By on June 11, 2008

03.jpgKia is one of the only car brands sold in America that's never built an enthusiast's car. Sensible Swedish Saab offered the 900. Before their core clientele started losing their pulse, Buick ran the Grand National. Saturn looked to the Sky for salvation. GMC got caught up in a Typhoon. Even Hyundai has the Tiburon circling its enthusiast oriented customers. Kia? Nothing but cheap. Or… maybe not. "Being practical doesn't mean you have to take the joy out of life," their web copy proclaims. "That's the thinking behind the Rio. It's affordable and likes a good time as much as you do." What exactly does THAT mean?

Affordability aside, nothing much. The Kia's sheetmetal serves as an instant, constant reminder that the good times are not about to roll. For starters, the front fascia appears to be a mismatch of cheap plastics and leftover pre-bankruptcy surplus (check out those diminutive fog lights on the top-of-the-line SX). The orgy of automotive penury continues with side door protectors that look like they came from the wrong side of the 1980's. The Hyundai Accent has these removed– with the mere imprint remaining. But that's like saying the Rio isn't the only sister in the family that grows a moustache.

02.jpgAt the back, the Rio's rear lights came straight from a Chrysler junkyard; the lower end retains the cohesiveness of overexposed cheap plastic. Overall, only the equally dire, equally South Korean Chevrolet Aveo can compare with the Rio's ultra-cheap, I mean "affordable" exterior appearance.   

The Rio's interior surprised me, even in base trim. Yes, the radio controls look and feel like rubber dog toys (don't get me started) and the carpet's thinner than my imaginary hairline. But the seats are comfortable, the ergonomics faultless, and the steering wheel feels solid in your hands. In truth, only one element of the Rio's cabin will repel frugal folks before they turn the key: a sour, noxious smell. The olfactory assault may fade over time, but it sends a subconscious signal that you have abandoned all hope of a fly ride. 

10.jpgYou don't drive a Kia Rio. You ride in it. Well, on the highway. Anywhere else, you fight with it. There's no handling as such, just a constant struggle against lateral forces and 14" of limited adhesion as you wrestle with the lack of power steering (available on the LX and SX models). Unless you think it's OK for a guy to dance by himself at the High School prom, piloting this machine is a particularly joyless affair. Did I mention the 110hp engine (@ 6000rpm) or understeer? Why would I?

Another non-surprise: the Rio with a manual transmission is a pain to drive, with a box that puts the "arggg" in agricultural. Needless to say, the optional four-speed autobox is geared for maximum mileage (i.e. minimal acceleration). Unfortunately (for Kia), moving up to the automatic lifts the price firmly into Versa / Yaris territory– where the Rio simply can't compete.

The good news: the base Kia rides smoothly down the highway with controlled body motions, and remains quiet, in an "Applebee's isn't as noisy as a TGIF's" way. That's a good fit for most of the general public that seeks to drive no more than 2/10's to 3/10's of a vehicle's capability– and wants an upper body workout. Oh, the suspension bottoms-out on moderate bumps at highway speeds. Sorry. 

01.jpgThe word "base" has new meaning here. No power steering. No ABS or rear disc brakes, poor IIHS side-impact safety rating and, just as dangerous for southerners, no air conditioning. You can't even order a chiller in the base model. You can get AC for $700 more in an entry-level, if equally unexciting, Toyota Yaris hatchback along with… power steering! Or, you can get a variety of near-new low-mileage vehicles ranging from the unloved but far more competent Chevy Cobalt, to the quite loved and still fairly unknown Suzuki SX4.
All of which means that if the Kia Rio loves good times as much as you do, you don't love good times. At all. The Rio has nothing whatsoever to offer the enthusiast and even less to offer the frugalist. OK, the warranty is long and extensive. But then most cars today will last 200k miles.

kia_rio_eva_padberg_31.jpgIt's a shame that the most economically-vulnerable members of society will be seduced by the Rio's low sticker. If they checked eBay's completed items section they'd see that an ultra-low mileage four-year-old Rio has trouble breaking the $4k barrier. That's $2k worth of depreciation per year. On the flip side, you can buy a certified three-year-old Corolla or Civic for nearly the same price as a new Kia Rio and get lower depreciation, better fuel economy and far better overall quality. Game, set and match.

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53 Comments on “2008 Kia Rio Review...”


  • avatar
    GS650G

    Like that model would be caught dead riding in a Kia Rio. I like the Rondo, it’s a good vehicle for the money but this thing is ridiculous.

  • avatar
    brettc

    What an entertaining review. I owned a 2001 Hyundai Accent for 2 years. The wife and I bought it new because at the time, it was a pretty decent car for the money, and it seemed much better than the 1994 Cavalier it was replacing.

    It was scary on the highway on windy days, and I only got about 30 MPG max during the 40000 miles we had it. We eventually got rid of it because the automatic transmission module kept failing. A total of 3 times… We replaced it with a 2003 Jetta TDI, which has been essentially flawless so far over 5 years.

    So, the moral of my story is that I’ll probably never buy another Hyundai product, and based on this review, it looks like not much has changed in 7 years with Hyundai’s entry level cars.

  • avatar
    AKM

    That model is way too skinny…

  • avatar

    I actually like the exterior styling of the Rio, especially in hatchback form. The proportions are much better than those of most small cars, and no lines seem extraneous. I suspect an Italian design house assisted. Must agree on those moldings, though.

    I’ve never driven a Rio, because both times I’ve tried the salesperson has strongly encouraged me to drive a different model.

    No reliability info on these yet–but soon on the related Hyundai Accent. If you know someone who owns a Kia, please send them here:

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    I, too, actually like the exterior styling of the Rio Cinco (ya…the hatchback). Lines are clean and stylish in a bottom-of-the-bucket kind of way. The car is exactly what it is….entry level. Something you’d buy your kid on his/her way to college if college was say….300 miles away. I’ve heard the reliability on them is excellent and the warranty makes it bulletproof.

  • avatar
    MattVA

    AKM, I was thinking the exact same thing. That’s sickly, dying skinny.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Hyundai and Kia still have sub-standard reliability. We see a disproportionate number of them at the auctions, and a lot of folks who trade them in do so because the warranty has expired.

    Hyundai does have better quality overall than the Kia products. But I still wouldn’t put the older versions on a par with the domestics. On the flip side, most any vehicle that is conservatively driven and well maintained can last over 200k. Hyundai is definitely among them but I would encourage anyone who has a Sonata/Elantra/Accent etc. to change the tranny fluid every 30k and have the oil done at least every 5k. I see many of the trannies giving up the ghost once they reach around 100k.

    Kia is still the bottom dweller of the car-side of the industry just as Land Rover is for the SUV side of the business. I use the term ‘Kia league’ to describe any type of vehicle that is so riddled with defects and substandard engineering that it won’t see the bright side of 100k without a major repair. Owner reviews of this and other Kia produts can provide a lot of insight to Kia’s that go far beyond the initial quality reports. There have been plenty of consumer complaints about owners not being able to get their manual trannies replaced during the warranty period and the ignorant among the masses usually gets their clocks cleaned with the dealer promoted maintenance. In my opinion, one of the reasons why Kia is struggling during a recession laden market is because their products and service are simply not up to snuff.

    Kia’s main customers are those that desperately need a low monthly payment, and those who want a long warranty due to either a belief in the 100k myth or those who suffered through a major repair once their former car’s warranty expired.

    Some cars are truly cheap to operate and own (Fit, Versa, Yaris) others are not (Rio, PT Cruiser, Aveo). The true cost of ownership goes far beyond the initial price… which is what too many folks simply look at when shopping new or used.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Whoa!

    I went to TTAC.com expecting a new review, since it’s Wednesday, but I got confused when I saw the Cayenne picture.

    I thought well maybe no new review today, but then I realized I had completely overlooked this Kia on top of the page.

    Amazing how the human brain tries to filter out some of the information that’s thrown at it.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    My one experience with a Kia was a rental Sportage I had the misfortune of driving. The cheap plastic smell was beyond unpleasant. It was actually toxic. I had to keep the window rolled down in the middle of winter because of the terrible headache I was getting from the fumes. It earned the title of worst car I’ve ever driven (previously held by a Saturn SL). It made me long for the decrepitude of the Saturn.

  • avatar

    Well said Steve!

    Talking to the guy at the National rental counter, and he said they avoid Kia products as they tend to break under the abuse rental cars must endure. They found the domestics, especially the Cobalt (they don’t care about driving enjoyment) have the best fleet cost vs ability to withstand punishment, since they get no break on costs for the Hondas and Nissans… although they had a few Toyotas.

  • avatar

    Nice review as always, Steven. I haven’t smelled a Korean car in a while, they seem to be getting better for the past 10 years. I not-so-fondly remember the smell of every Hyundai in the early 1990s, that plastic/glue was toxic.

    Too bad the smell is back at sistership Kia. Even the Chinese cars I sat in at the NAIAS didn’t smell very bad at all.

  • avatar
    RayH

    …far more competent Chevy Cobalt
    Wow… the last car I drove I disliked more than the ‘balt was a Stratus. I’ll have to drive one of these to compare it to the Stratus.
    Nice review.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    One minor change. This review refers strictly to the Base model.

    As for the Cobalt… if a person doesn’t like the looks of the Toyota, and the Yaris and Fit are beyond their price range, the Cobalt is a perfectly competent vehicle. It’s not one for the enthusiast. But it’s a far better choice for A to B transportation.

    If I were comparing to others in the class, I would likely rank a lower end Cobalt higher than most here. GM actually put some effort to make it a durable vehicle and I see far fewer compromises in it than I do with most other compacts and subcompacts. It’s also an amazing value as a two year old model thanks to GM’s large scale supplying of fleets and other commercial entities.

    Economy minded buyers on a sub-Rio budget would do well spending some time considering a near-new version of it. The prior gen Focus on the other hand I don’t like due to the buzziness and rattling I find with their interior components over the course of time. As always, to each their own.

  • avatar
    alex_rashev

    Nitpick: EPA rates Manual Rio at 27/32, and auto at 25/35. In other words, stick version sucks for highway driving, but makes up for it in the city – I bet that the little auto box has lockup and a mega-tall overdrive. Probably makes for some shitty response at highway speed, as in, mash the gas, wait 3 seconds while it’s not moving any faster under wide-open throttle at 1200rpm, then another 2 for it to unlock the converter and another 5 or so while it figures out that you need a second or a third gear to overtake that truck. But then again, I haven’t driven it. Maybe I should ;)

  • avatar
    alex_rashev

    NITPICK!!!

    EPA Mileage is 27/32 for stick, and 25/35 for auto. That probably means that the auto comes with a lockup and a mega-tall overdrive, which means that the car will be a major pain to drive.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I actually like the styling of the hatch. The rear lights are particularly successful of conveying “Rio”. They remind me of the design of the Rio hotel in Vegas.

    However, I drove an entry level rental Kia several years ago (due to being stranded and no other vehicles available). I drove it from NJ to Detroit and will never forget that experience. I swear my back hurts from it to this day. That car made me question the very definition of “car”. In the end I decided it was not a car. I can’t bring myself to drive another Kia without significant evidence of improvement.

  • avatar
    Orian

    One entry level model does not define their entire line up, whether it be the Rio in this case, the Aveo in Chevy’s case, etc.

    This car was designed to be cheap…and is. Not hard to figure that one out. There are better cars in this price range however, as stated.

    I drove a Kia Spectra rental last year and was happy with it. It wasn’t a car to go fast in, but it felt well built and I had no problems with it during the three weeks I had it. The mileage was pretty decent too, even when flogging it a bit.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Funny how the Cobalt keeps coming up as a yardstick of either transportation competence or ignominy. Can we get a review of the Cobalt XFE model on TTAC? Might put an end to some of the hearsay regarding this (ubiquitous) car.

  • avatar
    shaker

    The Rio (and the Accent) are old platforms and every review I’ve seen confirms it.
    I was looking at Accents, but when Hyundai offered a $2000 rebate on the 2008 Elantra, I jumped at it. With a 5-Speed manual, I’ve gotten 38MPG on a 70 mph highway 45 – 65 two-lane PA mountain route (200 mile trip); probably better than a Rio could have managed. Get 30 in very short-hop suburban drives to work.

    The interior fit and finish are quite good, and the plastics had a very mild (and short-lived) odor. The shifter has loosened into a smooth-operating action, the clutch is consistent, and the electric power steering, though vague on-center, is acceptable for all but canyon carving.

    So, don’t judge Hyundai/Rio on their older platforms, as the latest gen stuff they offer is very decnt for the price.

  • avatar

    Kia HAS made a performance car – they just never sold it here. They built a version of the fwd Lotus Elan.

    The new Rio has a great styling at least.

  • avatar
    cRaCk_hEaD_aLLey

    You can blame the night, blame the wine, blame the moon in her eyes, but when all else fails . . . you’d better . . . Blame it on Rio!

  • avatar
    shaker

    I should know (by now) not to use “forward slashes” in posting; invariably buggers it up somehow, and the ‘edit’ function is broken (at least in IE6)

    Suffice to say that the latest platforms from Hyundai-Kia are noticably better than the previous generations — H-K need to get a new gen small platform out there, as the time is right; but their time is being spent on the Genesis and Elantra Touring right now.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    This thing has no reason to exist. It’s a waste of development money because like Mr. Lang said, there are more worthy used examples of Corollas and Civics that are cheaper to buy and cheaper to own. Kia should make more cars like the Rondo, ultra practical, cheap and cheerful, not crap that’s outclassed by practically every other car ever produced.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Skinny means a chance of flippin over on high winds or Noreastern. If it’s a little wider and bigger tires it might not flip over and the interior is good.

    I remember Mitsubishi before that they didn’t care about how their cars looks, they were more into perfecting the AWD,Engine and Tranny now they perfected those system.

    Now they changed the style of their Lancer,Eclipse and Galant especially the Evo X.

    I hope KIA will do the same.

  • avatar
    Rix

    I don’t understand how Hyundai can make decent cars at a great price point and their subsidiary Kia can’t.

  • avatar
    BEAT

  • avatar
    miked

    I think its great that the base model is so base! I wish every car came with options from completely stripped to full upmarket goodies.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    Kinda funny to see a review of this thing up so quick after I bought one! Its even the same orange color.

    I bought the car because of two things:

    1.Gas is expensive, and I needed something that could get decent mileage for my 40 mile round trip to work everyday. I’ve got a Mitsubishi VR4 Twin Turbo with an upgraded chip, bigger intercoolers, and 750cc injectors; it likes gas….too much of it at this pricepoint to drive daily.

    2. The KIA dealer was running a special where they gave you $3000 off for your trade-in, no matter the condition of the trade in. The KIA dealer is now a proud owner of a ’88 Pontiac Grand Am with a Oldsmobile quad-4 (remember those?) missing the bottom of the engine along with crank, rods, and pistons (it died in fine GM style via fantastic explosion a couple of years ago…KABOOM!).

    So I ended up picking this car up for new and paid eight grand for the thing out of pocket. I got the nicest package they had on the lot that didn’t have a slushbox.

    Overall, I would have to say this car isn’t as bad as the review here indicates, at least over time. If you are used to driving a quick machine like a VR4 I can see where the instant turn-off factor comes into play. This widget is a dog – a small, yappy dog – to drive.

    But I have generally been suprised by this thing. It is unusually quiet in my experience for a cheap car. Build quality is pretty good, all the gaps line up (and have stayed lined up for 3000 miles or so). And the car sips gas if you pay even a little attention to being efficient in your driving.

    And here’s the funniest part of all about this car. Chicks dig it. I don’t know why, but I get lots of compliments on how “cute” it is – and everyone loves the color. Even my old man, a die-hard Oldsmobile man who likes to rib me that KIA stands for “Killed In Automobile” and calls my VR4 a “Zero” thinks the color is cool. Anyways, that’s my two cents.

  • avatar
    Howler

    “Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand!”
    Next up from Kia the radical new cute-ute… Wild Boys! Um er wait “The Chauffeur”? =D
    PS: The model is skinny, but it doesnt change the fact you’re fat.

  • avatar

    I rented a Rio and it had no noticeable smell. I think it is nice looking for a cheap car, and the interior was fine. I wouldn’t want to own, but for an $8000 car it is certainly competent.

    I have also driven a 2005 Aveo hatch, another sub-10K car, and it too wasn’t all that bad. Driving very cheap small cars like these is sort of fun, and parking of course is a snap.

    You say that it is a poor value compared to higher-end 2 or 3 year old low-mile cars, but you can say that of any new car.

    It is also unfair to compare the car with a Versa, Yaris, etc, which are all more expensive cars.

  • avatar
    boredlawstudent

    “It is also unfair to compare the car with a Versa, Yaris, etc, which are all more expensive cars.”

    I thought that would be the case too, but a mid level Rio LX w/ auto, PW/PL and ABS is $15.3K or around $14.2K after rebates. It’s not that cheap afterall. I’d gladly spend the additional 1K or so for a FIT.

  • avatar
    Jonathon

    The Rio’s looks would be vastly improved if they got rid of that wide belt of charcoal grey plastic all the way around.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Mr. Lang,

    You are w/o doubt my favorite reviewer. I appreciate your insights into various makes and models.

  • avatar
    WalterRohrl

    I too am in the “I like the black bumper strips” camp. Both My ’93 Audi S4 and my ’92 Mercedes 400E had them and what’s more, they were replaceable with new ones when the old ones had been rubbed or pockmarked during parking maneuvers. No new fully painted bumper can take any kind of abuse whatsoever without expensive repairs. I have no idea if the ones on the Kia are replaceable but if so, then they can be kept looking good pretty easily.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I’m all confused. Isn’t this the kind of car that everybody screams the manufacturers should be making?

    It’s inexpensive (starting at $11.5k)
    It’s fuel efficient (EPA combined 30 mpg)
    It’s light (2300 lb curb weight)
    It’s not saddled down with the things that people consider to be excess (no DVD, no navigation, etc.)
    It gets by without a monstrous engine (110 hp)

    This is quite possibly the most sensible car TTAC has ever tested.

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    I agree with Michael Karesh that the proportions are good on this car for its size–certainly better than the Yaris. The bumper strips might look better on a darker color, but either way it’s 80s-retro-minimalist, and I like that, too.

    All that said, it’s so outclassed by the competition that you either really need a warranty, or are really smitten by its…looks?

  • avatar
    NickR

    Rio…Korean for ‘penury’

  • avatar
    bjarnetv

    at least the new kia ceed and the rondo are good cars, so i have high hopes for the soul and the other upcoming kias.

    besides, how can you not love a car manufacturer named after a ninja-scream? kiaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

  • avatar
    geggamoya

    Quasimondo–> Now if it only was fun to drive… ;)

    For some reason i also quite like the styling, and the black strips.
    I still wouldn’t buy one though, it’s about 15k euros here and for that price there’s better cars available.

  • avatar
    PanzerJaeger

    Kia is still the bottom dweller of the car-side of the industry just as Land Rover is for the SUV side of the business.

    Wait, what? Did you really compare Kia to Land Rover? Have you driven a Rover in the last 10 years?

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Have you driven a Rover in the last 10 years?

    I’ve helped push one…..

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    geggamoya, do you really NEED a car that’s fun to drive?

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Yes, and my analogy was pointed squarely towards the lack of reliability and quality of these two brands.

    It’s an extreme rarity to see a Kia OR Land Rover have mileage above 150k. Land Rover’s have absolutely terrible electronics and substandard automatic transmissions. Kia’s have problems all the way around. In fact, if you look at the owner reviews for both these vehicles you’ll usually see more sad faces and unhappy stories than virtually anything else out there.

    On a more statistical note, I happen to peruse through Carmax’s trade-in’s on a weekly basis. For this week, 39 trade-in’s were Kia’s. Out of those 39, not a single one had mileage above 150k. Six of them have engine issues, one doesn’t run, and over two-thirds of them were traded in before the vehicle ever saw 100k. Typically 15% of Carmax’s trade-in’s will have over 150k miles. For Kia it’s usually between 0% and 2%, and I’ve been looking at these stats for a long time.

    Land Rover had 2 out of 29 hit the 150k mark. Typically they have no more than one. Again, two-thirds of their owners traded them in before they reached 100k. Usually the pre-100k trade-in level is between 30% and 40% for most marques. Acura, Toyota and Subaru typically have the lowest percentages… Kia, Saab, Jaguar and Land Rover typically have the highest.

  • avatar
    geggamoya

    No i suppose i don’t actually need a car that’s fun to drive. Most of my driving is on ring-roads and motorways anyway, which are depressing by definition.

    Defenders seem to be the exception to unreliable Land Rovers, supposedly 75% of all the Defenders ever made are still registered and running. There’s not much that can go wrong though..

  • avatar
    PanzerJaeger

    I know plenty of guys running Discos and even Range Rover Classics on the trails with well over 100k miles on them. My mom’s 2001 Disco which gets daily commute duty most of the time and some light 4X4 occasionally has 70k on it and we’ve had no issues, electronic or otherwise.

    Now I will grant that, like other Euro luxury brands, Land Rover slapped a bunch of electronic gizmos on their vehicles in the recent past that aren’t as reliable as their asian competition. However, unlike certain German automakers, the fundamentals are pretty sound.. ie. electronic failures don’t disable the vehicle.

    Rovers definitly aren’t at the top of the list, but imo making comparisons with Kia just isn’t justified – especially those from 2000 onward.

  • avatar
    geggamoya

    I had a look and actually there seems to be plenty of high mileage Discoveries and older Range Rovers for sale in Germany for example.

    Defenders not so much since they are sold in much fewer numbers and i would imagine they are kept for longer than your average car.

  • avatar
    leitzke19

    If anyone has any questions regarding the Kia Rio in general maybe I can help out. First off, how can Kia Rio be a bad car if it has been ranked “Highest in Initial Quality” 2 years in a row! And thats by J.D. Power and Assoc….? I also have customers that drive there Rio and get 43 mpg.. and have over 200,000 miles on them and have done nothing but change the oil?

    Just look at the reviews from people that HAVE owned or DO own one. You will be pleased!

    If you need so speak with someone that owns one just ask!

  • avatar
    hondagirl

    I went to a Kia dealership to test a Sportage, and the thing wouldn’t even crank. I wouldn’t touch one with a ten foot pole.

  • avatar
    kiaowner5

    You can't buy a hatchback rio in the base model.  Kias are now rated up with Hondas and Toyotas. They now have good resale value. There is no smell in the interior other than the new car smell many cars have. This car is fun to drive it corners nicely it has get up and go considering the HP. But its not that type of car its a gas milage car. Sure they are cheap but they are as good as quality as any toyota but they cost less to build. Kia does not have toyotas we will rip you off $$$ name. They spend much less on advertising too. i don't have to pay the extra thousand for advertising that Toyota owners do. Kia is the number 5 automaker in the world they must be doing something right. I did a ton of research then i bought the Kia.

  • avatar
    geggamoya

    They are making progress fast, no doubt about that. Some like the car, some don’t. Isn’t it nice? Kumbaya…

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    “You can’t buy a hatchback rio in the base model.” Never said you could… “They now have good resale value.” Compared to a Lada. “There is no smell in the interior other than the new car smell many cars have.” Actually, new cars do have different smells between them. The Rio had one that I simply did not, how shall I say this in a kind way, appreciate. “This car is fun to drive it corners nicely it has get up and go considering the HP.” Same can be said for a 15 year old Mazda Protege. “But its not that type of car its a gas milage car.” OK, first it’s fun, but not really. Then it’s an economical car. But have you actually seen it’s MPG’s and compared it to the competition? If you did, you would find this base model fell far short in that measure as well. “Sure they are cheap but they are as good as quality as any toyota but they cost less to build.” As Col. Potter would say, “Horsefeathers!” “Kia does not have toyotas we will rip you off $$$ name.” Because they have not earned that level of prestige. Take a long hard look at the owner’s reviews at carsurvey, epinions, cartalk, edmunds, and msn. If you think the Rio has achieved long term owner satisfaction on a par with any Toyota, feel free to do the math and get back to me. “They spend much less on advertising too.” It’s because their brand is more competitive with niche players such as Jeep in terms of sales. Toyota has sales levels comparable to Chevy and Ford. “i don’t have to pay the extra thousand for advertising that Toyota owners do.” Huh? Facts please. “Kia is the number 5 automaker in the world they must be doing something right.” This one takes the cake, and the ham and cheese. “I did a ton of research then i bought the Kia.” In the words of Bartles and James, “and we thank you for your support!”

  • avatar

    what a terrific review of a truly awful car. you had me in stitches, Steve! very entertaining.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Thanks. If Chevy ends up sending an XFE to my neck of the woods (a small town in Georgia somewhere between civilization and deliverance) I’d love to spend time behind the wheel with that as well.

    I don’t know why, but somehow the really cheap a$$ boring cars can have this strange appeal to me. I recently got a 1994 Buick Century with only 31,000 miles on it that I swear must be responsible for half the deaths in West Palm Beach. The thing is the automotive version of novocain on the road… and yet I truly like driving it. It’s authentic and genuine in the way it simply doesn’t give a flip about ergonomics or interior quality… and yet, it works.

    It seats six, gets 30 mpg on the highway, the 3.1L is a surprisingly good choice for the mass of the car, and the trunk is massive. Everything else about the car is a joke. But it at least it nailed all the big issues for it’s target audience at that time, which is why it sold so well for so long.

    If you want the the All-American version of automotive mediocrity, the Century was probably the epitome of it. It’s what the Kia dreamed of becoming when it was a mere Festiva.

    The base Kia on the other hand would not qualify as a 21st century K-Car because it simply fails on every single level. At the end of a long drive I honestly thought that this car had missed it’s target customer. Now if their target was someone who likes cheap 1980′s era plastics and the color orange, they may be onto something. But even the bargain basement Aveo has regularly beaten the Rio in the sales charts.

    Some folks here want to drive the Bentleys, the Ferarris, the Porsches, and the Maseratis. As Sally Struthers would say, “Do you like driving really really expensive cars? Sure we all do. Now go get me another hamburger!” I enjoy the more plebian vehicles because in real life, I’d rather spend my money on a rental property or a really good weed whacker.


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  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India