$5,507 - $7,629

2013 Kia Rio Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Kia Rio was new.


Performance: 7.8

Most reviewers say the 2013 Kia Rio is an adequate performer for daily driving, with plenty of power and a smooth-shifting automatic transmission. They also generally like the way the Rio handles, saying it is soft enough to not be jarring on rough roads, but not so spongy that there is a lot of body lean through turns.

  • "As we've only driven the SX, these impressions pertain mostly to that trim. With its firmer suspension tuning, the 2013 Kia Rio SX is a good choice for those who like feeling connected to the car but still want a comfortable ride." -- Edmunds
  • "To its credit, however, the Rio (in either body style) is one of the better-driving compact cars on the market." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "For a sub-compact that's not really a sports car, the Rio 5-door is surprisingly fun and a capable handler, feeling a bit like a budget GTi. It's also quieter than many in the segment, including the Accent, although not as quiet as the Sonic." -- Motor Week (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Kia Rio comes standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower. A six-speed manual comes standard, and a six-speed automatic is optional. With a manual transmission, the Rio achieves an EPA-estimated 29/37 mpg city/highway, while models with an automatic transmission get 28/36 mpg.

While the Rio may not satisfy speed demons, critics generally say the Rio’s powertrain is fine for most people’s day-to-day needs. They find that it is powerful enough to not feel strained merging on the highway, and generally feels peppy enough to keep up with traffic. Reviewers like the automatic transmission, saying it shifts smoothly and willingly downshifts when extra power is needed for passing on the freeway.

  • "With the automatic transmission, Rio 5 offers good acceleration from a stop and enough gumption for drama-free highway merging. The 6-speed automatic shifts smoothly and downshifts promptly when called upon for more power." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Even so, its direct-injected four-cylinder is one of the more robust in its class and delivers impressive acceleration for a subcompact." -- Edmunds
  • "When the staff tried out the new Rio, comments ranged from the lukewarm ‘not bad, but not great’ to ‘peppy -- and the transmission shifts pretty quick.’ The six-speed automatic was a huge step up from the 2011's four-speed." -- Motor Trend (2012)
  • "The new four-cylinder is powerful for the class, and the six-speed automatic gearbox was quick to downshift when we needed some extra kick for merging and passing. It's not fast by any means, but what car in this category can you call fast?" -- AutoWeek (2012)

Handling and Braking

The 2013 Kia Rio isn’t all that sporty, but test drivers are generally pleased with the Rio’s overall handling, as long you don’t expect too much in the way of refinement. They generally like its steering, indicating that the Rio is easy to maneuver in a parking lot and keep straight on the highway. Critics also say that while it isn’t the most agile of handlers, it maintains its composure through turns without lots of body roll. If you’re looking for something a bit sportier, check out the Mazda2 or Ford Fiesta.

  • "Responsive, well-weighted steering and easy to modulate brakes help create confidence behind the wheel. Body lean is minimal, and the car tracks well on the highway. Overall, Rio is nimble and pleasant to drive for a subcompact." -- Consumer Guide
  • "You may even have some fun behind the wheel, but it's not really that sporty and doesn't quite have that sophisticated blend of sharp handling and controlled ride like the Chevy Sonic or Ford Fiesta. Still, the Rio feels surprisingly grown up for such a small car, and regardless of trim, you won't feel Lilliputian in a Gulliver world when cruising down the freeway." -- Edmunds
  • "The Rio felt stable at higher speeds, and had sportier handling than expected. It's decent fun in turns, but there's no shortage of tire squeal. There are typical subcompact downsides, such as engine noise, hard seats, and a rough ride on choppy roads." -- Motor Trend (2012)

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