By on November 8, 2017

2018 Kia Rio

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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25 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2018 Kia Rio LX Sedan...”

  • avatar

    Manual transmission? 130HP? Steel Wheels?
    Sounds a lot like my 91 Accord Coupe.
    Which I always felt was a quick, if not fast, car.

    Plus airbags and everything else – not a bad deal at all.

  • avatar

    I was visiting family in WV this past weekend and saw advertising for Dutch Miller Kia that bragged about a 20 year, 200k mi warranty.

    They didn’t even list Rios on the website new inventory, but some of the Fortes and Forte 5s were discounted deep into the $13s with the 1k in college and military discounts. Weird because the Forte 5 was listed at 25/34 city/hwy, but sedans were listed at 29/38 though it doesn’t weigh much less. Must be gear ratios or programming.

    One of the catches on the extra 100k mi limited powertrain warranty that kicks in after the first 100 is a $250 per incident/covered service copay.

  • avatar

    Hard to believe Kia put a camryesque fake rear window on this thing. For that reason alone I’d have to vote for the hatchback version.

  • avatar

    What is the fascination with satellite radio these days?! I have had it in several cars and I don’t think I listened to it more than 2-3 times. The super annoying calls to renew the super expensive subscription is what I remember the most.

    • 0 avatar

      vvk, you either don’t like music, listen to top 40/pop/hip-hop (which is the same as not liking music), or live in a major metropolitan area.

      Terrestrial radio in metro areas as large as Richmond, VA is absolutely terrible if your tastes run at all sideways of mainstream. I was terribly disappointed a couple months ago when my favorite SiriusXM station moved outside of the package I get to a station I can’t get on my Hyundai radio, but even my second-tier satellite stations are so much better than terrestrial radio I can’t bear the thought of cancelling.

      • 0 avatar

        > vvk, you either don’t like music, listen to top 40/pop/hip-hop
        > (which is the same as not liking music), or live in a major metropolitan area.


        I mostly listen to audio books, especially on long trips. Nothing shortens a 40 hour trip better than War and Peace :) Load them onto my phone/car ahead of time.

        Otherwise, I mostly listen to Internet radio. Free and literally thousands of stations from around the world.

    • 0 avatar

      Like cable and internet, you have to watch for deals and get on the about pricing when it comes time to renew.

      I find it’s great for long trips because you don’t have to keep searching for a new station and you don’t burn through the data plan on your phone from streaming music.

      Personally I like it for baseball and hockey games because those are only carried on a scant few AM radio stations around here.

    • 0 avatar

      I *hate* the “Morning Zoo” DJ prattle on regular radio.

      I could download a bunch of songs to my phone or get a streaming service and use a BT connection but that also requires some money and isn’t as well integrated as the Sat. radio.

      You are correct about the customer service being a hassle though.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve found that the Sirius/XM playlists for my favorite stations are surprisingly short and they don’t get refreshed very often. BTW, the music played on the Chill channel is not downtempo chill music by any stretch of the imagination. As a result, I’ve shifted to Pandora for my personalized music and that works great.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d have loved sat radio when I took my long road trip from Denver to St. Louis this summer…when you get into the boonies in Kansas, there’s no wireless internet coverage. Thus, no streaming music (or Google Maps, for that matter).

      My girlfriend has a ’09 Accent that she bought in 2010, and she got XM on it for free for a good six years. Guess the rental company that bought the car originally was footing the bill…

  • avatar

    Was there a recent $895 price increase on this vehicle?

    The Kia website lists $14,795 as the base price (“MSRP excludes destination and handling charges, taxes, title, license, options and dealer charges.”). Maybe it’s a regional pricing thing.

  • avatar

    This wouldn’t be a bad car for my mother in law to replace her unwanted Jeep Cherokee. She would get the automatic though. :(

  • avatar

    Where they get you is that only way to get basic thing like power windows is to move to a higher trim level. But at least power door locks are standard

  • avatar

    The first new car that I ever test drove was a 2002 Kia Rio sedan 5-speed. It was not good at being driven, and very overpriced. I told the dealer the only model I’d be interested in buying would be a wagon with the 5-speed. They said it wasn’t possible, and tried to sweet talk this dumb-looking 18-year-old into paying a ridiculous price for one of the Rio models they already had in stock. I walked out, went to another dealer, and happily bought a Civic EX for about the same price.
    Kia, I am still awaiting my Rio wagon.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

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

    • 0 avatar

      A Soul is indeed a good deal, but you can bet Rios will also be discounted to hell. Around here, they’re advertised for +/- $10,000-11,000.

      (Now, whether any living human being can actually GET all those discounts they’re advertising is another story – Hyundai/Kia stores are notorious for bait-‘n-switch.)

      • 0 avatar

        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.

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