2012 Kia Rio Promises Low MSRP And More by Justin Stoltzfus
For all of those American buyers looking for the supreme bargain car, thereís a new choice showing up on American lots. The 2012 Kia Rio five-door subcompact is likely to turn heads, not just for its efficient engineering, but for another low price tag that could help Kia dominate this segment. Kia [...] .. Read More!
Learn more about the all new 2012 Kia Rio with pricing, rebates & incentives, pictures, safety data, technical specifications & more. Select a research category to learn more about the Kia Rio.
Although the Rio sedan and hatchback models share front doors and basic structures, surface cosmetics keep them separate. The sedan mirrors the Optima more, with the pinched center top grille and full-width lower air intake. The hatchback has a much smaller upper grille, almost like an engine air intake rather than cooling, and a deeper lower grille segmented in three sections where the angled side sections meet the flat center. Sedan and hatch models use different headlamp housings, and the SX version of each also gets unique lights, including LED daytime running lights. On both body styles the front wheels are well outboard of the headlights, adding a lower, more aggressive look; it's not mean, nor as comic-like as some small cars.
A pronounced wedge profile in side view shares a deep front door window, and ahead of the mirror, a small triangular piece of fixed glass that's quite useful for driver vision. The top crease of the scallop in the door panels echoes the windshield pillar line and fairs rearward, on the sedan leading directly to the top of the taillight. Combined with the slender roof pillar and minimal painted surfaces above the lamps, the sedan has an elegant, light, tailored look, disguising the substantial trunk height.
On the hatch the roof line tapers down, pinching the rear windows, one reason the Rio hatch does not have more rear-seat headroom than the sedan. The short rear panels wrap around into the hatch, the lights protruding slightly (but still well inside the bumper) for better all-around viewing and staying cleaner in bad weather. On SX models, the taillights have LED elements.
The hatchback's rear window is close to horizontal at the top edge, fitted with a small spoiler, and close to a semicircular arc along the bottom edge, reminiscent of the grinning grille on some Mazdas. A dark close-out panel sweeps up from behind the rear wheels serves to visually lower and widen both models. And on both cars the license plate is in this recess, not the hatch or trunk lid, so you never hear it rattle. With trunk or hatch open some portion of the taillights and low-mount reflectors remain visible to improve night-loading safety.
Compared with the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit, and Toyota Yaris, the Rio has a longer wheelbase but shorter overall length, and it's wider and lower than most. Extra wheelbase helps ride quality and stability, but a longer wheelbase with a shorter overall length also means shorter overhangs front and rear. All these dimension play into how the Rio comes across a bit sportier than most other subcompacts. The other aspect is that few competitors offer big 17-inch wheels.