$7,856 - $11,055

2015 Kia Rio Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 Kia Rio was new.


Performance: 7.7

The 2015 Kia Rio gets good fuel economy, and reviewers say it has impressive acceleration for a subcompact car. While the 2015 Rio also earns praise for its composed handling, some test drivers say that it isn’t as agile as competitors like the Ford Fiesta.

  • "Economy cars are a natural in the city but don't usually perform all that well on long highway expanses, but in testing the Kia Rio on such roads it surprised us with peppy acceleration, a stable ride and a quiet interior." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • If it sounds as if we're fans of the Kia Rio, it's because we are. However, this little Kia's biggest drawback is that it lacks the sophisticated driving manners found in other top small cars, like the Chevrolet Sonic, 2015 Ford Fiesta and 2015 Honda Fit. They offer more composed rides and more engaging handling." -- Edmunds
  • "Rio's attributes blend into a pleasant, satisfying feel behind the wheel." -- USA Today (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Kia Rio has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is available. According to the EPA, the 2015 Rio gets 27/37 mpg city/highway with either transmission, which is good for the class. An available Eco package raises fuel economy slightly to 28/37.

According to critics, the 2015 Rio has a powerful engine for a subcompact car, which allows for strong acceleration around town and worry-free merging on the highway.

  • "We also must give kudos to the little 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, which is eager to put its 138 horsepower to good use and plays exceedingly well when paired with the 6-speed automatic transmission." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 2015 Kia Rio's 1.6-liter four-cylinder is one of the more powerful engines in this class, and overall, acceleration is impressive for a subcompact." -- Edmunds
  • "The direct-inject four-cylinder offers class-leading horsepower (tied with the Chevrolet Sonic and the Rio's Hyundai Accent cousin car) and getting the most out of the engine is easier with the manual." -- AutoWeek (2013)
  • "With the automatic transmission, Rio 5 offers good acceleration from a stop and enough gumption for drama-free highway merging." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Handling and Braking

Automotive journalists write that the 2015 Kia Rio has responsive steering and braking. With its sport-tuned suspension, test drivers say the Rio SX has the most nimble handling in the model lineup. However, some say it has a harsh ride and isn’t as athletic as rivals like the Ford Fiesta.

  • The Rio SX is competent around turns, but it's definitely not the best handling car in this class. In addition, the Kia's ride is choppy bordering on harsh, depending on the condition of the pavement. If a softer ride is important to you, the EX is likely a better bet." -- Edmunds
  • In spirited driving, the Rio is fairly agile, but not as fun as a Mazda2 or Fiesta." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Responsive, well-weighted steering and easy to modulate brakes help create confidence behind the wheel." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • Like any front-wheel driver, it will plow ahead when pushed, but I would argue that the Rio SX with the manual is one of the more entertaining cars to drive. The tradeoff is a stiffer ride quality." -- AutoWeek (2013)

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