Despite booming crossover sales and the notion that bigger is better, in 2022, the Kia Rio subcompact sedan still exists and holds an important position in the US market, and in the hearts and minds of budget-focused shoppers. Providing a surprising mix of talents for very little money, the Rio has become all the more relevant in recent years due to a lingering cloud over the world's economy that is forcing young people to buy cheaper. The Rio gets the job done with a smile, and with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder developing 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft, it'll sip fuel in a most frugal fashion. Compared to the competition, the Rio plates up a capable package, combining decent handling and road-holding, affordable running costs, and all the features one really needs. Competitors such as the Hyundai Accent and Nissan Versa pose stiff competition, but the Rio puts up a good fight.
The 2022 Kia Rio Sedan continues on virtually unchanged from last year with the smallest of updates. Kia's restyled new corporate logo can be seen on the inside and outside of the 2022 model and an engine immobilizer becomes standard equipment on all trims. The only other change affects the Technology Package exclusively available on the S trim - it now contains rear disc brakes too. Pricing is up by $100 for each trim.
See trim levels and configurations:
Take the 2022 Kia Rio for a test drive, and you'll be pleasantly surprised by its road-holding capability and overall comfort. One would expect a harsh and unrefined driving experience at its price point, but this Kia model bucks the trend with impressively refined road manners that echo those of cars higher up in the price range. Kia Rios of old were accused of being too spongy at higher speeds and harsh at lower speeds. The 2022 model feels like a more balanced car. Low-speed surfaces can make the car feel somewhat stiff, but not overbearingly so, and at higher speeds, things feel confidently stable. Steering is predictably light, making the Rio the perfect companion for piloting city streets, but don't expect a ton of feedback. Throw the Rio into a set of fast corners, and it will manage to remain relatively flat, but understeer is the name of the game here. Overall, the Kia Rio is a car that rides and handles well considering its wallet-friendly price.
When it comes to buying a new car, the old adage "you get what you pay for" usually rings true, but in the case of the Rio, it feels as if Kia has gone the extra mile to make its product better than what one would expect in this price range. This little sedan might not look like much on paper, but in reality, it is a capable little thing that is a pleasure to live with on a day to day basis. Behind the wheel, the Rio won't set the soul on fire, but it's peppy enough to keep up with traffic, returns good gas mileage figures, and drives and handles like a larger car. The interior consists mostly of cheap materials, but the build quality is up there, and the infotainment system does a great job of lifting the overall experience of the cabin. There's enough space for four, and there's also a decent amount of luggage space on offer. For the price, this reliable little runabout is a safe bet.
For a price increase of roughly $2,000, you can opt to go for the larger Kia Forte. The Forte is not only a larger car, but it offers a more refined ride, more standard features, and more powerful engine options. Under the hood of the forte, you get to choose a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter four-pot producing 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque or a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 201 hp and 195 lb-ft. These engines provide far more thrust than the Rio, but the turbocharged variant is in a whole different league. The Forte also feels more refined on the open road but won't deliver the same excellent gas mileage figures as the Rio. The Forte interior is of higher quality, both in terms of design and materials used, and there's more passenger space. Both share a similar base feature list, but the Forte gains more advanced safety features higher up in the trim levels. If you can spare an extra $2,000, the Forte is the way to go.
The Hyundai Accent and Rio Sedan share the same platform, all the way from the chassis through to the powertrain, so making a comparison between the two will boil down to the finer points. Where the Accent used to differ from the Rio was the fact that you could get one with a six-speed manual transmission, which was more entertaining to drive, but the 2022 model has now lost the manual option and uses the same CVT as the Rio on all trims. The Accent is offered in three different trim levels and the base SE trim costs around $500 more than the Rio LX but adds cruise control and remote keyless entry. However, it misses out on the great infotainment system we've come to love in the Rio. Inside, the Accent is well put together, but the Rio's cabin feels slightly more refined and easy on the eye. Both trunks are exactly the same size. These cars might seem very similar on paper, but the Rio does a few small things better, which in the end adds up. Get the Rio.