$9,370 - $13,124

2016 Kia Rio Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Kia Rio was new.


Performance: 7.0

According to reviewers, the 2016 Kia Rio's engine has plenty of power, and its transmission makes the most of it. A few note that the powertrain can feel unrefined when pushed, however. Test drivers appreciate the 2016 Rio's responsive steering and sharp handling, which they say creates a fun driving experience, though some report that certain trims have a harsh ride.

  • "The 2016 Kia Rio's 138-hp engine provides quicker-than-average acceleration for a subcompact sedan or hatchback." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2015)
  • "Rio's attributes blend into a pleasant, satisfying feel behind the wheel." -- USA Today (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Rio has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 138 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. For 2016, the six-speed manual transmission is discontinued. The EPA estimates that the 2016 Rio earns 27/37 mpg city/highway, which is just below average for the class.

The Rio has a more powerful engine than most rivals, and test drivers report that it produces fairly quick acceleration. Reviewers say the six-speed automatic transmission also makes the most of the engine’s power. Still, a few critics note that the engine can be somewhat loud and unrefined.

  • The 2016 Kia Rio's 1.6-liter four-cylinder is one of the more powerful engines in the subcompact car class, so acceleration is a relative strength. Unfortunately, the Rio's engine can get a bit noisy during hard acceleration. Still, this little Kia feels sprightly enough when you goose it. Few drivers will complain that it's underpowered." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2015)
  • "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

The Kia Rio's sport-tuned suspension and responsive steering provide sharp handling, reviewers say. However, they note that some rivals are a bit more engaging. Critics say the Rio's ride may be too firm for some, particularly in SX models. They find that the brakes work well.

  • We've mainly driven the Rio SX, whose larger wheels and tires and firmer suspension tuning separate it from the LX and EX. Competent around turns, the Rio SX nonetheless lacks the handling finesse of class leaders. In addition, the Rio SX's ride can be choppy and even harsh over rough pavement. If ride comfort 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 (2015)
  • "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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