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The exterior of a grey Kia Rio

Kia Rio review

Stylish, spacious and well equipped, the Kia Rio is a small car that’s easy to drive and delivers nippy performance. It also benefits from the brand’s excellent seven-year warranty.


  • Spacious and well equipped interior
  • Affordable to buy and run
  • Long warranty for peace of mind


  • Not as upmarket as some rivals
  • Older petrol engines are a bit dated
  • Design is functional rather than exciting


“Low cost to buy and affordable to run, the Kia Rio is a good all-round car.”

If you’re looking for an affordable small car that’s easy to drive, inexpensive to run and well equipped, then the Kia Rio is worth a look. It’s ideal if you do a lot of city or town driving and if you won’t be carrying many passengers on a regular basis.

It’s spacious inside and has a very large boot. It does have some hard interior plastics, but it’s all well put together. The older models will also still have some of Kia’s industry-leading seven year warranty.

What’s the interior like?

“For a small city car, it’s surprisingly roomy and the equipment levels are very high.”

Compared with its supermini rivals, the Kia Rio is surprisingly spacious. It also comes with more standard kit than most with air con as standard across the range.

The simply laid-out dashboard is easy to use, with handily placed switches and clear analogue instruments. Apart from the entry-level version, the Rio includes a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment screen that features clear graphics and is easy to use. Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel audio controls are standard features on all models.

The driver’s seat is highly adjustable so it’s easy to find a comfortable position. It can also accommodate adults reasonably well in the back seats. The boot is one of the biggest you can get in a small hatchback with a 325 litre capacity, so it will comfortably hold a couple of medium-sized suitcases. You can also fold the rear seats flat to increase the amount of space to a very useful 1,103 litres.

What’s it like to drive?

“Light controls make the Rio easy to drive.”

The Rio is composed and capable with light controls for an easy and stress-free drive, particularly around town. It’s pretty quiet on the motorway, while the suspension handles bumps well.
The turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine is a smooth performer, while the 1.4-litre diesel delivers strong economy. However, unless you plan to drive over 12,000 miles a year, the petrol engines will be your best bet.

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“All versions deliver strong fuel economy and should be low cost to run.”

Kia has always been big on offering value for money and the Rio is no different. The trims models are simply called 1, 2 and 3, with all models including air con and Bluetooth. The 2 is probably the best value thanks to its touchscreen infotainment and reversing camera.

Servicing costs are reasonable, with many Rio models still covered by Kia’s great value ‘Care’ maintenance packs which takes care of your servicing. Low insurance groupings also mean the Rio shouldn’t attract expensive annual premiums.

How reliable and safe is it?

“Kia has worked hard on durability and the Rio scores well here. Safety is strong, provided the car is fitted with the safety pack.”

Every year Kia’s reputation gets better, with the brand consistently finishing high up in customer satisfaction surveys. If there are faults, they tend to be minor electrical niggles.

The Rio picked up a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating in 2017, but this was only when fitted with an optional safety pack that added autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist. Without this kit, the car was awarded three stars, so it’s worth looking out for the feature.

Which one is best for you?

Best for economy - 1.4 CRDi

Best for families - 1.0 T-GDi 2

Best for fun - 1.0 T-GDi GT-Line

All versions of the Kia Rio are well equipped with useful features, but the 2 delivers the best mix of kit and price.
For all but high mileage drivers, the 1.0-litre petrol is a great option to go for. It’ll be nearly as efficient as the diesel most of the time.

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