The all-new fourth-generation Kia Rio sedan and five-door were unveiled at the New York Auto Show, now with more room inside, more technologies and more safety features.
Remaining virtually the same size as before, only growing about a half-inch in length, the Kia Rio which competes against cars like Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa and others is all-new from the ground up in design.
While every inch of sheet-metal is fresh, Kia took a very conservative approach to penning the 2018 Rio sedan and five-door such that you might not even notice the difference from across the parking lot. What we have here in a nutshell is more of the Kia family resemblance in a more businesslike package than before.
Up front is the newest rendition of Kia’s ‘tiger-nose’ grille along with a new look to its eyes and lower chin. The windshield is steeper now giving it a more upright appearance and with its fractional increases in length make it look slightly bulkier than before though it is lower to the ground.
Overhangs both front and rear are shorter with its 15-inch wheels pushed further to outward the corners visually as most new car designs seem to do. As before wheel designs start with steel and wheel covers to aluminum alloys on upper trim grades.
If you have spent time in the current Kia Rio, the interior is really where you will see the biggest change in the game. It’s now designed with a lot more appeal visually and starts with higher quality materials even on base trim, and on the higher end you see here the bar is raised an extra rung with rich colors and textures. There’s more space in here afforded by its longer wheelbase and extended greenhouse silhouette too.
That space has been put to good use with a center console with a bi-level tray to handle all your devices including even a small tablet, let alone a large phone. While base trims still come with simpler infotainment systems, you can option the latest generation of UVO touchscreen audio with full functionality for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – not something everyone in class offers yet.
Power for 2018 comes from the same 1.6 liter Gamma four-cylinder direct-injected engine which produces 130 horsepower. You can get it with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. We haven’t yet been given specifications on whether mpg ratings will increase or remain the same.
In the area of handling, suspension has been fully massaged with new geometry and tuning which Kia says makes for better agility and a sporty feel. This is likely true but every auto manufacturer says that about new models. The layout remains pretty basic however with MacPherson struts at the front and simple torsion beam rear axle.
Of note though, Kia says with its all-new body structure and new available safety systems, the 2018 Rio is expected to earn a Top Safety Pick designation from the IIHS when it’s tested. If this comes to pass, it will be yet one more plus in the Rio’s corner compared to many of its peers.
The 2018 Kia Rio arrives in dealer showrooms later this year with pricing and final specifications due closer to that time.