’s new products, including the Sedona minivan, give the company a total of six models — quite a jump from the handful of Sephia sedans that began to trickle into the United States in the mid-1990s.

Kia provides a long-term warranty similar to that of its parent company. It 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.

Exterior
Led by what Kia calls an aero-look front end with “memorable” triangular taillamps at the rear, the Rio generally looks like a typical small sedan. Essentially, it’s based on the platform used by the Kia-built Ford Aspire of the mid-1990s.

With a 94.9-inch wheelbase and a 165.9-inch overall length, the mini-sized Rio is 9 inches shorter than the Spectra sedan, which is Kia’s larger subcompact. The four-door Rio sedan measures 65.9 inches wide and 56.7 inches tall, and its standard wheels have grown to 14 inches in diameter for 2002.

Interior
With a claimed five-passenger capacity, the Rio has front buckets and a three-place rear seat. Still, its short wheelbase and modest width means the backseat could be tight for all occupants, except young children. The height-adjustable driver’s seat has an integral armrest, but the rear seatback does not fold down for extra cargo volume. The trunk holds 9.2 cubic feet of cargo. Optional features include air conditioning, power steering, a cassette player and a tilt steering column.

Under the Hood
Kia’s 96-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine mates with either a standard five-speed manual or an optional four-speed-automatic transmission. Antilock brakes are optional, and side-impact airbags are not available.

Driving Impressions
The Rio is not without its faults. However, Kia’s smallest model is a pleasantly appealing, surprisingly capable vehicle — a sizable cut above what’s usually expected from small cars. With the manual shift, acceleration is eager if not exactly overpowering, whether that is during standing-start takeoffs or for passing and merging. Performance also is better than adequate with the automatic transmission, unless you’re on a heavy upgrade, which can cause the Rio to struggle to maintain speed. Automatic-transmission shifts are generally quick and easy, but pushing hard on the gas pedal can produce a bit of awkwardness as the gears change.

The Rio shines brightest in ride quality, which is well-behaved and composed. Quick steering response yields a sensation of confidence that’s not often found in such small cars. A certain amount of steering-wheel correction is needed on straightaways at higher speeds, but no more than in other vehicles of this sort.

Its gauges are easy to read, but a tachometer is not included. Headroom is plentiful in the front seats. The backseat offers more space than many larger competitors, including the center-rear position. Because power windows are not available, occupants will have to do the cranking on their own. Radio buttons are bigger than in previous Kia models, though the lettering on the controls is still small. The Rio’s simple-to-use but effective air conditioner produces ample coolness on warm days.

 
Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2002 Buying Guide

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

3.6
8 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(3.1)
Performance
(3.0)
Interior Design
(3.0)
Comfort
(3.4)
Reliability
(3.5)
Value For The Money
(3.9)
(4.0)

Very reliable

by mjsparks on August 7, 2018

This car was a gift from my boyfriend and his parents, and I cannot believe how well it has run considering how old she is. She's JUST starting to lose her drive and she's at 149k miles at 16 years ... Read full review

(5.0)

Kia Rio so reliable i have Three

by kia tuner from Crestline Ca on December 24, 2010

these cars are great. i have three in 9 years. i bought my first one in sept. of 01. it was an 02 model for daily driving and driving to college. i have over 600,000 miles on it and it keeps going. ... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2002 Kia Rio currently has 1 recall


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2002 Kia Rio has not been tested.

Latest 2002 Rio Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Rio received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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