By on April 14, 2011

It was easily one of the best entries in the old CAR magazine “Good, Bad, and Ugly”: “Good: Her name is Rio… Bad: …and she’s crap.” Don’t look for this new-generation Rio to receive the same dismissive insult, at least not among the journalists who actually have a chance to drive and honestly evaluate the vehicle.

Just when you think 40mpg is the new, um, 40mpg, it turns out that more than 40mpg is the new 40mpg.

The 2012 Rio5 and Rio will offer more horsepower and increased fuel economy thanks in large part to the utilization of Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) and idle stop-go technology. Despite the fact that both models are longer and wider than the models they replace, the all-new Rios are expected to achieve better than 40 miles per gallon on the highway.

Kia’s wildly popular Soul urban passenger vehicle also receives a series of updates for the 2012 model year with significant power and fuel efficiency upgrades under the hood.

Youthful and spirited drivers will appreciate the Soul’s new six-speed transmissions and ability to deliver nearly 35 miles per gallon on the highway. Updated exterior features include new LED projector headlamps that are slightly bulged giving the overall shape of the Soul a smoother, more streamlined silhouette.

Oooh, interesting. The Honda Civic HF is already claiming 41mpg, but will the smaller Rio beat it? This super-exciting contest is, in way, kind of like horsepower wars for all the people who actually went and put on a sweater back in the Carter era. Remember 1982, when the Dodge Omni Miser, the Toyota Starlet, and the Honda Civic 1300FE all busted the 50MPG mark… equivalent to about 45-46mpg by the new rating system, I believe? Those days are coming back with a vengeance.

The Rio will debut at the New York Auto Show. Until then, if you want more than 40MPG, you’ll just have to do the decent thing and buy a Prius like everybody else.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

61 Comments on “Her Name Is Rio… And She’s Crap...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm wonder how many hp will actually be on tap? That sort of looks like a VW GTI 5 door in the picture. But I do like that KIA face.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      If my suspicion is correct, the North American version of the Rio will be getting the already-announced upcoming Accent’s 1.6 GDI engine with 138 hp … not bad, for a car of that size. Presumably, it’ll also be getting the Accent’s 6-speed manual gearbox. If Kia has sorted out the chassis tuning, this could be an entertaining little car. I like the way it looks.
       
      The biggest engine in the rest-of-the-world Rio is a 1.4 litre (this was previously announced) but AFAIK that engine isn’t direct-injection so that’s not the one we’re getting … and we DO know that the next Accent is getting the 1,6 GDI; already announced at the Montreal auto show.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Peter Schreyer, formerly of VW, heads Kia design.  I like his work much better than the Hyundai designs (not that the Elantra et al are awful, either).

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I agree the Kia designs coming out seem more sporty and cohesive than Hyundai. And the Hyundai designs are not bad either so Kia really has design coming together. Lets just hope the rest of the package is good – ride, handling, steering feel etc.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Yes, I thoroughly enjoy Mr. Schreyer’s work at Kia, it has improved the visual appeal of their cars greatly. His fairly angular and quiet surfacing is kind of like the current Cadillac styling theme, and welcome relief from many of the cars that seem to have grown odd warts and lumps everywhere.  I personally like the ‘family’ or ‘related’ look of vehicles, whether it comes from BMW, Mercedes or Pontiac.

      • 0 avatar

        totally, absolutely agree.

        the hyundai guy is ex-bmw. maybe that explains it…

  • avatar
    Andy D

    The  hamsters from the ‘hood tv ad is  the  best  car ad I’ve seen since  the  Small   World  campaign  for  the  bug. And I dont  even  like  that  kind  of   music.  I almost  got  me  a Soul

  • avatar

    You know what? I kind of like it. Nowhere to go but up considering the current generation, I suppose.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I thought it was…

    Good: Her name is Rio!

    Bad: She dances on the sand.

    Overall: And when she shines…

    By the way, this is why I don’t do car reviews anymore.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/06/2008-kia-rio-review/

  • avatar
    BlueEr03

    So now that the Rio is getting fixed up, when is the Accent going to get the new corporate treatment?

  • avatar

    So we’re finally approaching the economy figures that Suzuki Swift delivered in 1997. Kind of amazing that it’s even possible with the much higher gross weights of today.

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      But not even close to a carbureted late 1980’s Honda CR-X HF

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Of course, today’s cars are safer, faster, roomier, and more durable than the cars from that era, and the Kia comes with that 10/100 warranty.  They also cost less when you account for inflation.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Consider that cars that get the Swift’s mileage are also almost twice as powerful.  I drove a buddy’s Swift from Toronto to Thunder Bay, and it didn’t live up to it’s namesake.
       
      It’d have crumpled like a popcan had a moose stepped in front of it, too.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      There are still Swifts out there, too. And Metros, and CRX HFs. Their drivers are, amazingly, still alive, too, despite contemporary claims that such cars are deathtraps. I’m not complaining that road fatalities are at an all-time low, but I wish the government/industry/market hadn’t conspired to completely eliminate the spartan, featherweight gas sipper.

      Sometimes, the most important safety feature is a good driver. Most new cars assume you aren’t one, and that you’re better safe than sorry, even if your wallet suffers at the pump. Still, would airbags, stability control and ABS totally ruin those bite-size cars’ mpg? I look at cars like the Mini and Miata, and I still see hope.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Still, would airbags, stability control and ABS totally ruin those bite-size cars’ mpg?

      No, because airbags weigh about ten pounds, and ABS and ESC are all software.

      Now, a heavy frame, sound deadening, modern seats and, let’s not forget, mandatory 17″ rims, that would murder the fuel economy

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    The previous Rios and Accents were the definition of automotive penalty boxes.  Cheap and efficient yes, but horribly cheap interiors, underpowered, and not post children for reliability.
     
    I’m happy to see Kia undergoing the same renaissance as Hyundai, especially since Kia’s design language seems far more attractive to me.  Barring Trump somehow winning the ’12 election and instituting his scheme to re-route all of Iraq’s oil to the US, $4+ gas prices are likely the long term reality here, making the compact and subcompact segments an area that is going to be very important to keep an eye on.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      If you read Lang’s review, the interior was about the only thing he liked about the Rio.  Cheap materials, yes, but well implemented.   No argument as far as being underpowered, sounds like the new motor will change that in a big way.

  • avatar

    Well I don’t know that much about Kias,
     
    But I do know that Duran Duran was totally right about how difficult it was to be a male prostitute in 1986.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    While the Rio (and Accent) are going to be worth a look, I’m actually more interested in seeing how the new engine and transmission feel in the Soul. I test drove one a while back and absolutely loved how I could just slide into the driver’s seat (I like the slightly higher height because of periodic back problems), the interior space, decent visibility, and so on, but I was less impressed with the engine noise and the 4-speed automatic (which actually seemed to slip or pause a bit between certain shifts–didn’t try the manual). While my wife doesn’t like it (she doesn’t like the exterior styling and thinks it will quickly become dated), a new engine and transmission could well be enough to pull me towards one of those things as my next commuter.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the non-manual Soul a CVT?

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      Yeah, the Juke has the CVT for sure (I also test drove it), but then again I make my share of mistakes about this stuff as well, so it’s probably best to let someone else verify these things first.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I understand what you mean, but I was honestly mistaken. The only reason that clicked for some reason is that I had read a customer review/observation about a Nissan Altima that constantly felt like it was slipping and another, seemingly intelligent person who knows something about cars, stated that it was a common complaint about CVTs and I remembered that I thought Souls, in non-manual form, had CVT transmissions.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Guys why don’t you just take a second to “build your own” at the KIA site and see what’s up with the auto trans options.

      • 0 avatar
        Silvy_nonsense

        Dan,
         
        Yeah, like a major manufacturer would put to together a collection of product information that is readily accessible on the world wide web so we can check facts easily. That will be the day.
         
        Until we get to that glorious utopia of an interconnected web of useful information that is thoroughly indexed by some kind of “searching machine” or people wearing goggles (or whatever that’s all about) I’ll just keep stating my opinions as fact and endlessly arguing about topics that have definitive answers that I fail to look up.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      No comment (except the comment that says ‘No comment,’ as well as the comment on the comment, and so on…)

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        I will add, however, that while I was perhaps being a little too self-deprecating, I can say that my claims were a little better informed and epistemologically warranted than mere opinions. It’s my memory that’s not as sharp as it used to be, and it used to be quite good if I do say so myself. The really funny thing is that I was actually going to do exactly what Dan suggested, but decided to rely on my memory instead. Enough said.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    If Mazda made cars that looked like this, instead of cars that looked like Mazdas, maybe they wouldn’t need those “why aren’t you driving a Mazda” ads.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Apropos of nothing, Kia popped its motorsport cherry as their Forte Koup raced to a Grand Am victory!

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Well, if you’re going to position yourself as the sporty Korean marque, it doesn’t hurt to start backing that image up with a bit of silverware.  I got a big smile when I read that article.

  • avatar

    I’m mildly upset with myself for liking the new Kias as much as I do. Optima? Soul? Rio? Bizarroworld.

  • avatar
    segfault

    It ought to get better than 40 MPG on the highway, since the larger Elantra gets 40…

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      FWIW, and it might not be much, but I took my brother’s kids home this last weekend, 240 mile round trip, in my new Forte (Elantra’s platform mate I believe) and, though I didn’t hit 40 mpg, I got to within spitting distance of 37. I consider 37 mpg pretty darn good when I was doing about 80 the whole way there and back, and also had a little bit of in-town driving.

      So far I’m loving my Forte, although there is an annoying hesitation between shifts as was mentioned in the review of the EX a couple years back. I have the LX so I’m not quite sure if there is a major difference in powertrain.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Love the new consistent front end design.  The Optima is great looking, and this is certainly above average.  40MPG is good enough for anyone who drives less than 20k miles a year.  The incremental benefit above 40 is very small.  I think manufacturers know this and would rather build a more appealing car at 40 MPG than a de-contented underpowered stripper that gets 46 MPG.  And if you do drive a ton miles, do you really want to spend them in that less pleasant car anyway?

  • avatar
    jaje

    Hyundai/Kia are on quite a roll as of late with great momentum.  I am comparing them to how Honda in the 80’s / early 90’s could almost do no wrong.  Putting together the best packages of styling, handling, engine technology, and fuel efficiency – and adding in the best warranty to boot.  Honda OTOH has forgotten its heritage and is now mired with strange styling, average mpg, dated engine technology, heavy cars w/ numb steering, and a total lack of focus.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      The Civic gets very good real world mileage, and likely still ranks up there with the best of the new models in that regard.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      Whatever the current Honda lineup’s faults, steering remains crisp and Hondas are typically the lightest cars in their respective classes.  Honda has been slow to optimize its vehicles for the EPA test, focusing on real world mileage instead.  In 7+ years of driving, I have never averaged less than 28 MPG per tank in my Accord.

  • avatar
    obbop

    So… the Rio is Grande?

  • avatar
    mcs

    KIA has a new version of their city car, the Picanto, due soon. If gas prices stay high and the IQ and 500 do well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in the US.

    http://www.kia.co.uk/New-Cars/new-models/Picanto.aspx

  • avatar

    Wow. Front looks stunning. If back is as goos, and Kia doesn’t get overly greedy on pricing, this car will kill its competition in Brazil. And yes it’s coming. Sometime this year supposedly.

    Now, I’ve seen other pictures and from the different angles it didn’t look THAT good. Maybe its the angle.

  • avatar
    Doc

    Jack,
    Is this your attempt to be more “positive” after the entries about racing?


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States