A sporty SX trim level joins the Rio sedan lineup for 2007. Essentially mimicking the Rio5 SX hatchback, the SX sedan includes larger wheels and a sportier interior.
For 2006, Kia redesigned its compact Rio to sit on a longer wheelbase and a wider track. In addition to the new front-wheel-drive platform, the ’06 Rio’s engine produced slightly more horsepower than the outgoing car’s.
The South Korean automaker says its entry-level Rio has a sporty, substantial appearance. The car was introduced at the 2005 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and its emphasis is on overall value.
The SX functions as the top trim level, while base and LX sedans are also available. Few base models are expected to reach customers. Each Rio has six standard airbags, including the usual frontal-impact devices, seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags.
Kia’s Rio5 hatchback is covered separately in the Cars.com Research section.
Larger in every dimension but overall length, the redesigned Rio that debuted for the 2006 model year rides on a 98.4-inch wheelbase. It was wider and taller than its predecessor.
Created with a European-inspired exterior, the Rio features a black mesh grille and swept-back headlights. The bumpers contain black inserts, and black bodyside moldings are installed. The Rio’s profile exhibits what Kia calls a subtle wedge shape, with sculpted arches at each fender.
The Rio has an independent front suspension, a semi-independent rear suspension, and front and rear stabilizer bars. Body-colored mirrors and standard 14-inch tires are installed. Full wheel covers appear on the LX sedan, and power steering is standard only on that model. Options include 15-inch wheels, all-disc brakes, fog lamps and a rear spoiler. On the Rio SX, 16-inch alloy wheels can be installed. Mudguards, a front mask, a hood protector and wheel locks are among the available accessories.
Increased exterior dimensions translate to more interior capacity in the five-passenger Rio. In fact, Kia claims the Rio has greater interior space than the larger Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla (though it competes more directly with the cheaper Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris). With 11.9 cubic feet of cargo space, the trunk is 30 percent roomier than the prior-generation Rio. The Fit, a hatchback, has 21.3 cubic feet of cargo space (with all seats in the upright position), while the Yaris sedan has 12.9 cubic feet of cargo space.
Standard equipment includes an eight-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, variable intermittent wipers and a rear-window defroster. Additional features in the LX sedan include air conditioning, a CD stereo with four speakers, a tilt steering column and a 60/40-split, folding rear seat. An optional Power Package for the LX adds power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry, heated power mirrors, door-mounted tweeter speakers, twin map lamps and a holder for sunglasses.
The Rio SX includes chrome dashboard accents, unique sport seat fabric and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob with red stitching.
The Rio’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder features variable valve timing and produces 110 horsepower and 107 pounds-feet of torque. Either a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic transmission can be installed. Base models are available only with the manual transmission.
Seat-mounted side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags and front seat belt pretensioners are standard. All five seating positions get three-point belts. All-disc antilock brakes are optional. The standard brake setup includes front discs and rear drums.
Adding a few horsepower can make quite a difference in a small sedan. The prior Rio’s performance was decidedly modest, but this version is easily adequate, even with the automatic transmission. Although the engine emits considerable buzz and blare when pushed hard, it’s pleasantly quiet most of the time. Automatic-transmission reactions occur promptly and without any lurching or awkward gear changes. The manual transmission makes the Rio even more appealing for lively motoring.
Ride comfort is another plus. Even when the road surface gets rough, the Rio’s suspension absorbs many imperfections.
Space is another story, at least in the backseat. Legroom even in the outer positions is marginal when the front seat is moved appreciably rearward. Additionally, the hard rear seatback is reclined too far for true comfort. Still, headroom is passable and foot room adequate, and getting into the backseat isn’t too difficult. Despite short seat bottoms, the front seats are rather comfortable. Visibility is unobstructed.