$10,821 - $14,837

2017 Kia Rio Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Kia Rio was new.


Performance: 7.8

The 2017 Kia Rio is a good all-around performer, offering one of the strongest engines in the class, as well as athletic handling and a secure ride. Its steering is communicative, and the brakes are strong. Still, some competitors like the Mini Cooper and Ford Fiesta have better driving dynamics. The Rio's fuel economy estimates are low for the class.

  • "Out on the open road the ride is smooth and stable, even luxurious for a car in this class. The steering is nicely weighted and responsive, and the brakes are strong." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 2016 Kia Rio's 138-hp engine provides quicker-than-average acceleration for a subcompact sedan or hatchback." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Rio's power comes from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower. It's mated to a six-speed manual transmission, while a six-speed automatic is available. The 2017 Rio equipped with an automatic transmission gets 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, which are slightly less-than-average numbers for the class.

The Rio's engine is one of the strongest among subcompact cars, and the Rio has no trouble getting up to highway speeds. On the other hand, the engine can be somewhat loud when you're traveling at faster speeds. The six-speed automatic transmission is a good match for the engine, helping make the most of its power.

  • "Acceleration/merging is no problem thanks to the 1.6-liter engine's 138 horsepower. It doesn't sound like much, but the Rio can get up and go around that big trucker with ease." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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

Handling and Braking

With its fairly agile handling, responsive brakes, and quick steering, the Rio is relatively athletic for a subcompact car. It feels stable on the road, so strong wind gusts won't sway the car. Steering is appropriately weighted, and the brakes are strong. Still, the Rio isn't quite as athletic or fun to drive as competitors like the Ford Fiesta. Some reviewers also find its ride quality to be harsh.

  • "What surprised us about the new 2017 Rio is how solid and substantial it feels, despite being Kia's smallest and least expensive model. Even those extra-large urban potholes couldn't rattle its cage. And the story is just as sweet out on the highway, where many small cars can struggle." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Our primary complaint is that the Rio lacks the suspension refinement found in some rivals, and its ride and handling characteristics suffer as a result." -- Edmunds
  • "Responsive, well-weighted steering and easy to modulate brakes help create confidence behind the wheel." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

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