Buyer's Guide

2021 Kia Rio
Select a Different Model (3 Available): 5-Door S Hatchback
Fuel Economy $ 33 / 41 mpg
Safety (IIHS) Good
Horsepower 120@6,300
Torque 112@4,500
See All Specs
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2021 Kia Rio MODEL OVERVIEW

Pros

  • Excellent feature-per-dollar value
  • Impressive fuel economy
  • Inexpensive without feeling cheap

Cons

  • Lacks power and torque
  • Small second row

The Rio is Kia's smallest and most affordable car: a subcompact four-door sedan that's also available as a hatchback. It's positioned below the Forte, K5, and Stinger among Kia's non-SUV offerings. In terms of direct competition, the Rio lines up well with other subcompact sedans and hatchbacks including the Nissan Versa, Mitsubishi Mirage, and Chevrolet Spark.

What's New

  • Updated front and rear styling
  • Standard new 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display

What We Think

We appreciate the Rio as a well-rounded, successful execution of an affordable subcompact car. The cabin features a handsome mix of materials and a logical layout of buttons. It's tasteful, and inexpensive without feeling cheap. A newly standard 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display sweetens an already appealing package.

The Rio is even a decent car to drive. Its suspension delivers a ride quality that is firm enough to provide control and still retain a degree of suppleness. Some of our staffers have complained about its underwhelming exterior design, though, and there are times when it can feel underpowered. Though the engine may be light on power, impressive fuel economy makes its meager output easier to swallow.

The Rio isn't an exceptional car, and it has its flaws, but its superb value, solid dynamics, and refined interior make it our top-ranked subcompact sedan and top-rated subcompact hatch.

Performance and Fuel Economy

Kia installs the same engine under the hood of every Rio, regardless of trim or body style. It's a 1.6-liter non-turbo four-cylinder that develops 120 hp and 112 lb-ft of torque, and the engine works with a CVT automatic transmission to deliver power to the front wheels. When we tested a 2018 Rio hatchback with a 130-hp version of the I-4, it scooted to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds. The 2021 Rio is EPA-rated at 33/41 mpg city/highway.

Safety

The Rio achieved top scores in all IIHS crash tests except the passenger-side small overlap front crash test, where it got an Acceptable rating. This test replicates what happens when the front right corner of a car crashes into an object at 40 mph.

No driver assist active safety features are standard, but a Rio S with the Technology package adds automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist with lane centering, automatic high beams, driver attention warning, and rear occupant alert.

Cargo Space and Interior Room

Both sedan and hatchback body styles of the Rio provide seating for five, but cargo capacity varies. The sedan offers a reasonable 13.7 cubic feet; hatchback cargo capacity measures 17.4 cubes behind the rear seats and 32.8 with the seats folded down. (That said, sedan and hatchback cargo capacity are measured differently and can't be directly compared.) In either car, legroom comes in at 42.1 inches up front and 33.5 inches for rear seat passengers.

Technology

New for this year, every Rio includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display, a noticeable upgrade from the 7.0-inch display in the 2020 model. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is a four-speaker audio system. A 3.5-inch instrument cluster display is included on all variants and can be upgraded to a 4.2-inch display with the Rio S Technology package.

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2021 KIA RIO SPECIFICATIONS
OVERVIEW
FEATURES
WARRANTY/RECALL
SAFETY
REBATES
Engine Name
Engine: 4-Cyl 1.6 Liter Gamma 1.6 MPI
Transmission Name
Transmission, IVT Continuously Variable Automatic
Trim
5-Door S Hatchback
Class
Compact Passenger Car
Horsepower
120@6,300
Standard MPG
33/41
Body Style
Hatchback
Drivetrain
FWD
Fuel Type
Unleaded Regular
Seating Capacity
5/5
Package Invoice Retail
Show Full Specs
Corrosion Warranty Miles
100,000
Maintenance Warranty Months
none
Corrosion Warranty Months
60
Powertrain Warranty Miles
100,000
Full Warranty Miles
60,000
Powertrain Warranty Months
120
Full Warranty Months
60
Roadside Assistance Miles
60,000
Maintenance Warranty Miles
N/R
Roadside Assistance Months
60
IIHS Best Pick
0
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
Good
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
IIHS Front Small Overlap
Good
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
IIHS Overall Side Crash
Good
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
IIHS Rear Crash
Good
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
IIHS Roof Strength
Good
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
Amount Description Expiry Date
$400 Kia announces a Bonus Cash on select models for eligible military personnel. 06-30-2021
$0 1.9% Financing for a maximum term of 72 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models. 07-06-2021
$750 Kia announces Customer Cash on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 07-06-2021
$0 0% Financing available for varying term lengths : 36, 48, 60 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models. 07-06-2021
$0 2.9% Financing available for varying term lengths : 75, 84 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models. 07-06-2021
$0 0.9% Financing for a maximum term of 66 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models. 07-06-2021