By on March 29, 2017

2017 Kia Rio LX

Yesterday, we learned the Kia badge might not be good enough for Stingers in its home country. Around here, the slinky sedan will still carry the nameplate, despite the brand’s humble beginnings.

Twenty years ago, Kia made a name for itself on these shores hawking bargain-basement priced entry-level cars, many of which quickly returned to the earth in the form of iron oxide. Today, Kia’s smallest offering has since gone to finishing school, earning a major in Economics.

Kia toned down the Rio’s atomic-egg styling compared to 2016, but the car still has a distinctive face and a strong character line running down its flank. The LX is equipped with 15-inch wheels taken from a grand piano; at least the 185 section rubber won’t break the bank at replacement time. Slathering the Rio in snazzy Signal Red paint is a no cost option. Choose the black cloth seats for maximum durability.

The Rio’s 138-horsepower 1.6-liter inline four is par for the course in this segment and unlikely to set any loins afire, but it’s nearly double the stock output of the ancient, wretched econobox I had the misfortune of piloting in the ‘90s. It’s also just seven horses short of the new-for-’82 V8 Camaro. Viewed through that lens, and considering most of the Camaro’s horses were — even when new — quite ill and on their way to the glue factory, 2017 is a great time to be alive.

Base model Rio’s make do with teacup-sized brakes, but at least they’re discs at all four corners, something which cannot be said for even a few larger players in the market. (Here’s lookin’ at you, 2017 Toyota Corolla). A sextet of airbags keep things pillowy in a crash, while all manner of stability controls attempt to keep the crash from happening in the first place. Hill start assist helps prevent new drivers from rolling back and centre-punching the car behind them.

Korean automakers have always been known for packing in more value than an all-you-can-eat buffet, and the 2017 Rio LX is no different. For $14,165, buyers will find heated side mirrors, fog lights instead of cheap black plastic, satellite radio, and air conditioning. It’s worth noting that satellite radio is not available on the larger Civic in Canada until you reach the much more pricey Touring trim. Americans will find it on the mid-range EX. That Kia sees fit to toss it into the base model of their smallest car pleases me to no end.

Sure, there’s no soft-touch dash at this price, and some of the plastics are colder than a Kristen Stewart smile, but cars like this represent a great value for the money considering the misery we had to endure at this end of the spectrum not all too many years ago. Plus, it’s new car warranty stretches coverage well into the next decade. The Rio might not be sexy or a designer-grade good, but it does make for a pretty good Ace of Base.

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown in American trim, priced in Freedom Dollars, and is absent of an $895 destination fee. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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25 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2017 Kia Rio LX...”


  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    The Mazda-Kia-Volvo dealer I bought my 6 from has a new leftover 2015 Kia Rio for 11 grand. That’s a bargain for sure.

    My friend had an ’07 Kia Rio up until last year. Even with a rebuilt title from a pretty gnarly rear-end accident, it never gave her much trouble. She traded it in with well over 100k on it and it still ran and drove solid. Averaged 39 MPG, too.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    It’s a miserable Little Crampy Car and the base Soul isn’t a whole lot more.

    I suspect that may be why you see beaucoup Souls and seldom any Rios.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “some of the plastics are colder than a Kristen Stewart smile”

    Bring it.

  • avatar
    Landau Calrissian

    One thing that this (or at least my rental Rio from two months ago) lacks is cruise control, which was quite annoying. Also has a tiny gas tank and the parking brake won’t actually lock the back wheels when the car is moving, something very important on a rental car. Aside from that, not terrible! Certainly not something I’d buy with my own money, but pretty good at $95 for four days.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Tried one of these out on a lark last year – not a half bad little car. But the Yaris iA is by far the best thing you can buy in this class.

    • 0 avatar
      Fighter835

      The Rio has less wind noise, a more comfortable ride, and better seats. The iA has terrible seats that make my back hurt in 15 mins, and so much wind noise that you just want OUT of that darn thing. It may be more fun to drive on the twisties, but for all other times, the little Rio is a better car, with a better warranty.

  • avatar
    Moparmann

    Umm, excuse me, I don’t see any fog lights?! :-)

    • 0 avatar
      mik101

      Sadly it seems people are already confusing terrible LED strips for foglights. *Sigh*

      The Rio isn’t a terrible place to be. The manual is better than the dual clutch auto for sure. It was in the running for a cheap runabout when I purchased but the lack of LX manuals vs LX+ models was the nail in the coffin because the Fiestas payments couldn’t be beat. The Rio was about $60/mo more and that basically covered my insurance on it, so it became a no brainer for me. Looking around it seems Fiestas priced that low aren’t anywhere to be found anymore.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    I rented a Kia Rio last Fall for a weekend. I put about 1,000 miles on it in mostly highway driving, but there was about 100 miles of around town and secondary roads as well.

    Overall, I thought one could do worse. The dashboard was pleasant to look at, and all the right buttons and knobs fell to hand easily. The seats were comfortable for the long haul, and for an econobox sedan, I thought it was reasonably quiet.

    The ride was fine too. I’ve rented other economy cars for long hauls and at the end of the trip, had difficulty going to sleep from persistent motion perception. That did not happen in the Kia Rio.

    Really, my biggest complaint about this very affordable and tasteful economy car was fuel economy. At 65 mph, it was fine. But above 70 mph, it guzzled gas like my 1993 Miata does on the highway in a stiff headwind. So the solution is to keep it to legal speeds, and you’ll get 340 miles out of a tank of gas. Take it above those speeds, and you’ll be stopping at less than 300 miles. So much for saving time, right?

    Would I buy one? Yeah, I’d consider it. I think you’d have to see what’s immediately available in low-mileage used cars that are a notch up on the food chain. But if nothing is immediately available and you need wheels ASAP, I think you could do a LOT worse than the Kia Rio.

  • avatar
    bph78660

    The all new gen4 Kia Rio is currently making the auto show circuit and looks like a winner. It’s supposed to go on sale in the US later this year in both sedan and hatch versions. I suspect this will be a much better choice than the current gen3.


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