2012 Kia Rio SX Sedan Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Shocked? Yah, I suppose that expresses my initial feelings upon entering Kia's new Rio sedan in top-line SX trim. This one even included a navigation system as part of the brand's state-of-the-art UVO infotainment system, not to mention beautiful camel-coloured leather seats and colour-matched leatherette door trim, a rich soft-touch dash-top, proximity sensing remote access with pushbutton ignition, crystal clear Supervision gauges, alloy sport pedals, automatic climate control with the bonus of a cooling glovebox, rain-sensing wipers, UV-reducing solar glass, power-folding exterior mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, LED taillights and, are you sitting down, a heated leather-clad steering wheel. This kind of content is normally reserved for a mainstream brand's range-topping full-size model, but Kia has decided that you shouldn't be penalized for wanting to reduce your carbon footprint.

While emissions-friendly, the SX ups performance too, with larger brakes, a sport suspension, 17-inch alloy rims and a sweet sounding twin-tip exhaust, the latter being the end result of a standard four-cylinder engine that puts out a lot of pace for only 1.6 litres of displacement at 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque, much thanks to class-leading direct-injection technology. My tester came with Kia's 6-speed automatic, two forward gears more than offered by most in this class and delivering a more positive shifting experience than rival CVTs. All-round the Rio is an entertaining package, with quick acceleration for the class and decent enough handling.

Of course, most buy into the subcompact class for economic reasons, and to that end the Rio is pretty thrifty on fuel. My automatic gets a claimed 6.8 L/100km city and 4.9 highway compared to the base manual's 6.6 and 4.9, and my own over hill and dale city/highway results came pretty close at an average of about 7.0 L/100km.

Speaking of economics, the Rio sedan starts life at a mere $15,250 including destination, whereas my SX with UVO navigation stretches the boundaries of mainstream subcompacts at a lofty $23,350. Then again, this car stretches the boundaries of everything we've come to know in the entry-level class, with what I think is truly attractive design as well.

Over and above the SX items already mentioned, my tester included many of the standard features available on all Rios such as power windows, powered heated mirrors, a tilt steering wheel with audio controls, an AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary and USB inputs, a 6-way manual driver's seat with height adjustment, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA), plus traction and stability control as well as a full assortment of airbags, etcetera, etcetera, while other trim levels add Bluetooth, a telescopic steering column, heated seats, cruise control, metal-grain interior accents, a powered glass sunroof, a rearview camera, automatic headlights, fog lights, and the list goes on.

An impressive tally for sure, but that's not the entire story. It's how Kia puts everything together in an attractive, well-built package that really impresses. Quality is evident everywhere, a confidence-builder that's backed by one of the best new car warranties in the business at 5 years or 100,000 kilometres bumper to bumper.

You may have never considered a Kia before, but when it comes to small cars you may want to reconsider. The South Korean brand has come a long way indeed, so far in fact that most competitors are playing catch up in everything from mechanical technology to premium-like features, let alone styling.

Fortunately for you, state-of-the-art is only a test drive away. I highly recommend it.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Kia, 2012, Rio, $10,000 - $19,999, $20,000 - $29,999, Subcompact,

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