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2020 Kia Rio Review

The 2020 Kia Rio's engaging ride and strong predicted reliability rating help it place in the top third of our subcompact car rankings. However, it doesn't offer as many safety features as its rivals.

Pros & Cons

  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Attractive, comfortable cabin
  • Athletic handling
  • Great fuel economy
  • Few advanced safety features

New for 2020

  • New four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission
  • 7-inch touch screen, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay now standard




Critics' Rating: 7.7
Performance: 7.7
Interior: 7.2
Safety: 9.3
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Kia Rio?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

 Is the Kia Rio a Good Car?

Yes, the Kia Rio is a good subcompact car. It has a solid amount of passenger space and an attractive cabin in both sedan and hatchback body styles. For 2020, it gains a new standard infotainment system equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The Rio boasts good fuel economy and nimble handling, but some shoppers may find the ride too firm.

Should I Buy the Kia Rio?

You should consider purchasing the Rio if you want a well-rounded small car with a fairly sporty drive, a comfortable cabin, and an excellent predicted reliability rating. We named the Rio a finalist for our Best Subcompact Car for the Money because of its solid combination of quality and value.

While the Rio is a strong option, you may want to consider some other cars in the class, including the Honda Fit and Chevrolet Sonic. The Fit offers more available active safety features than the Rio, including lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. The Sonic has similar attributes to the Rio but features a larger cargo area.

Compare the Rio, Fit, and Sonic »

Should I Buy a New or Used Kia Rio?

The 2020 Rio is part of a generation that started with the 2018 model year, and there have already been some notable changes.

For 2019, the EX trim and the manual transmission were discontinued, while power windows, a rearview camera, and Bluetooth were added to the standard features list. For 2020, Kia adds a more efficient but less peppy four-cylinder engine, and a continuously variable automatic transmission replaces the six-speed automatic. The new standard infotainment system features a 7-inch touch screen (up from 5 inches in older models), six speakers, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay.

One reason to consider a new Rio over a used one is the improved fuel economy from the new powertrain. Also, if you’re shopping for a base model Rio, the 2020 version is the better choice. If you're interested in a higher trim, however, or you don't care about the new powertrain, you should consider a used 2018 or 2019 Rio instead. Many of the newly standard features were available as options in these models, so you’ll likely save money and get a similar car.

You can save even more money if you buy a Rio from the previous generation, but there are a few differences to be aware of. Models prior to 2018 have a different look than newer models, and they do not come with a standard touch screen. Also, models from this generation are not available with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. On the plus side, this generation's hatchbacks have a larger maximum cargo capacity.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 Rio, 2018 Rio, and 2019 Rio reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Rio »

We Did the Research for You: 26 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 26 Kia Rio reviews, as well as performance specs, interior dimensions, fuel economy ratings, and more, to give you all the information you need to make a smart car-buying decision.

This 2020 Rio review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for the 2018 model year.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain impartial, we do not accept extravagant gifts from automakers, and an outside source handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Kia Rio Cost?

The 2020 Kia Rio sedan starts at $15,750, which is about average for a subcompact car. The hatchback starts at $16,690.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

Kia Rio Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Kia Rio or Honda Fit?

The Honda Fit has a higher maximum cargo capacity than the Rio, and it comes standard with the versatile rear Magic Seat, which makes it easier to load a variety of cargo. The Fit also has more available safety and comfort features, including leather upholstery, heated front seats, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. However, the Kia comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which you'll have to pay extra for in the Fit. Both cars earn excellent fuel economy estimates. Both are good cars, but the Honda is a better one.

Which Is Better: Kia Rio or Toyota Yaris?

The Toyota Yaris is one of the most underpowered vehicles in the subcompact car class, but it's a solid alternative for those who don’t do a lot of highway driving. Like the Rio, it comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. However, the Toyota comes with more standard safety technology than the Kia, including low-speed forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. The Yaris doesn't have as much rear-seat passenger space as the Rio, but its handling is just as tight as the Kia's. Choosing between these two ultimately comes down to personal preference.

Compare the Rio, Fit, and Yaris »

Rio Interior

How Many People Does the Rio Seat?

There's seating for up to five people in the Rio. The front seats are roomy, but the tilt-only steering wheel may make it harder for taller drivers to find a comfortable driving position. The rear seats are cramped, but that's to be expected from a subcompact car.

Rio and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Rio sedan’s LATCH system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for ease of use. The system is fairly user-friendly, but the lower anchors are too deep in the seats.

Rio Interior Quality

The Rio is a budget-friendly vehicle that features quite a few hard plastics. The cabin is nicely constructed, however, and some reviewers even say that the Rio's interior looks upscale.

Rio Cargo Space

The Rio provides lots of cargo space for a subcompact car in both its sedan and hatchback variants. There's 13.7 cubic feet of trunk space in the sedan, which is enough room for roughly 10 bags of groceries. Available 60/40-split-folding rear seats allow for improved flexibility. For even more space, go for a hatchback model. They offer 17.4 cubic feet of space behind the back row and 32.8 cubic feet with its standard 60/40-split-folding rear seats folded down.

Rio Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Kia added an upgraded infotainment system to the base 2020 Rio LX. It includes a 7-inch touch screen, six speakers, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The system features user-friendly touch and physical controls. Bluetooth, a USB port, and Siri Eyes Free are also standard, while a rear USB port is available in the LX and standard in the S trim.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Rio Performance

Rio Engine: Less Power, More Efficient

The Rio features a new 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 120 horsepower (10 less than the 2019 model). The engine provides adequate power, but it can get noisy at highway speeds. A continuously variable automatic transmission replaces the previous model’s six-speed automatic. The new engine and transmission combine to appreciably improve fuel economy estimates, and reviewers note that the Rio's performance isn't hindered by this change.

Rio Gas Mileage: Among the Best

The Rio delivers an EPA-estimated 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. These are some of the best fuel economy figures in the class.

Rio Ride and Handling: Balanced Ride

The Rio delivers a comfortable ride with agile handling. It easily maneuvers around corners, and its suspension system soaks up most bumps in the road. Front-wheel drive is standard.

Read more about performance »

Rio Reliability

Is the Kia Rio Reliable?

The 2020 Kia Rio has a stellar predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Kia Rio Warranty

The Rio comes with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Rio Safety

Rio Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2020 Kia Rio the highest rating of Good in five crash tests and the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the small overlap front passenger-side crash test. S trims with the Technology package earned a Good rating for how well the headlights illuminate the road ahead, while all other models received a Poor rating. Properly equipped models earned a top rating of Superior for front crash prevention.

As of this writing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not evaluated the 2020 Rio.

Rio Safety Features

The only advanced safety feature that comes standard in the Rio is a rearview camera. Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking are the only available advanced safety features. Several class rivals, including the Honda Fit, offer more safety tech.

Read more about safety »

Rio Dimensions and Weight

The Rio sedan is about 14.4 feet long, while the hatchback is 13.3 feet long. The Rio's curb weight is roughly 2,762 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Kia Rio Built?

Kia builds the 2020 Rio in Mexico.

Which Kia Rio Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Kia Rio comes in two body styles: sedan and hatchback. Sedan models come in two trims – LX and S – while hatchback models come in just one, the S trim. All models feature a 120-horsepower four-cylinder engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is not available.

Most sedan shoppers will be happy with the base LX trim, which comes standard with a decent number of features. For things like cruise control and 60/40-split-folding rear seats, though, you'll need to step up to the S trim.

Kia Rio LX

The sedan-only LX trim starts at $15,750 and includes an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, six speakers, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, a USB port, and Siri Eyes Free. It also comes standard with a rearview camera, air conditioning, and power windows.

Kia Rio S

The S trim starts at $16,390 for the sedan and $16,690 for the hatchback. Both versions add a rear USB port, cruise control, remote keyless entry, and 60/40-split-folding rear seats.

An S Technology package is available for an additional $800. It adds forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and LED headlights.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

See 2020 Kia Rio specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Kia Rio has a lot going for it, including good fuel economy estimates, athletic handling, and newly standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. However, rivals have more standard and available safety tech.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Value reigns supreme in the subcompact class, but that doesn't mean you need to settle for a car with bland character. The 2020 Kia Rio is priced reasonably but also comes with a load of features and a sporty character." -- Edmunds
  • "If you're looking for an attractive subcompact city runabout that blends good fuel economy with lots of value, the 2019 Kia Rio deserves attention. It fits with ease in snug parking spots, it boasts Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, it's available with autonomous emergency braking, and it has a fantastic powertrain warranty." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
  • "Fuel efficiency and value is in these days, which is why the 2019 Kia Rio proves to be such a resilient player. Offered as a sedan or a more versatile 5-door hatchback, the fourth-generation Kia Rio delivers value, economy and style, all at a very reasonable price." -- Autotrader (2019)


Expert Advice

Last Updated: October 16, 2020

Declining Sales: Sales of the Kia Rio this year are down 6 percent compared to the same span in 2019. Even so, the Rio sits in the upper half of the subcompact car sales rankings. It is being outsold by the class sales-leading Nissan Versa by 68 percent.

Research more buying advice »
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2020 Kia Rio

MSRP: $15,850 - $16,790

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