2007 Kia Rio Expert Review

You'll Like The 2007 Kia Rio If...

If you're seeking a fuel-efficient small car that is affordable, stylish, roomy and well equipped, the Rio sedan makes a great choice. Those worried about long-term reliability can take comfort in the Rio's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

You May Not Like The 2007 Kia Rio If...

If finding a car with the highest fuel efficiency, best resale value and strongest customer satisfaction survey responses are more important than a low sticker price, purchasing a Nissan, Scion or Honda may be a better choice.

What's New

A new trim, the SX, is added to the lineup and features 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, rear spoiler, sport seats with black mesh inserts and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

Interior Features

Although five passengers can squeeze into the Rio, longer-legged folks might not be comfortable in the backseat. Rear head- and foot room are adequate, but the rear seat is hard and reclines excessively, and the center occupant straddles a tunnel. Front occupants get ample space on supportive and well-cushioned seats. The Rio's trunk has grown to 11.9 cubic feet, and with the LX trim can be expanded thanks to the 60/40-split folding rear seat. Helpful extras include a dashboard slot that can hold a parking ticket, plus a hook that can carry a purse.

Exterior Features

Although designed in South Korea, the Rio's European-influenced appearance imparts a sporty and youthful character into an entry-level automobile. It's bigger than the previous generation in every dimension except overall length, it has a better-tuned suspension and a wider track than the last model - which deliver a more enjoyable road experience - and it weighs less, besides. The Rio rides on 14-inch steel wheels and the upper-level LX is equipped with full-wheel covers and wider tires, while the new SX can be equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels.

Driving Impressions

Ride comfort and easy maneuverability head the list of Rio merits. Even when the pavement gets troublesome, Kia's suspension absorbs considerable roughness. Steering is light, but the Rio is delightfully nimble in urban environments, tracks adeptly on straightaways and is easy to guide into turns. Through curves the body doesn't lean as much as might be expected. Performance is improved but is no more than adequate with the mannerly automatic transmission. Although the engine gets seriously buzzy when accelerating, it quiets nicely at speed. A low cowl and sizable rear glass help create nearly unobstructed visibility.

Pricing Notes

The Rio has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $11,350, while the LX stickers for $13,275. An automatic transmission adds another $850. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows the Rio is actually selling for about $400 over dealer invoice. Be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price before you buy to see what other people in your area are currently paying for their Rios. The Rio's resale value falls below the values held by the Hyundai Accent and Suzuki Reno, and far below those expected for the Scion xA and Nissan Versa.

Notable Equipment

The Rio features a 1.6-liter engine, five-speed manual transmission, body-colored bumpers, auto-off headlamps, rear defroster, variable wipers, height-adjustable driver's seat, tachometer, dual sun visors with vanity mirrors, dual cup holders, front side-impact airbags and full-length side-curtain airbags. The LX trim adds air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with CD, power steering, full wheel covers, tilt steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seat and rear-seat adjustable headrests. SX models include 15-inch alloy wheels, sport seats with red trim, fog lights and a rear spoiler.

Notable Options

Options for the Rio include a four-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), dual heated power mirrors, power windows, power locks with remote keyless entry, front tweeter upgrade and a rear spoiler.

Favorite Features

Six Standard Airbags
If Kia can put side-impact airbags and curtain-type airbags into every Rio, one wonders why other automakers have made these important safety features optional - if available at all.

Automatic Transmission
Unlike some small cars with automatics, the Rio goes through the gears promptly and easily, with no awkwardness or lurching. Shifts are barely noticed, in fact, though the manual transmission can deliver slightly more spirited acceleration.

Under the Hood

Kia has raised the power of its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which drives either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Although Kia has made major improvements in noise, vibration and harshness, the Rio's engine is still buzzy at high speed and lacks the smoothness and refinement of its Japanese competitors. Fuel economy is excellent, approaching 40 miles per gallon when equipped with the four-speed automatic.

1.6-liter in-line 4
110 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
107 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 32/35 (manual), 29/38 (automatic)

Editors' Notes

Consumers on budgets have learned that finding a new car for under $12,000 is not easy. And finding one with standard front and rear side-curtain airbags and a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty leaves only one option: The Kia Rio. The Rio's bargain-basement price doesn't come at the expense of styling or fuel economy. The handsome little four-door is quite the looker, and those willing to spend a bit more cash can equip this little entry-level econobox with such upscale features as power windows, AM/FM/CD stereo and heated outside mirrors. The Rio also makes great strides in refinement over previous models, with more precision in the gearshift, less vibration from under the hood and a higher quality feel both inside and out.

Video Reviews

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2007 Kia Rio

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