$3,309 - $4,037

2009 Kia Rio Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Kia Rio was new.


Performance: 7.0

The 2009 Kia Rio does well as a simple A to B transport, but the sedan performs its best when you opt for the manual transmission, or the LX or SX's optional power steering or anti-lock brakes.

  • "Rio has come a long way since its first generation. It's vastly more refined and a much better driving car." -- Automobile.com
  • "Rios are solidly built and are generally comfortable subcompacts. Still, there is some jouncing on wavy pavement, thumping on smaller bumps, and occasional jolts on larger disturbances." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The prior Rio's performance was decidedly modest, but this version is easily adequate, even with the automatic transmission." -- Cars.com

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Rio is sporty in its own way. Reviewers had the best results with the five-speed manual transmission with overdrive, but also applaud the electronically-controlled four-speed transmission's ability. With a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine that makes 110 horsepower, the Rio should achieve 27/33 mpg city/highway with a manual transmission and 26/35 mpg using the automatic, according to the EPA.

  • "Rio is adequate around town with either transmission but could use more power for highway passing. The manual transmission shifts easily and has light clutch action." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Performance is improved but is no more than adequate with the mannerly automatic transmission. Although the engine gets seriously buzzy when accelerating, it quiets nicely at speed." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The LX with the automatic transmission was no slouch. Cars in this class traditionally suffer a big performance and fuel economy hit with an automatic, but the Rio confirms that modern transmissions have largely addressed these deficiencies." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Acceleration suffers a little when you choose the automatic transmission." -- Edmunds
  • "Rio has that zero-to-30 mph burst and then settles into economode." -- Chicago Tribune

Handling and Braking

Test drivers opted for the 2009 Rio's power-assisted rack and pinion steering and anti-lock brakes before testing the sedan, and found the investment well worth it.

  • "The Rio's ride is smooth and stable, and even at 75 mph, the cabin is hushed. The suspension isn't as composed over broken pavement as we'd like, though, as large impacts tend to shudder through the cabin." -- Edmunds
  • "Ride comfort and easy maneuverability head the list of the 2009 Kia Rio's merits. Even when the pavement gets troublesome, the Rio's suspension absorbs considerable roughness. Steering is light, but the Rio is delightfully nimble in urban environments, tracks adeptly on straightaways and is easy to guide into turns." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Available ABS furnishes good stopping control and pedal feel. But a test LX without ABS suffered early rear-wheel lockup in rapid braking on wet roads." -- Consumer Guide

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