Kia Rio review

Category: Small car

Section: Costs & verdict

Available fuel types:petrol
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Kia Rio 2021 RHD infotainment
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RRP £13,650What Car? Target Price from£12,913
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Costs & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

At first glance, the Kia Rio seems good value when compared with the likes of the Skoda Fabia, Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio, but only the least recommendable engine and trim combination actually undercuts them on price.

However, grade ‘2’ trim still looks like decent value due to its high equipment levels (which we’ve outlined in the equipment section below), plus you get access to the punchy 1.0-litre turbocharged engine (badged 1.0 T-GDi). Disappointingly, if you want the more frugal, mild-hybrid version of the same engine, you have to step up to grade ‘3’ trim, but that pushes the price of the Rio too close to more desirable and even greener options such as the Toyota Yaris or Honda Jazz. 

The Yaris and Jazz are also predicted to hold onto a significantly larger proportion of their value over the lifetime of the car. And if you’re a company car buyer, their lower official CO2 emissions mean they will also cost you less in company-car tax.

Equipment, options and extras

Opt for entry-level ‘1’ grade and you get air-conditioning, front electric windows, heated electric door mirrors, Bluetooth phone connectivity, automatic lights and a multi-function steering wheel. 

In light of that model not giving you AEB, though, we suggest moving up to ‘2’ trim, which is our favourite Rio trim level. Doing so also gives you 15in alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel and gear knob, rear electric windows, electric folding mirrors, cruise control and the 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system we mentioned earlier. At the top of the ‘normal’ trims is ‘3’. This adds larger 16in alloys, climate control, faux-leather seats that are heated up front, plus a heated steering wheel, automatic wipers and the connected features described in the infotainment section.

The range is topped by GT-Line S trim, which gets sporty cosmetic touches such as 17in alloy wheels, gloss black exterior highlights, a rear spoiler, LED front and rear fog lights, twin exhaust tips, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, faux carbon-fibre interior trim, aluminium pedals, keyless start, front parking sensors and a blind-spot warning system.

Kia Rio 2021 RHD infotainment

Reliability

The Rio didn’t feature specifically in the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, but Kia finished a strong 7th out of 31 manufacturers as a brand, above Ford and Volkswagen, but behind Skoda. 

If things go wrong with your Rio, you have the peace of mind that its warranty is valid for an industry-leading seven years or 100,000 miles. If you sell the car within this period, you can transfer the warranty to the next owner, too.

Safety and security

The entry-level ‘1’ trim is the only Rio trim level that doesn’t include automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning and lane-keeping assistance. As a result, safety experts Euro NCAP gave it only a three-star rating. That rating is increased to the full five stars on ‘2’ trim and above, which has these vital systems as standard. You can also add them to ‘1’ trim by opting for the reasonably priced safety pack. All models get six airbags and hill-start assist. 

Experts Thatcham awarded the Rio four stars (out of five) for resisting theft, and only three stars for resisting a break-in – both results are lower than most rivals’ scores.

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Overview

The Kia Rio is a promising small car with price on its side, while its turbocharged engines are perfectly competent both around town and at faster motorway speeds. It’s a shame the entry-level trim does without AEB, but grade ‘2’ trim comes with plenty of kit, gives you access to our favourite 1.0-litre turbocharged engine and keeps the Rio’s price competitive. We’d avoid stepping up to the mild-hybrid version of the same engine as it’s only available as part of grade ‘3’ trim and this pushes the Rio’s price too close to more desirable and even more efficient rivals such as the Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris hybrid.

  • "2" trim and above are well equipped
  • Spacious rear-seat space and boot
  • Class leading warranty
  • Fidgety ride in town
  • So-so handling
  • Mild hybrid engine is only available with pricier trim levels

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