$3,717 - $5,633

2010 Kia Rio Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2010 Kia Rio was new.


Performance: 7.1

Reviewers say that the 2010 Kia Rio will get the job done if you need a car for day-to-day commutes and errands, but it lags behind class leaders for acceleration and ride quality. They also complain of excessive engine noise.

  • "We've driven most versions of the Kia Rio and are impressed with it." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "The engine is noisy at higher rpm. Cruising is less noisy with the automatic transmission vs the manual. There is moderate wind rush. Rios have lots of tire thrum over coarse pavement and some thumping over bumps." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Rio's 1.6-liter engine gets noisy at high rpm but provides decent punch, especially with the manual transmission. Precise action and a smooth clutch make shifting the manual gearbox enjoyable. Rios with the automatic aren't as peppy, although gear changes are smooth and relatively quick." -- Edmunds
  • "Although Kia has made major improvements in noise, vibration and harshness, the Rio's engine is still buzzy at high speed and lacks the smoothness and refinement of its Japanese competitors." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

All Rio and Rio5 models have the same 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 110 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is available. Reviewers say that the car doesn’t have great acceleration, but it works well as a daily driver, and with the manual transmission, can even be fun to drive. Reviewers suggest that drivers who want more passing punch should opt for the Rio5 model, which they say accelerates better and is more fun to drive.

The EPA estimates that the 2010 Rio achieves 28/34 mpg city/highway with the standard manual transmission. These numbers, particularly the city fuel economy rating, are good for the class.

  • "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
  • "We enjoyed shifting the manual as it definitely makes for a more sporty experience. However, 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
  • "Unlike some small cars with automatics, the Rio goes through the gears promptly and easily, with no awkwardness or lurching. Shifts are barely noticed, in fact, though the manual transmission can deliver slightly more spirited acceleration." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Acceleration suffers a little when you choose the automatic transmission. A Rio5 SX automatic we tested took 11.5 seconds to run to 60 mph." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Test drivers appreciate the Rio’s responsive steering and decent cornering ability. Nonetheless, they caution that the ride can be bumpy over rough pavement. A smooth ride in the Rio’s price point doesn’t really exist, but if you can afford to spend a bit more, consider the Kia Forte, which offers more standard features than nearly any car in the class and has a smooth ride.

  • "The Rio is far from being a sporty car, but the SX handled nimbly without too much body lean or sloppy motion. The LX, with its skinner 14-inch tires, was not quite as secure, though most drivers will not complain. The power steering, which stiffens up as the engine speed increases, felt taught with just the right amount of feel dialed in." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "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 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
  • "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. Through curves the body doesn't lean as much as might be expected." -- Kelley Blue Book

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