By on October 5, 2006

rio2006_3.jpgThere are three basic ways you can build a low-priced automobile. You can use lower-cost materials (and workforce). You can limit the standard features. Or you can keep variations to a minimum. When making the Rio, one of the lowest priced cars sold in American, Kia employed all three strategies. Is that a good thing? It depends entirely on where you draw the line between “cheap” and “inexpensive.”

In terms of looks, let’s go with inexpensive. As you might expect, the Rio is a blend of every styling cue known to man; from a Ford front grill with Honda Fit-style supersized headlights, to an Audi-esque rear pillar, to a vaguely Volksy rear. Strangely, it works. The only external indication that the car costs chump change is its Gallic “ass in the air” stance and the fact that the teeny tiny 14” wheels fail to fill up the teeny tiny wheel arches. It’s not what you’d call a compelling design, but neither does it scream blue rinse brigade like the Toyota Corolla– which the Rio also sort of maybe kinda resembles.

rio_03.jpgInside, you’re greeted by a surprisingly handsome two-tone color scheme, which is especially not completely unattractive in beige. The best and only important thing you can say about the switchgear and controls is that they’re all present and accounted for, positioned exactly where you’d expect them to be, doing precisely what they should be doing. The jumbo-sized, sprocket-shaped seat control knobs are a nice touch in a cabin otherwise (and unsurprisingly) devoid of nice touches. But the best news is that there’s plenty of room in driver’s throne. My 6’3” carcass slotted behind the wheel without short or long term injury.

The rear seat, however, is a whole ‘nother story: How My Teenage Child Lost His Legs in a Kia. With the front seat adjusted to accommodate anyone taller than Tom Cruise, rear leg room is literally nonexistent. Compounding matters, the rear seat squab is made from Nerf balls; the seat immediately collapses along the edge when you put weight on it. Despite the two-seaterness of the thing, the Rio’s interior is fairly nice for a car in this price class, and light years ahead of anything GM offers in an entry level car (I’ve got an Ion you).

rio2006_2.jpgThe Rio is somewhat motivated by a 1.6-liter 110hp four-banger. Obviously, the car’s target audience only needs to know two things: mileage (32/35 with a five-speed manual) and reliability (a five year, 60k mile bumper-to-bumper warranty says relax). Rio intenders may also be interested to hear that the Rio’s engine at full throttle makes it just about impossible to hear. Think of it as a fuel economy measure; penny pinchers will keep their foot off the throttle just to reduce the noise levels below that of a Cessna during take off. At least the Rio’s engine roar helps drown out some of the road noise from the skinny tires.

The zero to sixty amble takes forever. The handling is… what are you nuts? It doesn’t fall over, and anyone who manages to generate enough speed to make the Rio’s tires squeal gets what they deserve. OK? Let’s stay focused here.

rio2006_1.jpgRio buyers choose between two trim levels (for some reason, Kia treats the hatchback Rio5 as a separate model). The base Rio– which dealers stock in small numbers to advertise ultra-low prices– clocks in at a little above $11K. You get a manual transmission, no radio or AC and manual windows (remember them?). For roughly $2K more, you get a chiller and tunes, power steering, tilting steering column and fold-down rear seats that add capacity to the spacious trunk. Add the $600 “power package” and you get power windows, locks and mirrors.  An autobox’ll run you another $850. By now, you’re in the mid-teens, bumping into the lower end of the price range of larger, better-equipped cars, both new and “recently loved.”

This creates a quandary. If you need basic, fuel-sipping transportation for commuting or a reasonably safe first car for your teen, and you must have a new car, and can live without automatic transmission, power gadgets and AC, the base Rio’s price, full array of air bags and excellent warranty make it worth a look. If like most drivers, you want AC and automatic transmission along with the convenience of locking all your doors and adjusting your mirrors without playing Twister, you’ll have to go to the more expensive LX. At that price your selections broaden to late model Civics and Corollas, new Fits and Yaris’ and clearance-priced American-brand intermediates. When you throw the Rio into that mix, the warranty is the only thing in its favor. Unfortunately for Kia, when compared to these “inexpensive” cars, the “low cost” Rio comes off as “cheap.” So now you know.

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67 Comments on “Kia Rio Review...”


  • avatar
    blautens

    Our local Chevy dealer was blowing out 2 door Cobalts in a loss leader recently, and my coworker (who is fascianted by loss leaders) picked one up as a commuter car. For $9999 (plus tax and some made up fees) he got a 5 speed Cobalt with AC (but no power windows or locks).

    I spent some time in the Cobalt, and I’d venture to say the Kia Rio still might be a better deal if it were $2000 more similarly equipped – there’s no joy in stripper Cobalt. But I’ve never driven the littlest Kia.

    Frank have you had the good “luck” to drive the stripper bowtie?

  • avatar
    miked

    I probably would never consider the Rio (maybe I should though – it could be like a Corolla from the early 80′s – cheap and last forever). I’m just glad they still make cars without power windows or locks.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    Nope, haven’t driven a base Cobalt. But if I had to choose between a base Rio and a base Cobalt for about the same price, I’d go with the Cobalt just to get the AC and power steering.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I… I guess I’m out of touch, but why do peopleNOT llike power locks or windows again? I just… that just makes no sense to me,

    Anyone?

    And don’t say weight.

  • avatar
    maxo

    If anyone is so strapped for cash that they are looking at new $11k cars you should really just look into some very decent post-depreciation used cars and avoid the new car markup. Is the 5 year warranty really worth that much to justify buying this? It seems to me the answer is no.

    I don’t know much about car warranties and how useful they are (article idea?). I’ve never owned a new car. How often is a powertrain warranty used? Don’t most cars have relatively impervious powertrains assuming there were no defects in production? The same thing goes for the bumper to bumper warranty, it seems like it is mostly used to fix manufacturing defects. When buying a used car in the same price range (maybe 2 – 5 years old), I would think most defects have been found and dealt with. Do these warranty fixable problems pop up years after the car has been bought? Maybe the real reason for buying a Rio is a fear of getting burned on a used car with problems and feeling like a shameful inferior consumer.

    Also, don’t these modern superlong warranties transfer to the new owner of a used car, or do they have some trickery to take it away when the original owner sells it?

  • avatar
    miked

    Jonny – It’s just one more thing to break. Or if it does break, it’s much easier to fix on my own. It’s much easier to diagnose a mechanical problem than an electrical one. I prefer reliability, simplicity, and reparibility (is that even a word) over convenience and comfort. I realize that other people may not feel the same way, and that’s totally fine. I just want to have the option to get a stripper version of a car and let the other people get the highter trim level.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I realize it’s a far cry from what you’re used to, but I was hoping to get more out of this review.

    Through college and my first year of work I drove a ’91 Tercel and then a ’92 Sentra E (both with 4-speed stickshifts, manual steering, etc) and it was clear that even at that price point there are appreciable differences between cars. The Tercel had a terrible, pathetic engine, but much less-bad interior quality – e.g. no exposed screws on the door panels, much better steering, a better transmission, and some other details. Very cheap, but with hints of effort. The Sentra was more of a real car but felt less like someone cared. I would’ve liked to know which the Rio feels like.

    Oh, and people in crappy cars try to enjoy the driving experience too. No need to totally dismiss handling, steering, shifting, and engine response.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Maxo,
    I’m with you. The fact that people buy these things tells me that the car manufacturers and dealers haven’t done a good job spreading the word about CPO.

    A Certified Pre-Owned 3 year old Civic, Corolla, or even Focus would strike me as a much better vehicle, and would carry a factory warranty.

    Jonny,
    20 years ago, the argument for manual window cranks was that they were less likely to break down than electric lifts. I think the quality surge of the past 2 decades has largely fixed this.

    I am still haunted by the idea of being trapped in a car underwater and unable to lower the shorted electric window lifts, but I worry too much in general.

  • avatar

    How much does it weigh?

    This could make an awesome little “people’s car” if fitted with an small turbo-Diesel. Think about it: >50 MPG, low price, reliability.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    Ford dropped their dismal Aspire in the early nineties for this very reason: people with $10,000 to spend were going to buy a slightly used Civic. This goes a long way towards saying something about brand image – people feel that a used Honda is superior to a new Ford. Still there is some portion of the public that is totally ignorant of things electrical or mechanical and want the security that “new” provides along with the warranty.

    Wires. We hate wires. I can (theoretically) drive my 81 Volks diesel coast to coast without a battery or alternator (or lights or a radio) and can still roll down the windows and adjust the seat.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    This could make an awesome little “people’s car” if fitted with an small turbo-Diesel. Think about it: >50 MPG, low price, reliability.

    Chuck,

    Unless they can be mass produced in serious numbers, I think the price of a diesel would kick it out of the “people’s car” category. And the additional 15mpg, when offset against diesel fuel’s higher price, would not be enough to make up for the additional cost of the diesel engine, to say nothing of some of the problems buyers in the snow belt might encounter with extremely cold temperatures (seeing as how budget buyers often don’t have a garage to park in.)

    Hey, I love diesels too, but the difficulties of integrating diesel into the car market are almost as difficult as those of switching to alternative fuels like ethanol.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    Cars like this Rio fit into the same slot Corollas and Civcs did in the ’80s: A great choice for your “first new car,” when you were tired of driving beaters. The 5yr/60k warranty helps support the choice.

    But I wonder. With the Fit/Yaris/Versa around as suitable price-point alternatives for someone who perceives higher quality from Japan, how will the Rio stack up?

    Which would you buy if this price range for new was your directive, Frank?

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    Update to my last:

    One of these days, I hope small diesels will be as common in the US as they are in other parts of the world. But there will have to be a sea change in US attitudes towards cars, as well as environmental regulations, before that happens.

  • avatar
    der_rote_tornado

    I recently bought a Suzuki Forenza, base model 4 door, 5sp. $11k out the door. It was made in Korea, has a Holden 4 cyl, 16 valve engine. It came standard with power locks and winders. Also 4 wheel discs, AC, and a cd player. More room in the back than a Civic or Corolla. It’s a pretty nice, cheap car and I was between jobs and needed a reliable commuter. The 7 yr/100k mile warranty is transferable. I actually like the styling too. I think it was done by Pininfarina. You can’t find a decent used Civic or Corolla for $11k where I live.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Tornado,
    Congrats on the car. Hope you enjoy it.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    The base Rio weighs 2,242 lbs. The complete warranty coverage is:

    10-year or 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty
    5-year or 60,000 mile limited basic warranty
    5-year or 100,000 mile limited anti-perforation warranty
    5/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan
    1 year/12,000-mile tire & wheel road hazard coverage

    The 10 year warranty is not transferrable. the 5-year warranty is.

    Which price range are you referring to, Joe C? In the $10-11K range the base Rio falls into I wouldn’t look at new cars. I’d look for the latest model, lowest mileage Civic or Corolla I could find for the price. In the $14-15K range a fully equipped LX falls into I’d have a Fit.

  • avatar
    MR42HH

    Kia already has a 110hp Rio diesel in Europe, so they could just offer that one if there really was demand for a diesel.
    The price difference between the 1.6 and the diesel is just 490 €, so cost wouldn’t be the problem…

  • avatar
    SloStang

    I personally prefer crank windows over power windows. If I want to crack the window open, it always takes a half turn of the crank. With power windows, you get into a game of trying to tap the button to lower the window slightly, and not activate the express down feature.

    And don’t get me started on how many times I’ve taken the key out of the ignition only to realize I forgot to close the windows.

    The only thing I really like about power windows is they allow me to open the rear windows for the dog. I guess my ideal car would have power (remote) windows in the rear, and a crank window for the driver.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    I wish that all cars were still available with power windows, etc. as an option. Personally, I only need/want power mirrors and AC. Where I live, much of the summer is spent above 100 F, and while I’ve heard of people around here without AC in their cars (I’ve actually got a classic Chevy without AC), it’s no fun. Things like electric windows, heated seats, and the dreaded auto transmission, I can do without. It’s fine with me if you want them, but I wish I didn’t have to pay for a power package with eight different features that I don’t want just to get one that I do want. So, I guess the reason that I don’t like power door locks, windows, etc. is i don’t like paying for something I don’t need or want. If I lived where it was cooler, I wouldn’t want AC either.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Go on craigslist and see what $11k will get you. Granted you’ll be paying cash up front, but you can get a dream car for that dough, I mean a used lexus, beamer, merc, or even a used rsx. You would have to be really light in the brain dept. to spend $11k on a new kia with absolutely $0 resale value.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I… I still have no clue why anyone would want a crank.

    Trapped under water?

    Driving coast to coast without a battery?

    Being able to fix it?

    “I still like my old ice-box, because I know in the event of a power outage, I can take my horse and buggy down to the general store to get 90 pounds of ice — that will keep my venison cold-ish.”

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    Some people will always go for new cars, even if a better used vehicle is cheaper. As well as the peace of mind of not having to worry about it breaking for the next five years, there’s the reduced hassle factor (excluding the greasy salesman). It’s one stop to sell your old car, get a new one and arrange payments, no matter how badly they rip you off. I’ve driven out of dealers in a new car without paying a penny, just the promise that I will in the future. Banks charge higher rates for used car loans and with some dealers giving 0% financing the monthly payments for a new car can be less than a used. Monthly payments are still the prime motivation in this segment, no matter how short-sighted that may be.

    Regarding diesels : my sister in the UK has a brand new Renault diesel minivan-like thing. It still sounds like an old school bus, smells like an old school bus and accelerates like an old school bus. Stand on any street corner in Europe and listen to the cars clatter by while you cough. The European ‘diesel revolution’ is hyped because the people, forced into a corner by excessive fuel taxes, are sacrificing air and driving quality for cash.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    The one advantage (besides the warranty) the Rio has over most used cars in the same price range is the safety (or perception thereof) provided by 6 airbags. The presence of front side and side curtain airbags means a lot to some people.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    I… I still have no clue why anyone would want a crank.

    Trapped under water?

    Driving coast to coast without a battery?

    Being able to fix it?

    Ever had power windows fail? In the down position in the middle of nowhere with snow coming in? With a child in the back seat? I haven’t had this happen to me, primarily because my Subaru is the first vehicle I’ve ever owned with power windows, but on my old SUV (Mistubishi Montero) I saw that exact scenario unfold for another driver while 4-wheeling in the Red-Rock country of Utah on Easter of 1999. Last I saw he was taping plastic over his window and hoping it wouldn’t snow too bad.

    Power windows are a “top of the food chain” feature. When they work, they’re great. When they don’t, they’re not only expensive, but a PITA to fix. And yes, the stock answer to that is to say “manual windows can fail, too.” Of course they can, but a car has to be a real beater for the manual windows to fail. I’ve owned some crap cars in my day, but the manual windows always worked.

    I’ll agree that power windows are better now than they have been in the past, but I’m also glad that you can still get a vehicle without them.

  • avatar
    SloStang

    Jonny, On the flip side, I haven’t figured out what’s so great about power windows, or for that matter, nav systems, power seats, and delayed lighting (this bugs the @&*@ out of me, I feel obligated to wait for the interior light to go out when leaving the car, especially since we used to have a car with a marginal door switch and it wouldn’t always go out).

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Let’s see, on my 1972 Mercedes play car, the power windows work just fine. 34 years. Gosh, I hope they’ll be reliable.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    How about a strippo Ford Focus 3 door – what do they run after rebates?

    Or better yet, get a one year old Focus on the cheap – might be a rental, but so are a lot of used Kia’s anymore.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Yeah, once I had a power window fail in a Nissan Sentra and I pulled out my leatherman, grabbed the top of the window and pulled it up.

    Took 15 seconds.

    Power windows are great because they are safer. Cranking down your passenger or rear windows while driving is just dangerous. And don’t say that you pull your vehicle over to raise and lower your windows.

    I just… I can’t believe many of you are aware that it is 2006.

    Late 2006.

  • avatar
    der_rote_tornado

    SherbornSean:
    October 5th, 2006 at 12:54 pm

    “Tornado,
    Congrats on the car. Hope you enjoy it.”

    Sean,

    Wasn’t looking for props from the car snobs here. What I enjoy is knowing my wife and kids are riding around in a safe, reliable car that didn’t cost too much. When I can afford a fun car, I’ll get another GTI.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    Jonny: Some people like shifting their own gears, too. Even though it is 2006 and all…

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    Maybe manual crank windows aren’t exactly the answer, but why does well-built always have to be feature-packed. So lexus leads the quality/reliability charts. Why does a BASE model IS250 come with a sunroof and leather and cost $30K+. Why does quality inevitably lead to luxury?

    Can’t someone make a featureless interior that is pleasant to be in? Make the buttons click like an Audi’s–just put fewer of them in there. For air conditioning, give me an on switch and a knob that goes from blue to red. For the fan, a knob that goes from off to 4. and that’s it. i don’t need climatronic, i don’t need dual zone anything. i don’t need rain-sensing, proximity-warning, led-illuminated, nuclear-powered RFID map lights. I do need a good car that feels good and doesn’t cost a fortune. and it can’t break either.
    heck, gimme exposed screws–that way i can replace something without hunting down 50 snap clips i can’t see. just make them stainless steel…

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    Haaahaa, good one Martin.

    Dunno about the Kia, but in the Accent (same car, no?) you can still raise and lower the power windows with the engine turned off, until the door is opened.

    My 11 year old Mazda has power windows that function perfectly. My 10 year old truck’s manual driver’s side window froze this past winter and the internal regulator snapped when I attempted to crank it. It was an exericise in anger management repairing that sucker.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    I like crank window for a different reason: you can operate it when you don’t have the key in, so if you have passangers waiting in the car, they can operate it without the key.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Well, Martin, you’ve obviously never driven coast to coast in a snowstorm while underwater in a car with power windows that were about to break.

  • avatar
    pfingst

    Lumbergh21: I’m with you on the option package thing. It’s annoying when you want, say, power seats, but to get them you have to get the 1500 sunroof package, too. My personal favorite is navigation systems. Usually the only way to get the navigation system is to stump for the “premium/sport/some other pricey” package, plus the $2500 navigation system on top of it (Infiniti G35, I’m looking at YOU). Mercedes (on the C-Class) and BMW (on the 3-series) don’t do this; you can get just about any combination of things you want. They do have option packages, but pretty much everything in the packages come unbundled, too.

    I understand that manufacturers try to limit the combinations of options to help them control costs, but things like this are still annoying.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I refuse to beleive that people honestly do not like power windows.

    This is insane.

    Now, sunroofs…. they need to go.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    So let’s see… to give Lieberman a total stroke, just offer him a ride in a crew cab duelly pickup equipped with crank operated windows and a sunroof…

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Just as long as the fifth-wheel gets in the way of the dirt hauling…

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    I refuse to beleive that people honestly do not like power windows.

    This is insane.

    Our old buddy Gearhead 455 said it in a post last month: There are people out there who are not like you, and who have no desire to be like you.

    There are people who prefer Jeeps to sports cars. There are people who prefer hiking boots to polished shoes. There are people who prefer Yellowstone to Hollywood. I could go on but there’s no point.

    And yes, Jonny, there are people who prefer roll-up windows to power windows. Believe it.

    I’m a little bit country, you’re a little bit rock n’ roll. Now that that’s resolved, can we get back to talking about cars?

  • avatar
    lzaffuto

    While we’re on the topic of windows, I miss those triangular vent windows that you could open and rotate out to get a great breeze in your car. I know they kill gas mileage, but sometimes you just like to enjoy the outside air without running the A/C (for more power) and they provided much more cool air than the vent system does. Usually vent air comes from somewhere around the engine compartment so if the A/C is off it’s much hotter than the ambient temp. Even if most people wouldn’t use it because they leave the A/C on 24×7 and never open the windows, a lot of cars have a triangular window there already… so really how much more money would it cost them to make it pivot open for those of us that would like to have it?

    Secondly, sunroofs? I *LOVE* sunroofs. Every previous car I owned had one in it(except the Miata… it didn’t need one obviously). I used it almost every day. Now I have a 350z that doesn’t have one, and I really miss it. I spent a week in the Smokies and on the Tail of the Dragon and I wanted one so bad that now I’m thinking of installing an aftermarket unit. Targa or T-tops would be even better, but you can’t have everything I guess.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Martin — sure.

    All CARS should have power windows.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Why does a window have to be power operated to fail? I can remember plenty of issues with crank style windows growing up in 60′s and 70′s Detroit iron…the cranks would spin freely without operating the windows, the windows would fall out of their tracks, the weather stripping would rot and jam the track, etc. – never underestimate Detriot’s ability to fubar things.

  • avatar
    SloStang

    I refuse to beleive that people honestly do not like power windows.

    This is insane.

    You want insane? I used to have an ’80 Chevette with crank windows, no A/C, no power steering or power brakes. For a while the window washers didn’t work, so I kept a squirt bottle on the passenger seat and when I’d reach a red light I’d lean out the window, spray the windshield, and hit the wipers.

    That was my favorite car ever, mostly because it only cost $500 to buy and took whatever beatings I gave it. I also autocrossed it, regularly beating escorts and MGs. Anything that broke or wore out was very cheap to fix (if they advertised tires for $19.99 and up, I got them for $19.99 :-)

    I think new cars today are simply too complicated and costly to be properly enjoyed. If that makes me insane, so be it.

  • avatar
    Studedude1961

    As you can see from my screen name I prefer older cars built in South Bend, Indiana. For the record, many folks who do not like power windows were either raised by or had parents raised by Great Depression survivors whose credo was “Avoid the complicated. If something goes wrong it will cost a King’s ransom to fix.” Also, those of us 40-ish and older likely remember looking at used cars 20 or even 10 years ago where 3 out of 4 electric windows worked (and the used car salesman who said 3 out of 4 ain’t bad). With most everything on a modern car electronic nowadays, the power windows are the least of our worry. That being said, I still prefer to crank my own (window).

  • avatar
    aa2

    I am the type who would rather buy new with a big warranty then buy a nicer car used. I like knowing what I will be paying, and convenience. I want to walk into a dealer talk about what is available, do the paperwork for the financing, then drive out that day. And hopefully never see them again until 5 years later when I trade it in for another car at the same place.

    For that insurance and convenience there will be a premium. Which obviously Hyundai is obssessed with quality lately to bring down the costs of their big warranties. There are other advantages as well, like if their mechanics fix hyundais and kias all day long, they are going to be extremely fast and have all the parts right there.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    aa2 — unless the used vehicle in question is really special (say a 1975 Aston Martin V8), I have zero interest in someone else’s problems.

    Plus, I know how mean I am to my car…

  • avatar
    der_rote_tornado

    Studedude,

    My mother lives in SB. I always visit the Stude museum when I’m there. On my last visit there they had a Lark Daytona in the airport lobby. It had a Mr. Ed tv show display behind it to commemorate Stude’s sponsorship of the Mr. Ed show.

  • avatar

    Frank W – Great review.

    The only potential hole in the final price summary is that you’re assuming buyers are paying full MSRP for these Kias with options.

    Personally I’d look at a Hyundai first if I was looking for cheapest possible transportation.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Crank windows kind of suck, but they’re not like… frustrating. Power windows are frustrating if they’re slow, and they’re very frustrating when you realize you’ve turned off your car and they’re still down. The additional effort that goes into rolling those windows up far outweights the effort I’d be putting into crank windows.

    When power windows get some reserve power source of their own (and I know it’s been done), I’ll like them.

  • avatar
    rtz

    This dealer advertises $9988 ’06 PT Cruisers every weekend in the local newspaper:

    http://www.normannobody.com/

    That Rio seems expensive in comparison…

  • avatar
    Studedude1961

    Carlisimo:

    At the risk of dating myself, I remember when power windows operated with the car off and the keys gone. Circa 1968 neighbors bought a 1962 Buick Electra 225 with power windows. This was hot stuff for most of us kids growing up in a working class neighborhood. We played with those amazing windows the day our neighbors took delivery. The next day, the proud new owner had to bum a ride to Gambles to buy a new battery!

    der_rote_tornado:

    Check out the brand new Studebaker National Museum next time you are in South Bend. It just opened this year after about 3 decades of planning and I understand it is fabulous.

    All:

    Point of information: The first Studebaker to be equipped with power windows (and seats too) was the special mid-year 1955 “Ultra-Vista” Studebaker!

  • avatar
    Johnster

    I’ve always heard that power windows were great in the summertime when you could use them to slice watermelons.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    Kurt B: The only potential hole in the final price summary is that you’re assuming buyers are paying full MSRP for these Kias with options.

    True enough, but with rebates, “regional” promotions and”factory to dealer” incentives that seem to change on a daily basis we have to go on the MSRP because we can’t guess what the “selling price” for a particular car may be on any given day. However, the difference between invoice and MSRP on the Rio isn’t very large so unless there are some incentives to help there isn’t a lot of dealing room.

  • avatar
    racerx

    Re: lzaffuto

    I really like the little triangular windows too, they’re great for sweltering summer driving.

    The reason car manufacturers don’t use them any more is because they make it extremely easy to break into a car. With a good strong punch or elbow you could knock one of those windows out and the door handle is usually right below, granting easy access to the car. I used to have an early 90′s Jeep and my stereo often grew legs because of the little triangular windows.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    A dealer around Houston was doing a loss-leading Focus with A/C, PW & PL for 9k or so – seems like a tremendous bargain to me.

    It amazes me how some people concentrate on the resale/retained value of a car. Many folks are like myself – I keep my cars a minimum of 10 years, 250k….so retained value is of little concern.

    My ol’ Granny, God bless her, bought the top of the shelf Buick Regal back in ’77….every possible option except for power windows. She had to wait 3 months for them to build it special for her. “Why no power windows, Gram?” we would ask. “Oh honey, just in case I have a heart attack and drive into the river while crossing over the bridge (and the statistical chances of that happening are….)” she said with a serious face. “Um, Gram, don’t you think the heart attack, or in the very least, the fur coat you always wear, won’t take you down first????”.

  • avatar

    While we’re talking preferences for NOT having electrical equipment in cars: Quite frankly, why all the big hubbub about A/C? Yeah, I’ve got it in all three of my cars/trucks, and never use it. I just roll down the windows.

    And it’s not to save gas, wear, etc., or anything like that. I normally use a motorcycle for day to day commuting. If I have to use the car, I prefer the breeze, not sitting in a climate controlled coffin.

    I’d prefer to buy my cars without A/C, if that were possible – and I live outside of Richmond and travel to Daytona Beach often.

    Syke
    Deranged Few M/C

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    For that kind of money I’d go for a used Civic, Corolla, or Mazda 6.

    For things like power doors and windows: I started of in a 1979 Toyota pickup with manual everything. Hated that truck. Next was a Ford Escort with AC and power steering, manual everything else, my first new car and I loved it. After that it was progressively up the food chain with new and improved gadgets. It really all comes down to what you are used to. My last car had power up and down windows, navigation and a seat that moved back when I turned the car off. That was a damn good car and I am missing every one of those features now in my new car. I think I’d be offended now if I had to crank a window down by hand or if I couldn’t unlock my car before I got it or heaven forbid put the key in the door. My current car has keyless ignition and I don’t know that I’d buy a car without it now. My wife’s van has a backup camera and I love that now too; but to each their own.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    The only reason I would buy a complete stripper, would be for an autocross car. Even then, it’s not really worth it to buy a new Kia Rio for that.

    Wait a few years, the strippers will be next to nothing.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    sykerocker: I normally use a motorcycle for day to day commuting. If I have to use the car, I prefer the breeze, not sitting in a climate controlled coffin.

    And if you had to use a car for a 20 mile daily commute in stop and creep traffic where you never generated enough speed to create a breeze in the 98 degree summer heat, you’d find yourself rushing to the nearest shop to have an aftermarket AC unit installed!

  • avatar
    rashakor

    Syke,

    Live through an Arizona or Texas summer without AC, and then you may be permitted to comment about your AC preferences.
    When the temperature inside your car is around 130F with the hope you have is to lower it to 110F (outside temperature) you will want to sanctify the AC inventor.

  • avatar
    KingElvis

    Steve-S

    Ditto.

    I had a Mustang GT that had express down AND up windows. Now I have a Charger that only expresses down and it annoys the hell out of me. The car I had before the Mustang didn’t even have a cassette tape, but now with ‘only’ one CD instead of the GT’s six switcher, I feel deprived.

    My Dad totalled his pickup into a black angus on a dark dirt road. He thought of getting one of those “WT” Chevrolets, but realized he couldn’t live without all the LT level accoutrements to which he had grown accustomed. He stumbled on a sweetheart used Laramie level Dodge Ram and snapped it up instead of a new stripper – he blesses that day.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Why all windows are not express down AND up at this point in time is beyond me.

  • avatar
    ktm

    Power windows are great because they are safer. Cranking down your passenger or rear windows while driving is just dangerous. And don’t say that you pull your vehicle over to raise and lower your windows.

    Now you are sounding like Bob Elton when he claimed that manuals are more dangerous than automatics. If you can not roll down your window while driving, please do not chew gum and walk at the same time. You might hurt yourself.

  • avatar
    rottenbob

    RE: Price
    Frank, I think you’re being a little unfair comparing the MSRPs on these cars. Kias are generally sold with discounts, while Toyotas and Hondas are not. In my area there are 3 dealers selling the Rio for $8,999 (even cheaper if you qualify for the military/college rebates). I know you can’t accurately gauge what the “street price” is for these cars, but you should make an effort to present a more realistic actual price. Just thumb through any city paper’s auto classified section and you’ll see the difference. Meanwhile, dealers in some locales are selling the Fit for above MSRP.

    RE: Packages
    Speaking of having to buy entire packages just to get one feature, Kia is playing the same game with the Rio. If you want the hatchback, you’ll have to also pay for alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, sport pedals, etc.

    RE: Power windows
    My buddy owns a Subaru, and we usually take his car when we head into the mountains for hiking/camping. At some point he’ll stop to buy gas. After about 30 seconds I realize that I am roasting in the car, so I reach to roll down the window… but I can’t! Furthermore, I can’t understand these people who demand power windows. Our nation is 2/3 overweight and 1/3 obese; are we really so lazy that we are unwilling to move our arm in a circular motion for 7 seconds?!?! The exercise will do you good, people!

  • avatar
    radimus

    My only beef with power windows is that I see no reason to pay extra for them in a small car like the Rio. That kind of car is going to be the “haul rad’s butt to work” car, will rarely ever have anyone else sitting in it, and for the few times I would actually NEED to regulate a window other than the drivers door I can just reach across and do it.

    Now, if I can’t reach all the winders from the drivers seat I’ll take the pushbuttons, thank you very much.

    But I can think of more useless options to rant about.

    How about rear window defrosters? Anyone ever use theirs? The last time I ever used one was in my old Geo Metro because the AC was broke. Get caught in the a humid rain storm without AC in one of those things and you’re taking your life in your hands because it’s near impossible to keep the windows clear. Outside of that, I have never needed to use it on any of my other cars.

    How about rear wipers and washers? Got those on my minivan. Never needed to used them.

    Are those fancy nav systems really that useful? I never had one so I have no idea. My idea of a nav system is a good road atlas or map and a few printouts from MSN Maps that zero me in to my intended destination.

    And what’s with these in-dash DVD players? If I wanted to watch a movie I can think of better places than sitting in a car watching a 7″ screen.

    I’m sure I’ve missed one or two here, but that’s good enough for starters.

    Oh, and as for the Rio I’d rather buy the Hyundai Accent hatch. Why wear four doors to make it look like you can actually carry humans in the back seat when no one shy of a circus midgets or small children would dare sit back there. Besides, the hatch makes much better use of the available room.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Nice writeup, Frank. We came to the same conclusion: I couldn’t imagine spending $14k for a loaded Rio, in this age of easy credit and CPO vehicles you can get so much more for the same dollar.

    My first car had crank windows, I like them on vintage cars or entry level models. Adds character and charm. :-)

  • avatar
    alterneo

    READ ABOUT MY ACCIDENT IN A KIA RIO.

    In 2003, I purchased a Kia Rio Cinco, the wagon, which is now called Rio 5. I paid the car off in April of 2008. On June 2, 2008, I was the 3rd car hit in an 8 car accident. The accident happened on a 6 lane highway going the freeway speed limit in NJ – NOT SLOW. The 1st hit was in the rear passenger door in such a way that my car immediately went into a 360 degree spin. A second car hit the rear passenger door on the drivers side as it spun into the lane to my right. The second hit spun me again in the opposite direction and the front of my car I believe hit another car. The car was totaled, but none of the inside passenger area was damaged at all. I WALKED AWAY FROM THAT ACCIDENT AND WENT TO WORK THAT DAY. I left work early of course and went to the hospital to be examined. No injuries!! KIA has won numerous awards for safety and consistently maintains 5 star awards for safety even on the Rio. God and that KIA saved my life on June 2, 2008.

    With gas prices at or above $4.00 a gallon. Guess what I bought yesterday, a 2006 Kia Rio. I already know about the great gas mileage and have experience with the safety. So the purchase was a no brainer. This is my 3rd Kia. I had the 2001 Sportage also. I still don’t have power windows & doors, but thank God my lazy butt is still alive to reach over and roll down the windows and unlock the doors. It’s an automatic and I do have air and a banging stereo system, which I had in the 2003 Rio.

    When I buy a car, it’s based on dependability, initial purchase price and cost of maintenance and parts over the life of the car and durability. Value is important. I still have to eat after buying the car. Not to mention the 28 city/38 hw mpg and great pick up for entering the highway without having to floor the gas pedal. The cabin of the 2006 Rio is a lot quieter than the 2003 that I just lost.

    I test drove the base model 2008 RIO which now comes standard with the power package (windows & door locks) and the stereo has the aux connection for the iPod. I LOVED IT, but I don’t want to pay over $15,000 for a car since I just paid off my other car a couple months ago. I was looking forward to being car note free for at least 3 years. :-(

    If I ever need a more expensive car just to show off to my friends/family who aren’t paying for it any way. I’ll just bump up to the more expensive KIA Optima or Amanti.

    I LOVE MY KIAs and no I don’t work for or have any affiliation with KIA Motors.


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