Ace of Base: 2018 Kia Rio LX Sedan

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
ace of base 2018 kia rio lx sedan

About a month ago, departed Sales Tim (not newly-arrived Boss Tim) wrote about Kia’s littlest car and found it to be an inoffensive hatch that could stand to make a bit more power. His, and the B&B’s, main gripe was price, given the tester was a check-every-box example with all the toys.

Kia entered our market with a value play and, 20 years later, the new base Rio shows it still knows how to play the game. The level of standard equipment on this $13,900 sedanlet far outstrips the miserable econoboxes of yesteryear.

Kia chiseled the old Rio’s wide-eyed styling for 2018, creating a flinty stare not unlike that of a stern school principal. The LX is equipped with 15-inch wheels covered with hubcaps, shod with 185-section rubber that won’t break the bank at replacement time. Annoyingly, only a trio of monochrome colors are available in this first model year. Industrial-grade black cloth seats will probably outlive the car.

The Rio’s 130-horsepower 1.6-liter inline four is down 8 horses from last year in an apparent bid to make peak power available at lower RPMs. The same engine shows up in every Rio sedan, no matter how much money you spend. Paired with a six-speed manual, this may indeed be a realistic goal. It goes without saying that the smart Ace of Base shopper should forgo the $1,090 automatic transmission. The base LX trim is the only one in which buyers will find a stick. Curb weight of a manually-shifted Rio is a thrifty 2,648 pounds.

Base model Rio drivers will find 11-inch discs behind the front steelies and the car is fitted with a raft of airbags keep things pillowy in the event of a crash. 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 hammering the car behind them.

Korean automakers have always been known for pegging the value-to-feature meter and the 2018 Rio LX is no different. For $13,900, buyers will find air conditioning, a tilt wheel, and a driver’s seat adjustable for height. The center stack houses a 5-inch touchscreen in which satellite radio resides, a standard feature not found on several high-zoot German cars.

Kia’s warranty is worth a mention at this end of the food chain, given that these cars are often deposited into the hands of new drivers who think they have better things to do than worry about their car breaking down. The Rio’s powertrain is covered for a remarkable 120 months – nearly double the likely length of the note – or 100,000 miles. A person could drive from New York to L.A. thirty-five times before being on the hook for an engine-related repair. Comprehensive coverage at 60 months/60,000 miles is equal in length to the powertrain warranty on most other machines.

Cars like this represent a great value for the money considering the misery we had to endure at this inflation-adjusted price point not all too many years ago. The 2018 Kia Rio LX might not set hearts aflame with driving excitement but it has warranty into the next decade and standard air conditioning for under fourteen grand. Nailing the fundamentals put this car on our Ace of Base list.

[Image: Kia Motors]

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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4 of 25 comments
  • Eggsalad Eggsalad on Nov 08, 2017

    At least around here, Rios barely exist on dealer lots, and the reason is called "Forte". The Rio has a $500 rebate, and the Forte's is $2500. This makes them so close in price (especially on an 84-month loan!) that there's no reason to buy a Rio over a Forte.

  • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Nov 08, 2017

    Meh, I'd rather have a Soul. You can find them new for about $13k, with standard alloys and more room.

    • See 1 previous
    • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Nov 08, 2017

      @FreedMike I would think the Soul, with a more generous list of standard equipment for the money, would be a better Ace of Base. And Kia dealers acting unscrupulous? What?? Couldn't be. You must be thinking of some other brand. /sarcasm In that light, I had to laugh at this statement: "A person could drive from New York to L.A. thirty-five times before being on the hook for an engine-related repair." Unless they can find a way to weasel out if it. And you can bet, most will try.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂