2013 Kia Rio SX Long-Term Update 6
“Definitely the Korean Car”
“Definitely the Korean car.” So said Mike Finnegan of “Hot Rod” when I asked him what would upset his boss David Freiburger the most: a Toyota Corolla or a Kia Rio. I’m lucky he said Korean car, because we happened to have Benson Kong’s shiny red Kia Rio in our long-term fleet. When he saw it, Freiburger decreed, “Rental car.”
Carlos Lago and I had been asked to come on down and help Freiburger and Finnegan shoot a special episode of their hit YouTube show, “Roadkill.” The idea was that Carlos and I would judge all of the various piles of rust that “Roadkill” had built and accumulated over the years, including the 1973 Chevy ramp truck, the Gremlin, the Alaskan Raunchero, and the 700-hp, LS7-powered Crusher Camaro. We were supposed to predict how quickly each car could get around an autocross course. But the guys weren’t expecting the Rio.
With Finnegan at the wheel, the Kia Rio put down a 1:01.46 lap. He may have jumped the start, cut a few corners, and failed to stop in the stop box, but we decided early on that the only rule would be that the car had to finish the lap, even if it meant getting out and pushing. Otherwise, we’d burn too much daylight arguing about how much time to deduct instead of driving cars. Remarkably, only two of the Roadkill fleet were too broken to even start: the drag-special Super Bee and a particularly terrible-looking Datsun 240Z with a Chevy 4.3-liter V-6 swapped into it.
The episode quickly morphed into, “But is it faster than a Kia?” The comedy -- or at least part of the comedy -- came from the fact that most of the time the answer was a resounding “Nope!” Now, using Internet logic, it would seem that since every single car had a V-8 and RWD (save the AMC Gremlin that only had a straight-six), the Kia would be DOA. Funny thing about reality.
Exactly two cars were able to set a faster lap than the 1.6-liter, 138-hp, FWD Rio. One was Finnegan’s wife’s Chevy El Camino, which sported a 6.2-liter small-block and some pretty serious wheels and tires. But after its only lap the El Camino experienced total brake failure and Finnegan had to throw it in park to stop it. Ouch. The other car that beat the Kia was the 700-hp LS7-engined Crusher Camaro. It beat the Korean by a resounding 1 second. Go Kia.
Upon hearing the little Rio would be taking part in a “Roadkill” video shoot, I envisioned the poor thing coming back missing a side mirror. Or a wheel. But it returned no worse for wear. The autocross was the first serious driving action the Rio has seen since we threw on a set of Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season tires to replace the worn OEM Hankooks. The Goodyear fronts couldn’t have worn more flawlessly, resisting rolling onto the sidewalls and using all of the available outer shoulders. More impressively, the brake pedal and brakes are still there. The stoppers haven’t needed any attention in the 30,000-plus miles we’ve been caring for the Kia. --Benson Kong