Test drive: 2013 Kia Rio5 SX
Base Price: $17,900
Price As tested: $18,650
This week, we're driving Kia's 2013 Rio5 SX, the company's popular small car that starts at just $13,800 and delivers an impressive 40-mpg highway. All-new in '12, Rio's re-styled exterior combines nicely with a spacious interior that makes it a popular choice amongst subcompact devotees. The "5" in the nomenclature indicates a "5-door" hatchback versus a standard sedan model, that latter which starts at $13,600.
Rio delivers what modern day consumers demand, specifically excellent fuel economy, impressive head and leg room, cargo room and the aforementioned low retail entry price. Kia also adds the 10-year/100,000 mile drivetrain warranty, an industry first along with corporate sibling Hyundai.
As noted in past Kia reviews, the South Korean-based company continues to improve each model year, competing well in classes today that in the past were unattainable. From subcompact Rio, midsize Optima, SUV Sorento to minivan Sedona, there's a model at the Kia showroom that fits all budgets.
For 2013, Rio is a near duplicate to 2012's all-new design, with just a few minor tweaks here and there. A
notable similarity is price, as Rio keeps the same cost structure as last year thus eliminating any inflationary situation.
Mechanically, this new generation's wheelbase stretches by 2.8-inches longer than the previous 98.4 inch design, while other improvements include a more rigid build, independent strut front and semi-independent torsion rear suspension, gas shocks and all the safety features today's modern automobiles offer.
On the road, expect peppy performance and an overall ease in city driving, especially parallel parking. Our top line Rio5 SX comes standard with a sport tuned suspension, metal pedals, impressive spoke alloy wheels, dual exhaust chrome tips and LED head and tail lights.
Kia's Rio5 SX for '13 now features a "special edition" standard six-speed manual transmission model, which wasn't available in the 2012 line and comes loaded for $18,650 delivered. Although an automatic is still available, I applaud Kia for bringing back a six speed manual in the upper crust sporty version, as only the entry level models came with the manuals last year. The transmission is well geared and combines nicely with its 138-horsepower 1.6-liter GDI direct injection four-cylinder engine, motivating SX from zero to 60 mph in about eight seconds flat. (Way better than the automatic's 9.4 second test from last year).
Inside, the spacious hatchback layout features comfortable seating and numerous standard amenities like Sirius Satellite, Navigation with rear camera display, USB, MP3, air conditioning, all the powers, keyless start, several auxiliary inputs, cruise, Bluetooth, tilt and telescopic, remote keyless entry, leather touches, soft touch dash and more.
Rio5 SX manual transmission editions feature low profile Hankook Optimo V-rated tires instead of 15-inchers on the entry level models. You'll also receive fog lamps, heated power folding mirrors with signal indicator, all the airbags, hill assist, traction control, electronic stability with vehicle management and a four-wheel ABS brake system all included in the base price. The only addition to the base is a $750 delivery charge.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 101.2 inches, 2,410 pound curb weight, from 15 to 49.8 cu. ft. of cargo space, 11.4 gallon fuel tank, and a 33.5 ft. turning circle.
In summary, you'll enjoy the performance and build quality of the 2013 Kia Rio5, as the once struggling car company now produces some of the best built and reliable cars on the road. Current incentives find a $500 allowance for current military or vets; $750 for college grads or those nearing completion; and a 1.9-percent finance offer for 36 months.
If you're looking for both sporty handling and good fuel economy, you'll find just that in every Rio SX that comes off the assembly line. Thus, "Test Drive" recommends Kia Rio Sedan or Hatchback in the subcompact class.
Likes: Price, warranty, six-speed manual, fuel mileage, fuel mileage
Dislikes: Six-speed manual SX may be tough to find, a few more horses would help.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist)