2012 Kia Rio SX: Cool Styling Plus Good Fuel-Economy

2012 Kia Rio

Completely Redesigned for 2012

If you haven’t noticed, the South Koreans have the Japanese and everyone else in the automotive world looking over their proverbial shoulders. Kia, who is owned by Hyundai Motor Group is bringing new and innovative cars and designs to the market faster than any other carmaker. And it’s not just quantity, but the South Korean auto company is producing quality cars.

The 2012 Kia Rio is is yet another example of what Hyundai and Kia are bringing to the automotive world. The Kia Rio is completely redesigned for the 2012 model year and will compete with anyone in the subcompact segment. It comes with all the right numbers, in terms of power, fuel-efficiency, and price. It even comes with the style and refinement found in more expensive cars.

Ready to Compete With Anyone

The Kia Rio comes in two body styles, a four-door sedan and Rio five-door hatchback versions. We’ll be testing the five-door hatchback SX model ($17,700) that competes in the subcompact segment against the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, and Toyota Yaris. The Kia Rio has styling that will surely appeal to the millennial generation that Kia is going after.

And the little subcompact has both function and appeal with an interior that features a soft-touch dash and door panels, matte-silver trim, height-adjustable driver’s seat and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. The Rio SX comes with amenities that include an exterior temperature indication, map lights, and covered visor vanity mirrors on both sides. Cargo space is the five-door is reasonably good and can be expanded by folding the split rear seats flat.

Has a Youthful Energy 

The 2012 Kia Rio is fun to drive and has a youthful spirit and energy about it. The Rio is offered with only one engine, but it’s a good one. The 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine uses direct fuel injection, which yields good power and fuel economy. The Rio’s 138 horsepower and 123 lb. ft. of torque is better than anything in the non-turbo class. Fuel economy is a strong selling point for the Rio. EPA numbers are 30/40 mpg city/highway, which are unmatched by anything in the subcompact segment.

The Kia Rio uses a six-speed automatic where competitors only offer a four or five-speed transmission. The extra gear allows for better acceleration and lower highway engine rpm’s which help in performance and fuel-efficiency.  On the road, the Rio feels quite comfortable and the sport-tuned suspension is tight without being too firm, and the Rio feels stable at high speeds.

Top-Of-The-Line SX Extras

The Kia Rio SX gets the top of the line in luxury and sportiness, by adding bigger front brakes, a sport-tuned suspension with firmer settings, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The extras give the Rio a sportier look on the outside, and improved performance on the road with added responsiveness for more spirited drivers. If you are more inclined to get where you are going quickly, SX buyers will find the features more to their liking and pay the features-heavy price premium to get them.

The Kia Rio SX is a good choice in the subcompact segment because it does a lot of things well. It gets excellent fuel economy, it’s fun to drive, has a sports car mentality and the hatchback is highly functional.

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About The Author

Denis Flierl has over twenty five years combined auto industry and automotive journalism experience that he brings to Automoblog readers. Over the thirteen years that he owned an automotive business, he worked directly with every major car brand in the auto industry and became familiar with all makes and models of cars. His passion for cars led him to spend the last twelve years in automotive journalism where he brings all that experience to his readers as he writes about the auto industry and the latest test cars he drives.

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