2012 Kia Rio

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Key Specs
Our Take
Overview
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2012 Kia Rio. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    32-33 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    138-hp, 1.6-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    6-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Assertive styling
  • Gas mileage
  • Decent power
  • Automatic-transmission responsiveness
  • Optional upscale amenities

The Bad

  • Active Eco mode severely diminishes performance
  • Uncomfortable front seats
  • Tight backseat
  • Safety concern in NHTSA side crash test

Notable Features of the 2012 Kia Rio

  • Redesigned for 2012
  • EPA-estimated 37 mpg highway
  • Direct-injection four-cylinder
  • VSM safety system can automatically make steering corrections
  • Available navigation with 7-inch screen

2012 Kia Rio Overview

By Cars.com Editors
Vehicle Overview

Rising gas prices may have many drivers grumbling at the pumps, but new-car buyers have a number of new fuel-sipping subcompact cars from which to choose. Kia's offering in the segment is the Rio sedan and Rio5 hatchback, both of which have been redesigned for 2012 and are expected to get around 29/37 mpg city/highway. Competitors include the Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris. The Rio is scheduled to hit dealerships in fall 2011.

Exterior
The redesigned Rio incorporates design cues from the automaker's larger Optima family sedan, including a chrome-ringed grille that leads to wraparound headlights, but the sedan's trunk lid is relatively short. The Rio5 hatchback has a sleeker rear, finished with a forward-swept liftgate.

Value-oriented LX trims come with 15-inch steel wheels, body-colored door handles and mirrors, and manual locks. The EX gets power locks and keyless entry. The top-line SX boasts 17-inch rims, fog lamps, LED daytime running lights and taillights, chrome exhaust tips and heated side mirrors with redundant turn-signal lights.

Interior
The Rio's cabin gets a makeover for 2012, and as with the exterior of the car, there's a greater focus on distinctive design. Controls are within easy reach of the driver and thoughtfully arranged. With front bucket seats and three seat belts in back, the Rio theoretically has room for five people.

LX models have a standard height-adjustable driver's seat and a CD stereo with auxiliary and U...

Vehicle Overview

Rising gas prices may have many drivers grumbling at the pumps, but new-car buyers have a number of new fuel-sipping subcompact cars from which to choose. Kia's offering in the segment is the Rio sedan and Rio5 hatchback, both of which have been redesigned for 2012 and are expected to get around 29/37 mpg city/highway. Competitors include the Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris. The Rio is scheduled to hit dealerships in fall 2011.

Exterior
The redesigned Rio incorporates design cues from the automaker's larger Optima family sedan, including a chrome-ringed grille that leads to wraparound headlights, but the sedan's trunk lid is relatively short. The Rio5 hatchback has a sleeker rear, finished with a forward-swept liftgate.

Value-oriented LX trims come with 15-inch steel wheels, body-colored door handles and mirrors, and manual locks. The EX gets power locks and keyless entry. The top-line SX boasts 17-inch rims, fog lamps, LED daytime running lights and taillights, chrome exhaust tips and heated side mirrors with redundant turn-signal lights.

Interior
The Rio's cabin gets a makeover for 2012, and as with the exterior of the car, there's a greater focus on distinctive design. Controls are within easy reach of the driver and thoughtfully arranged. With front bucket seats and three seat belts in back, the Rio theoretically has room for five people.

LX models have a standard height-adjustable driver's seat and a CD stereo with auxiliary and USB inputs. The midlevel EX has standard power windows with an automatic up/down feature for the driver, Bluetooth connectivity and a 60/40-split folding backseat.

SX models add metal pedals, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, illuminated vanity mirrors, a trip computer, cruise control, and Kia's Uvo communication and entertainment system that incorporates a backup camera. SX models can have the optional Premium Package, which includes a navigation system, push-button start, heated front seats, leather upholstery and a moonroof.


Under the Hood
The Rio has a 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that teams with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

An auto-stop feature is optional for the four-cylinder. Included with the Eco Package, auto-stop shuts the engine off automatically when the Rio comes to a halt, restarting when the brake pedal is released. With this system, city gas mileage is expected to increase by 1 mpg. The engine also features direct injection, an uncommon technology in this class.


Safety
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags and an electronic stability system that is required for 2012.


2012 Rio Video

Cars.com compares seven subcompacts under $16,000 to see which is best for today's family. We were joined by MotorWeek and USAToday, using input from a real family.

Latest 2012 Rio Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.2)
Reliability
(4.5)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Favorite Car

by Angelsracer182 from Fort Worth Texas on January 22, 2018

This car was a huge update from my 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer I previously owned. It has Bluetooth connection, hands free functions, Sirius XM, AUX Input, touch screen, big trunk space, I definitely would ... Read full review

(2.0)

Great car for the first three years......

by Tanabanana from Houston tx on December 31, 2017

Great car for the first three years. I kept up with all the maintenance, tires oil. As soon as I noticed anything it was in the shop. I had so much stuff go wrong with it. In all I spent more that $... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Kia Rio currently has 0 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2012 Kia Rio has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranties

Backed by Kia
New Car Program Benefits
  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    120 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits
  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    5 years or newer/less than 60,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    12 months/12,000 miles

  • Powertrain warranty

    10 years/100,000 miles

  • Dealer Certification Required

    164-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All Program Details

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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