Used Kia Rio Hatchback 2001 - 2005 review

Category: Small car

Spacious and cheap, but bland in too many ways

Kia Rio Hatchback (01 - 05)
  • Kia Rio Hatchback (01 - 05)
  • Kia Rio Hatchback (01 - 05)
Used Kia Rio Hatchback 2001 - 2005 review
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Steve Huntingford
Published01 January 2006

What's the used Kia Rio hatchback like?

The Rio is not particularly nice to look at, it's not particularly nice to drive and it isn't particularly well finished. In fact, it's pretty bland.

However, although it does nothing particularly well, it does nothing particularly poorly either. It's a decent all-rounder and, most importantly, it's really, really cheap.


Spacious and cheap, but bland in too many ways

  • It's roomy, has a big boot
  • and is cheap to buy
  • It won't excite you, and - even at these prices - the cabin feels cheap

The drive is limited by stodgy handling, with too much body roll in corners and vague steering. Noisy engines lead to problems with refinement, but other mechanical noises are kept well at bay, and the car does ride comfortably at any speed, though.

There's not much adjustment for the seats or steering wheel, but at least there's plenty of space for the car's other occupants, thanks to one of the biggest cabins in the supermini class.

Where the Rio really struggles, however, is cabin quality. The materials are cheap and unappealing, and way off the standards set by European rivals.

Ownership cost

What used Kia Rio hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Kia Rio hatchback?

The Rio was one of the cheapest cars on the market when it was new, and, with residual values being far from spectacular, used models can be picked up for the kind of cash you'd pay for a much older competitor.

However, running costs aren't spectacular for the class, mainly because of the size of the car and the size of the engines. The 1.3 will return an average of 39.8mpg, while the 1.5 will only manage 38.7mpg. Insurance costs are also lower on the 1.3, which is in group 3, whereas the 1.5 is in group 6.

Servicing costs will be where Rio owners lose out. It's one of the costliest superminis to maintain, and that gap in price between the Rio and its mainstream competitors is a bit too large.

Our recommendations

Which used Kia Rio hatchback should I buy?

There are two engines, but neither is particularly capable. Both need to be worked hard to make half-decent progress and are coarse at speed. The 1.3 has 74bhp and is a bit short on flexibility and pace, but it does have the advantage of being cheaper to buy and run. And, although the 1.5 has 97bhp, doesn't perform that much better on the road.

The 1.3 comes in three trims - standard, L and LX. Don't bother with the standard - equipment is so basic that even power steering is omitted. L is slightly more generous, with power steering and height adjustment on the wheel. LX trim adds anti-lock brakes, central locking and electric mirrors. It doesn't cost much more than the L, and the ABS alone is worth the extra cash.

The 1.5 is only available in SE trim, which gives you everything on the LX plus air-con, alloy wheels, electric front windows and seat height adjustment.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Kia Rio hatchback?