I purchased a 2009 Kia Rio new in November 2008, and at the time of this writing, have owned it for 18 months. The 2009 Rio is pretty much the same vehicle as the 2006 through 2010 models.
Overall I like this car a lot. It has its positives and negatives, but as far as what’s important to me, it’s a great vehicle. However, it is not the car for everyone. I’ve compiled the two lists below to help you decide if it’s the right car for you.
The five best things about the Kia Rio
1. Inexpensive to buy and drive: You can get into a brand new Kia Rio for little down, and just over $200 per month. That’s less than just about everything else on the market. It’s also cheap to insure – insure.com lists it as the fifth least expensive option, with an average premium of U.S.$870 per year. It also gets great mileage, saving you cash at the pump.
2. Great Warranty: The Rio comes with a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and a 5 year/60,000 basic warranty. That should be enough for you to get the car paid off before you have to worry too much about major repairs.
3. Awesome gas mileage: Kia advertises 28mpg city and 34mpg highway, but I always beat that. With gentle starts and stops, and staying within the speed limit, I usually average 36mpg, and on one trip I got 41mpg.
4. Comfortable and sporty: Despite its small size, the Rio is comfortable even for a big guy like me. It’s fun to drive too, with decent handling and enough pep to get you out of harm’s way when you need to.
5. Looks better than other cars in its class: The Kia Rio looks good. It’s small, yes, but it has classy lines and shine. People usually assume I paid more for it than I did. In my opinion, it definitely looks like a more expensive car than the Toyota Yaris, Chevy Aveo, and Nissan Versa.
The five worst things about the Kia Rio
1. Mediocre safety ratings: According to U.S. News and World Report, the Rio does well in government crash tests for front end crashes, but not as well for side and rear impact crashes. In fact, the insurance industry rated it one star out of four, the lowest possible for 2009 models.
2. Noisy: When you’re zipping along the freeway at seventy miles per hour, the Rio is a little noisy. The rpms run a little high, so people who aren’t used to it think something’s wrong, or that you need to shift to a higher gear.
3. Some cheap materials used: The floor mat in my Rio wore through quite quickly right where my heel rests when using the accelerator. Nothing else has worn out or broken, but some items, such as the emergency brake handle, just feel cheap.
4. Prone to wind: If you’re trying to pass a semi in this car, it’s actually a little scary. The Kia Rio is light enough to be pushed by wind, so you have to consciously keep control of the vehicle.
5. Resale value: If you’re planning on selling your new car in just a few years, the Kia Rio will not have the same resale value as the Toyota Yaris or Honda Fit.