By on June 19, 2019

When exactly did it come to pass that hatchback versions of small cars were generally priced higher than their sedan counterparts? It’s not true in every example but, more often than not, one will shell out a few more simoleons for a five-door. I’ll posit that the original Ford Focus started this trend.

At least customers get a more practical car and, in many cases, a more stylish one.

Such is the case with Kia’s littlest family member. Its five-door variant is priced just ever so slightly above its two-box brother. The Korean automaker has a trophy case packed with Ace of Base awards, largely thanks to its strong value for money proposition. Let’s check this one out.

Starting under the hood, one will find a 1.6-liter inline-four making a more than reasonable 130 horsepower lashed to a six-speed automatic. Sure, a stable with this number of horses doesn’t seem too impressive in an era where factory-warrantied 797hp Dodges are available to anyone who passes the credit check but, considering your author piloted an 88hp Ford Escort in his youth, it seems more than generous.

That ten-year old car, by the way, necessitated rest stops to check the gas and fill it up with oil — such was the blow-through problem. It was sold for $250 to a man who later crashed it after failing to transfer it out of my name, prompting a visit to my home from the constabulary. Luckily, I was as diligent with paperwork as I was with inventing new ways to stay lucid in Business 101 after an all-night bender on George Street, so the perp was quickly caught.

Back to the Kia. A lack of manual transmission is disappointing but not surprising in this day and age. The Rio makes up for it by offering the likes of standard air conditioning, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment display with CarPlay, and several USB ports. Cruise and audio buttons pepper the adjustable steering wheel.

Unlike some other manufacturers, Kia doesn’t reserve the good paint for its expensive whips. This base S is available in bright red and this natty blue, with body color door handles not belying your cheapskate ways. In a shrewd bit of marketing, the ‘S’ trim is denoted by a scripted red badge on the rump that implies this is a sporty rather than base model. Those el cheapo 15-inch tires will be affordable to replace in a few years. A technology package is on tap for a very reasonable $800, including the likes of forward collision avoidance and LED headlamps.

Despite being a hair more costly than its sedan sibling, the Rio 5-door makes a great case for itself, chalking up another Ace of Base win for Kia. Just remember to complete all the paperwork when you sell it ten years from now.

[Images: Kia]

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

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

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30 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2019 Kia Rio S 5-Door...”

  • avatar

    Ace of Base is pretty easy to do, on a vehicle that doesn’t HAVE any options other than the aforementioned $800 tech package, with a single base “S” trim.

    So it’s more like saying the entire model, itself, may be Ace of Base.

    That being said, it actually irritates me when automakers offer LED headlamps in the front, and not anywhere else.

    Further, when you advertise “full LED headlamps and tail lamps”, yet the rear cluster turn signals and reverse lamps are… halogen…….. (ahem, Hyundai…) It just appears and functions in a disjointed manner.

    Which, granted, I easily corrected with about $15 of my own money for 4 LED bulbs and 2 resistors, and NOW my Elantra GT N-Line’s exterior IS full LED and looks bright and fantastic. But still, advertising full LED front and rear, and it isn’t, is a bit of a finger-wag.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Slightly off ‘Ace of Base’ but in reference to the comments regarding LED lights. I have a slight concern/question regarding these and hope that the B&B can educate me. When driving in heavy snow or freezing rain, ‘old fashioned’ lighting systems created some heat which would help to keep the lenses clear. However since LED lights do not create heat will this create a problem, requiring either frequent stops to clear the lights, or the return of optional headlight wipers?

      I first noticed this issue, when my newer Christmas lights/floods became covered with/obscured by snow. This never happened with my old lights because of the heat that they generated.

      • 0 avatar

        Most European cars have headlight washers that came standard on Xenon and LED light equipped cars that clear snow ice and grime off the lights for that very reason. The only one that doesn’t are VWs in the US market for some reason.

    • 0 avatar

      LED lights do generate heat, just less of it to output the same amount of light. The LEDs used for headlights are still displacing 20+watts. I haven’t tested it myself, but I would bet that it’s enough heat to melt snow.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Thanks to those who replied. I was hoping however for even more input. Perhaps a question for Sajeev? Particularly after that wonderful answer from Daniel Stern. In fact there is at least one company that is producing ‘smart heat LED headlamps’.

        With some research I have found that a great deal of forums also mention this problem. To compound the issue, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has an article on LED traffic lights becoming ineffective due to snow buildup/blockage. (same ownership as TTAC) had an article on it, which I believe may be slightly incorrect. From that article:

        ‘But one major drawback that both traffic lights and vehicles have experienced with LEDs is their lack of produced heat. While the LED drivers mounted onto vehicle headlamps can produce enough heat that they require cooling fans, little of this energy gets to the lens where it can help to melt snow and ice. Fortunately, the air flow over these lamps helps to keep things clear in the winter. The same certainly cannot be said for tail lamps. Take a look at vehicles ahead of you while driving on snow-covered roads when their tires are kicking up a suitable amount of the white stuff. If those drivers are intelligent enough to have on all of their exterior lights, those vehicles equipped with incandescent bulbs will be showing you a bright clear red lens (unless they’re salt covered), while most of the LED type will be white with snow and almost utterly useless.’

    • 0 avatar

      My new Accord Touring does something like this! All LEDs outside..

      ..except for the rear indicators!

      And perusing the Chinese junk pile that is Amazon’s LED bulb section reveals that nothing with a built-in resistor on each bulb will fit the car! Just one of those “how much more would it REALLY have cost” questions!

  • avatar

    Apparently part of the Base for this car is you only get half of it. All of the pictures are severely cropped on the right side. At least as it displays for me on Chrome or IE.

  • avatar

    In the US market the Rio is probably about to be sent to heaven.

    For ’19 Kia heavily slashed options and trims. The 4-door now only comes in base ‘LX’ and ‘S’ trims while the hatch is only available in ‘S’. The ‘S’ trim is code for “same as LX but has cruise control and AA/ACP”. Only options on ‘S’ is a package with collision warning and a bigger screen. Alloy wheels are no longer available and the manual transmission is gone.

    Sales-wise it has weak volume for a low profit car. The Forte outsells it 4:1 and the Soul outsells it nearly 5:1 Most dealers stock only 1-3 units in inventory.

    • 0 avatar

      The S trim gives you a bit more than that–heated mirrors, the larger 7-inch touchscreen, 2 extra speakers, and a center console with storage, off the top of my head.

  • avatar

    It’s a shame that this can’t be had with a stick. The 6-speed in my Elantra is a nice unit and a pleasure to use.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m a little surprised that the Rio isn’t available with a stick, considering that it’s Kia’s lowest priced vehicle. For non-sporty cars these days, most manufacturers only keep the stick shift version to have a price leader.

      I see you can still get a base Soul and Forte with a stick. I wonder how much longer that will last.

  • avatar

    Cargurus is showing that Rio S models are available new for around $13-14000. Seems way too cheap. Maybe it’s due to the greasiness of Kia dealers trying to get people on the lot.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Those deals are usually based upon every possible incentive, which few people qualify for.

      As for Kia sales, they’re holding steady in a declining market.

      As for greasy, show me a mfr who isn’t. My Kia dealer experiences are: 1 greasy, 1 great. I drive a little farther to go to the great one.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I would buy a base Kia again in a heartbeat. Mine was a 2011 Forte LX (base) with no options and manual trans. I put 90k miles on it over 4 years, no issues at all beyond the Krappy stereo and speakers which I upgraded with Crutchfield products. A good solid appliance that served me well, and netted $6000 trade-in at a Mazda dealer—in spring of 2015 Mazda had an incentive with enhanced trade-in values for conquests from Kia owners.

    • 0 avatar

      The voice activated dialing on those radios is horrible. One of my kids has a 2012 Forte Koup SX, and I’ve never been able to use the voice dialing. It asks me to try again over and over. Overall, the car is pretty decent, especially the seat material used in the SX (better than the LX and EX).

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        No argument regarding the voice command functions. But the Kia is not alone here, Only a few cars I have driven have acceptable voice command systems…all those cars had FCA’s UConnect systems.

    • 0 avatar

      Curious, did yours come with Nexens? And were they lunched in 15000 miles? The 2011 I had came with some garbage Nexens that were down to wear bars after 15k.

      Also, did you ever have trouble grabbing 4th gear? I did, and it wasn’t a rare occurrence. I’d be getting up to speed for a freeway entrance and would attempt to drop into 4th gear; the shifter would completely stop and I couldn’t go further. I’d have to then rev back up and go back to 3rd, or jump to 5th. Several times I asked the dealer to check it and they couldn’t replicate without applying lateral pressure on the shifter, causing it to hit the gate; something I wasn’t doing. I’ve not had the same issue in the other manuals I’ve had.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        Wow…you either drive hard or got a lemon. My Nexens went about 35K ( I rotate tires religiously every other oil change) and I never had any transmission, shifter, or clutch issues of any sort.

        I must admit the 195 series Michelins I used to replace the 185 Nexens were sooooo much better!

      • 0 avatar

        My 2014 Kia Soul was fitted with Nexens. I think I got almost 60k miles on the set. They were never great handlers but they were perfectly serviceable (like the rest of the car). Replaced them with a set of Pirelli’s and handling difference was notable.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

    Near as I can tell from pictures, Kia now uses the same speedo/tach combination for most of its car lines, from the lowly Rio up through the Stinger. Besides redline markings on the tach, the only major difference looks to be larger TCT displays between them as you move higher up the model range.

    Hmm. At least it’s still much nicer to look at than the old Cadillac ATS/CTS cluster.

  • avatar

    I think this has the appearance of the modern “Cheap and Cheerful” Nobody’s going to look at that car and think it cost a lot of money, but neither does it look like it’s a model designed solely to get you to spend more money.

  • avatar

    a really quick google tells me the rio is about $15.5 vs $18k for the forte. you can get a stick and slightly bigger engine/gas tank/interior volume with the forte. either can be had for retail/fast food wages.

    my 2006 scion xa is comparable to the rio, and that was about $15.5 out the door almost 13 years ago!

    no shame with the rio, but “for just THIS much more each month!” the forte might be a better deal?

    • 0 avatar

      The Forte is not a very good comparison with this car. For one thing, it’s only available as a sedan, while here we’re talking about the Rio hatchback. Second, the Forte is massive compared to the Rio: 3 inches wider and more than 20 inches longer (for the hatchback). I agree that the base Forte is a decent deal, but if the Rio is the sort of car you like, the Forte isn’t going to be a great alternative.

      • 0 avatar

        ‘no shame with the rio, but “for just THIS much more each month!” the forte might be a better deal?’

        And that’s precisely how people get underwater quickly and the repo man starts knocking on the door.

        Toxic thinking yet everyone seems to be prone to it. SOP for too many.

        Why rent to own places are so popular and people fall for that crap every minute of the day.

  • avatar

    Why does a 5 door hatchback cost more than the four door sedan? I thought they were paying you to know things like that!

    Probable answer: Reinforced bod for a heavy hatch instead of a lightweight trunklid to swing on, a couple of gas struts instead of bent tin goosenecks, interior trim on the hatch and rear interior body sides compared to the $1.39 mat in a trunk, and an extra wiper/associated motor and washer system and flexible wiring loom to power it and the heated rear backlight.

    Only exception to the rule? A GTI costs less than an FWD Audi A3, he said tongue-in-cheek. However, Audi sticks you with the Budack Gasper Motor instead of the GTI mill in the A3 FWD models.

  • avatar

    ‘When exactly did it come to pass that hatchback versions of small cars were generally priced higher than their sedan counterparts’

    Whenever it was done it was to combat the dork/geek image that hung over from the 70s and it’s hatchbacks.

    Ace of Base entry and complain about “el cheapo 15 tires” ? You’re killing your own reason for your column. Those 15 inchers will be inexpensive to replace and are far more generous than your Escort’s 13″ rubber.

    Low repair, parts and service cost is, I would think, part of the point of shopping an Ace Of Base model.

    You can chuck that idea of an $800 [quickly obsolete] package of tech junk]as well.Not what a true Baser would even remotely consider. You’re hanging out with the wrong crowd, Matthew, if you want to suggest an item like that.

    Stay focused. This is one of the best columns on TTAC.

  • avatar

    I just built this online ($16,490) for $17,6 with dest. When clicking on find one near your zip, I see the S model in ranges from 17,640 to 18,490 [!].

    Perusing the local dealers, I see “savings” and “dealer discounts” <1K but no direct cash on the hood (there is however $1,000 financing offer, and a military discount of $400).

    I paid 17,5 new for my MY18 Toyota IM and am feeling good about it every time I see stuff like this.

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