2013 Kia Rio SX Long-Term Update 3
Differences in Opinion
One of the more charming aspects of being a Motor Trend Garage chaperone -- more charming than instinctively knowing exactly where the vehicle's driver's seat should be set, or being reminded by coworkers that an oil change or annual registration is overdue -- is hearing different staffers' opinions about your chaperoned ride.
I get earfuls about the Kia Rio. The ride, handling, and steering buffs on the MT staff are consistently disappointed. They'd love more feedback when the steering wheel is yanked off-center. The ride quality degrades considerably over rough roads, sending bangs and shudders into the cabin as the suspension tries to cope with sudden, sharp depressions and blotchy, rutted-out surfaces. The bump stops feel rock-hard. Though this could be true for any car out there, the Rio especially would benefit from additional suspension travel. Drive it on a nice, smooth road, though, and everything is A-OK.
Then there's the wised-up, "been there, done that" bunch of hooligans who've taken a big step back after trying Kia's littlest hatchback. They're smitten. Why? Because for an as-equipped $18,794, the Rio SX brings with it a 7-inch touch screen with attractive navigation software you can use in motion, a backup camera, and a cavernous cabin that belies its subcompact exterior dimensions. There's ample legroom in the front and back seats, and the rear middle hump barely makes its presence known to free up a nearly flat floor. But most critically, you can drive it somewhat energetically without getting into trouble because (A) nobody's going to think this small, friendly-looking hatchback is misbehaving, (B) there are many other red vehicles in Southern California, and (C) 138 hp at 6300 rpm (200 rpm short of redline) only gets you so far.
There are also the younger staffers who have all but written off the Rio's existence from the weekly sign-out sheet, citing debilitations such as lack of power (see point C above), a less-than-thrilling manual shifter (the Rio doesn't have a strong mechanical sense of the "gates" suctioning the shifter into position, but it's precise enough), and because it's basic transportation (yes, it is).
We've shelled out $126 for scheduled maintenance so far and the dealership hasn't hit us with a single exciting surprise. Nothing's fallen off the car or showed signs of premature wear or exploded for our update pleasure, not even the dubious "fuel system and throttle body cleaning" pitched by a service advisor. The factory Hankook Optimo H426s are running at about 6/32" of remaining tread depth, but I'm sure less aggressive drivers will have tires in better condition at a similar mileage. Our H426s' shoulders have flattened quite a bit, possibly from all the opportunistic cornering.
I do wish the air conditioning were a little more powerful, as it takes a while to cool the interior on extra-warm days. Then again, I only notice because I like my air super-chilled, and the A/C hardly ever gets turned off.
|Service life||11mo/26,621 mi|
|Average fuel economy||34.4 mpg|
|CO2 emissions||0.56 lb/mi|
|Energy consumption||98 kW-hr/100mi|
|Maintenance cost||$125.74 (3-oil change, inspection; 2-tire rotation; 1-cabin-air filter)|