The Kia Rio is among the better subcompacts, but it’s still basic transportation. It suffers from deficiencies endemic to this class, such as slow acceleration, a stiff ride, and a loud cabin.
The 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine gets the job done, but isn't notable in any way. The Rio can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just under 10 seconds, which makes it (like the similar Hyundai Accent) one of the quicker subcompacts. But drivers really need to step on the gas pedal to climb hills and to merge onto highways. At that point the engine gets buzzy and sounds coarse.
The Rio returned 33 mpg overall in our testing, which is good but no better than most compact sedans, such as the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3.