Over the past few years, Korean automaker Kia has been on a mission to change public perception of its brand. No longer is it the quirky Korean brand that’s attached to the hip with Hyundai. Granted, it is still attached to Hyundai and you can trace nearly every Kia model back to Hyundai roots; it simply has a little more design freedom these days.

Now, it’s ready to take on the big boys. To its credit, it’s doing so with a full armada of new vehicle offerings that’ll cater to a wide range of consumer palettes.

One such model that Kia has high hopes for is the 2013 Rio Sedan. First introduced in 2000, the Rio has since spawned three generations, a remarkable achievement in itself considering that despite being a relative neophyte in its segment, it has managed to hold its own against the Corollas and Civics of the world.

Make no mistakes, though; the Rio still has its work cut out for it, given the tradition and popularity of its Japanese competitors.

Yet that has been a challenge that Kia has fully embraced, if only for the rather simple reason that if you’re going to make a name for yourself in the industry, you’re going to need to target the heavyweights and give them some reason to look in their rear-view mirrors.

The Rio definitely has the tools to take the battle to its rivals. The question is does it have the tools to attract the most important group of people: buyers.

Click past the jump to read about the 2013 Kia Rio Sedan

  • 2013 Kia Rio Sedan
  • Year:
    2013
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    Electronically controlled 6-speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    138
  • MPG(Cty):
    28
  • MPG(Hwy):
    36
  • Torque @ RPM:
    123
  • Displacement:
    1.6 L
  • 0-60 time:
    9 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    130 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    17700
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2013 Kia Rio Sedan High Resolution Exterior
- image 511510

It’s safe to say that the Kia Rio sedan now proudly carries the automaker’s new design language, highlighted by the dynamic front end that features Kia’s new signature grille.

The athletic profile of the sedan also exhibits a more pronounced look with highly sculpted and sloping shoulder lines serving as clear design testaments that the Rio means serious business.

That in itself is a victory for Kia, long considered as a bland brand that continuously produced average vehicles. But that’s not Kia’s reputation anymore; it’s moving up in the industry and serving clear notice that cars like the Rio sedan are coming to take a piece of the compact sedan market.

Exterior Dimensions:

Wheelbase 101.2 in.
Track (Front/Rear) 59.9 in./60.0 in.
Length 171.9 in.
Width 67.7 in.
Height 57.3 in.
Ground Clearance 5.5 in.

Exterior Features:

Trim LX EX SX
15" tires with steel wheels with covers S S
15" tires with alloy wheels O
17" tires with alloy wheels S
Sport-tuned suspension S
Body-colour exterior door handles S S S
Black mesh radiator grille S
Black mesh radiator grille with chrome surround S S
Dual body-color heated power mirrors S S S
Outside mirrors with turn-signal indicators O S
Power folding outside mirrors O S
Power sunroof with tilt O
Multi-reflector headlamps S S
Front fog lights O S
Front LED accent lights S
LED taillights S
Dual exhaust tips S
Front variable intermittent windshield wipers S S S
Rear window wiper and washer S S S
Locking fuel-filler door S S S
Heated rear glass with timer S S S

Interior

2013 Kia Rio Sedan Interior
- image 511519

Complementing the improved exterior look of the 2013 Rio sedan is a cabin that proudly emphasizes spaciousness and comfort above all else.

The longer wheelbase of the car (101.2 inches) instantly provides passenger room and comfort, an important new development considering that its rivals in the business are all doing the same thing.

What gives the Rio a distinct leg up is the load of programs that buyers can fit into the car, depending on the trim. For example, the standard LX comes with a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, tilt steering column, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, trip computer, electric power steering and a 60/40 split folding rear seats. That’s a huge amount of standard equipment for a compact car.

Meanwhile, the middle-statesman EX trim boasts of its own unique features, including: standard power windows with automatic up/down on the driver’s window; cruise control with steering-wheel-mounted controls; tilt and telescopic steering wheel; Bluetooth wireless connectivity with steering wheel-mounted voice activation controls to enable hands-free operation for compatible mobile phones; and a sleek metallic finish throughout with leatherette door trim.

And finally, the top-of-the-line SX trim has its own upscale and athletic digs, highlighted by new standard steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, metal pedals, metal grain, a Supervision meter cluster, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual map lights, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, UVO powered by Microsoft voice-activated infotainment system with rear camera display based on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform.

Consider all these features fair warning to the rest of the vehicular lot that Kia is loading up the Rio to have all the functionality and purpose of a car normally reserved for higher-up markets. That says a lot.

Interior Dimensions:

Legroom (Front/Rear) 43.8 in./31.1 in. 43.8 in./31.1 in. 43.8 in./31.1 in.
Headroom (Front/Rear) 40.0 in./37.6 in. 40.0 in./37.6 in. 40.0 in./37.6 in.
Shoulder Room (Front/Rear) 53.1 in./52.1 in. 53.1 in./52.1 in. 53.1 in./52.1 in.
Hip Room (Front/Rear) 52.1 in./51.2 in. 52.1 in./51.2 in. 52.1 in./51.2 in.
Passenger Volume 88.6 cu. ft. 88.6 cu. ft. 88.6 cu. ft.
Cargo Volume (Rear Seat Up) 13.7 cu. ft. 13.7 cu. ft. 13.7 cu. ft.

Interior Features:

Trim Level LX EX SX
UVO in-vehicle infotainment system with rear-camera display O S
AM/FM/CD/MP3/SiriusXM™ audio system S S S
Four speakers S
Four speakers with A-pillar-mounted tweeters S S
USB/auxiliary input jacks S S S
Bluetooth® wireless technology S S
Navigation with SiriusXM Traffic™ and rear-camera display O
Push-button start with Smart Key O
Steering wheel-mounted audio buttons S
Steering wheel-mounted audio/Bluetooth® wireless technology/cruise-control buttons S S
Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters (A/T) S
Cruise control S S
Supervision meter cluster S
Auto-on/off headlights O S
Power windows with driver’s one-touch auto up and down O S S
Power door locks with remote keyless entry O S S
Air conditioning S S S
Dual front cup holders S S S
Tilt steering column S
Tilt and telescopic steering column S S
Trip computer S S S
Center console with sliding armrest and storage S S
Dual map lights O S
Luggage area cover S S S
Front and rear lower-door-trim bottle holder S S S

Seating and Trim Features

Trim Level LX EX SX
Cloth seat trim S
Premium cloth seat trim S S
Leather seat trim O
6-way adjustable driver’s seat S S S
Heated front seats O
60/40 split-folding rear seat S S S
Leather-wrapped steering wheel/gearshift knob O S
Soft-touch dash O S
Front door padded armrest S S
Metal-paint interior trim S S
Metal pedals S

Performance

2013 Kia Rio Sedan High Resolution Exterior
- image 511513

For the 2013 Rio sedan, Kia is throwing around the all-too risky phrase “class-leading” in describing its engine offerings. For the most part, there’s substance behind those proclamations because the Rio is one of only two vehicles in its segment to offer a GDI engine. Impressive, yeah?

As far as the powertrain is concerned, all three trims of the Rio - LX, EX, and SX - feature the same 1.6-liter gasoline direct-injection (GDI) four-cylinder that produces 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque, while mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or an efficient six-speed automatic transmission. Performance numbers seem to suggest that the Rio Sedan is capable of hitting 60 mph in about 9 seconds with a top speed of around 130 mph.

The car’s combination of power and fuel efficiency also shows itself in the fuel economy rating the car returns: 30 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.

Driveline Specifications

Engine Type 1.6L, inline 4-cylinder, aluminum block and head
Valvetrain DOHC, four valves/cylinder, Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT)
Displacement 1,591 cc
Compression Ratio 11.0:1
Horsepower (SAE NET) 138 hp @ 6,300 rpm
Torque 123 lb.-ft. @ 4,850 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual / Electronically controlled 6-speed automatic, overdrive (optional)

Estimated Fuel Economy

Manual Transmission (City/Highway) 29/37
Automatic Transmission (City/Highway) 28/36 (30/36 with ECO Package)
Fuel Tank Capacity (Gallons) 11.4

Safety

2013 Kia Rio Sedan High Resolution Exterior
- image 511514

Safety is always an important aspect of any vehicle. To its credit, Kia made sure that the 2013 Rio Sedan comes with serious toughness and sturdiness.

One distinct feature of the 2013 Rio is the Halo Body construction that was designed to help protect occupants in certain side impact and roll-over collisions. In addition, the full load of standard safety features is part of the Rio’s offerings, including: six airbags; side-impact door beams; height-adjustable front seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters; three-point seatbelts for all seating positions; and Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH).

Safety Features:

Trim Level LX EX SX
Dual front advanced airbags S S S
Dual front seat-mounted side airbags S S S
Full-length side curtain airbags S S S
Front and rear 3-point seat belts S S S
Front seat-belt pretensioners with force limiters S S S
Height-adjustable front seat-belt anchors S S S
4-wheel disc brakes S S S
4-wheel Anti-lock Brakes System (ABS) S S S
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) S S S
Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) S S S
Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) S S S
Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) S S S
Tire-Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) S S S
Side-impact door beams S S S
Front and rear crumple zones S S S
Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) S S S
Rear child-safety door locks S S S

Suspension

2013 Kia Rio Sedan Exterior
- image 511516

The 2013 Rio sedan’s suspension setup makes use of a uni-body frame that comes with an independent front suspension system made up of MacPherson struts, coil springs and a stabilizer bar. Meanwhile, the rear suspension of the sedan features a torsion beam axle suspension, allowing the drivers to seamlessly engage responsive handling and provide top-level comfort even in varying driving conditions.

Driving Impressions

2013 Kia Rio Sedan Exterior
- image 511515

The evolution of the subcompact sedan segment has become so fast these days it’s getting a little trickier to pick one that stands out from the rest. We’re not going to do that here with the Kia Rio, but given the surprisingly impressive ride-ability it had, it’s worth noting that the Rio has a good set of wheels on its head.

One of the first things you’ll likely notice is that the car’s engine is remarkably quiet compared to its competitors, allowing you to engage in sustained conversations without having to stretch your vocal chords.

The spacious cabin also makes it comfortable to drive, something that you can well appreciate with its 138-horsepower engine. In fact, the Rio has surprisingly good power delivery, too, making for a pretty lively subcompact sedan that does justice to its sporty new looks.

Pricing

2013 Kia Rio Sedan High Resolution Exterior
- image 511508

Pricing for the 2013 Kia Rio are as follows:

Model Description MSRP
Rio LX 1.6L GDI I4 - 6 M/T $13,600.00
Rio LX 1.6L GDI I4 - 6 A/T $14,700.00
Rio EX 1.6L GDI I4 - 6 A/T $16,500.00
Rio SX 1.6L GDI I4 - 6 A/T $17,700.00

Competition

The Kia Rio sedan has no shortage of competition. Two, in particular, come to mind: the 2014 Toyota Corolla and the 2013 Honda Civic.

2014 Toyota Corolla

2013 Honda Civic Sedan High Resolution Exterior
- image 507720

Then there’s the Honda Civic.

Despite its cache as an equally well-known model in the annals of the Corolla, the Civic has had quite a strange couple of years, no more evident that the quick refresh Honda gave it after its previous incarnation bombed spectacularly. To its credit, the refresh did serve its purpose, giving the 2013 Civic a more balanced look that the 2012 version absurdly lacked.

But where the Civic really has an edge is the variety Honda has for it. It’s available in a coupe, a hybrid, and a sedan version, something the Rio can’t say for itself. The sedan version comes with a base 1.8-liter with 140 horsepower while the hybrid features a 1.5-liter with 110 horsepower.

Finally, the 2013 Civic Si model leaps out of the page, thanks to its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that develops a tidy 201 horsepower. It’ll come with an extra cost - about $23,000 - but for the significantly more powerful offering, well worth the money, we say.

Conclusion

2013 Kia Rio Sedan High Resolution Exterior
- image 511509

Given the strength of the competition to go with a completely saturated market, the 2013 Kia Rio sedan has a lot to fight for. Fortunately, it has the kind of positives that will give it some serious interest from consumers.

Of the block, it looks better than most models with the Corolla’s front profile probably giving it the most trouble. Performance-wise, the close numbers by which the Rio’s output is compared to rivals makes it a wash.

Pricing, however, is where the Rio could have the leg up. Whereas the Corollas and the Civics are sitting comfortably in the higher teens, the Rio’s top-of-the-line price tag of $17,700 means that you can arguably get more bang for our buck with this model.

  • Leave it
    • * No performance variety
    • * Stiff competition
    • * A true entry-level compact sedan
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