Kia Rio: Great Car for Under $15k

March 23 2020

The Kia Rio has been around for a while but has acquired the reputation of being an auto that’s poor quality and somehow inferior to many of the other vehicles on the road. Its crime? Being available to buy brand new for an audacious price that comes in at less than $15k. For some, the great value price tag is sufficient to dismiss the car out of hand, even without driving it for themselves. However, while it’s certainly true that the Kia Rio isn’t sold as a car that’s spilling over with luxury features, that doesn’t mean it’s not a top buy. In fact, if you delve deeper into what’s included in the low price, you might be pleasantly surprised at just how good the little Kia really is. 

The 2018 Rio is the fourth generation of this car, and Kia have managed to include equipment that really has no place in an economy vehicle. For example, soundproofing is included which provides a quiet and relaxing ride even when driving at high speeds. Kia are keen to shake off their reputation for being basic and have strived to add as much to the Rio as they can.

There are two different models available for 2018, the sedan and five-door hatchback. The latter is just $200 more and instantly increases the headroom, luggage capacity and provides an all-round sportier look too. The fact that the 2018 Rio has a longer wheelbase also helps and when combined with the hatchback car is slightly bigger all round. If you’re looking for a city commuter car and don’t need to worry too much about space in the back seat, the Rio could tick all the boxes. 

Unlike elsewhere Kia are still offering the stick-shift so you won’t have to drive an automatic transmission if you’d rather not. This is one of the ways that Kia saves money but it’s a hit with drivers too. In fact, their manual transmission is pretty good, even if it’s not the sportiest around. The gearbox is very forgiving which makes the Rio easy to drive; if you are struggling with an automatic transmission elsewhere, Kia might have the answer. 

The fundamental structure of the car has seen improvements too, with Kia utilizing technology known as Advanced High Strength Steel. This reinforces key points of the car adding strength while simultaneously reducing the weight. Kia has a commitment to shed 5% of its average vehicle weight by 2020, so this is a step in the right direction. It’s not just better for the environment though, the structure of the Rio provides a suspension that’s more responsive and resilient, as well as being safer. You’ll notice the difference that all of these design changes had made when you’re driving across some of Canada’s toughest surfaces; you won’t be shaken around and can just sit back and enjoy a smooth ride. 

Inside the cabin, Kia have focused on comfort so even in the depths of a Canadian winter, you’ll feel cosseted from the cold. If you want to jump up to a higher trim level you can even enjoy heated seats and a heated steering wheel as standard. The dash is clean and stylish, achieving a minimalist look that doesn’t appear cheap. The Kia UVO service is included, using the Bell network and your cellphone to keep tabs on your vehicle. If the worst happens the centre in Ontario will be contacted automatically to get help and raise the alarm. This service is included for free, for a total of five years - that’s an extra which is beyond impressive and far more fitting to a car that costs more. 

Overall, the Kia has a surprising number of comfort features, performs well on the road and will keep drivers and passengers both happy. Admittedly there’s not a vast amount of space in the back seat but it’s passable for short distances and the trunk space is impressive, especially in the hatchback. With reliability and great value for money, the Rio is one car which is far better than its detractors appreciate.