Like most models that aren't SUVs or a crossover of some sort, the subcompact sedan is slowly fading in the USA. Considering reliable, budget-friendly family cars in this body style have a lot to offer, it's a pity that the Rio and its peers aren't more popular. With an affordable price tag, an efficient powertrain, and available tech that sees it well kitted out for ferrying around your most precious cargo, the 2023 Kia Rio is an ideal starter car that sometimes doesn't get the recognition it deserves. The standard 1.6-liter inline-four engine makes 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque and averages 36 mpg combined, and while it isn't the most exciting car to drive, it's far from being flavorless. Competitors to the Kia Rio include the equally affordable Nissan Versa and Hyundai's Accent, although the latter was discontinued last year. This is even more reason to get your hands on this humble sedan - and you could easily get a fully-loaded version for around $20k off the showroom floor.
Keeping to the recipe that has worked thus far, the 2023 Kia Rio subcompact sedan carries over with only one small change: the addition of an oil-level sensor to alert drivers if they need to top up. Buyers in the USA will be happy that the price tag for the two available trims remains among the lowest in the segment, despite an increase of a few hundred dollars over the previous model year.
The keyword here is 'affordable.' The Rio doesn't pretend to be anything other than an affordable little sedan, and with a growing number of people in the US downscaling to cheaper cars, the Rio is undoubtedly in a good position. The base price for one of these vehicles is surprisingly low: with an MSRP of only $16,750, you can get your hands on the LX base model. The top-of-the-line S will cost you $17,390, and depending on how much you want to spend, the final Kia Rio price can climb to just over the $20,000 mark with options. These prices exclude a destination charge in the USA of $1,125.
See trim levels and configurations:
The new Kia Rio sedan is a pleasant surprise in a sea of bland budget cars. You won't be blamed for thinking that cars in this segment offer nothing but a means of getting from point A to B, and that's often true about vehicles designed for that purpose. The 2023 Rio changes that mentality by providing a responsive drive; the steering is a bit numb, and the engine doesn't make for spicy performance in any way, but it does handle a set of corners rather impressively. The suspension is well-tuned, ironing out bumps and absorbing most major road imperfections to make for a comfortable ride. Some may feel it's a little stiffer than necessary, but those that enjoy slightly spirited drives will appreciate that it doesn't wallow. The predictable and solid feel serves the little sedan well, adding a layer of confidence to drivers of any skill level.
It's easy to find things to criticize in a segment where barebones vehicles are a product of their pricing, but with the Kia Rio, there's less to be negative about than expected. Sure, trunk space is limited, and you'd do better to opt for the hatchback version of the Kia Rio which we review separately if that's your priority - but this, together with cramped rear seats, are common complaints of subcompact cars and hardly a penalty unique to the Rio. Kia has put together a handsome vehicle with solid build quality, high reliability prospects, and a pleasant drive; opting for the higher-spec S model with the Technology Package added will give you a modern, well-equipped family car with sufficient safety and tech features at a little over $20k.
The whole point of buying a Kia Rio Sedan is to keep costs low, with little regard for fanciful features such as satellite radio and LED headlights. For that reason, we would suggest going straight for the entry-level LX model, which shares its drivetrain with the more expensive S Trim. You still get excellent gas mileage, a user-friendly eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and enough space to fit three of your pals. Of course, going fully-loaded only adds a few thousand bucks to the total price, which isn't a waste in our opinion.
The most popular competitors of 2023 Kia Rio: