Stick Shift: 2018 Kia Rio EX

For 2018, the Kia Rio underwent a full redesign. And well, it went pretty good. The little Rio has always been a subcompact go-getter, with nimble handling, good interior design and a reputation for reliability. The new model year adds extra standard and safety features like power door locks, automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning. Though power windows and cruise control haven’t made the list of standard equipment yet. There’s also no navigation to be found, though Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, paired to a very user-friendly infotainment system, help make up some ground. 

Once you’ve nestled in behind the wheel, you’ll be delighted, and perhaps a little surprised to discover ample headroom in the premium cloth covered back and front seats, and sufficient leg room as well. This is unless front occupants have the seats pushed all the way back of course. High-grade materials, like a leather wrapped shift knob and steering wheel are scattered amongst the otherwise elaborate mosaic of plastics. However, a solid build quality and overall stylish design help the new Kia Rio EX achieve a substantial feeling of value. An intuitive 7” touchscreen infotainment system in the EX trim, with multiple USB ports, bluetooth and smart phone integration will scratch the tech itch of most. 

Photo via: Kia

What the little 1.6L four-cylinder engine lacks in size, it makes up for in an eagerness to please. Already measuring out 130 hp, at times it feels like it’s making more, as it accelerates with purpose, climbing hills and passing cars with relative ease. The suspension is firm, aiding the nimble and responsive driving characteristics, without compromising day to day comfort too much. Everything considered, the Kia Rio is definitely one of the more athletic options in the subcompact car ranks; which includes hits like the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta and others. 

Competition aside, if the shape and size of the Kia Rio is right for you, it’s spirited driving characteristics, good list of standard features, incredible warranties and below-average starting price will have you ending your search for an affordable new car early.

Price as tested: $19,725.00

By: Brandon Randall 

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