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Kia Rio



  • Hi all,

    I was driving by a local Kia dealership here in Orange County California and noticed they had the new 2006 Kia Rio so I stopped and took a look. It was a 2006 Rio LX sedan in white with no option packages. The fit and paint job was pretty good. It had good room in front and back. The engine compartment was very well done and very clean with not a lot of clutter (kudos to the engineers). If there was any downfall to the car it was the interior. I was really disappointed with it. It looked plain and the plastics looked cheap. The plastics had a matte finish but it was completely hard plastic (similiar to plastic on a model airplane). I was expecting more I guess since my girlfriend has a 2005 Spectra EX which I consider the interior materials to be at or near the top for economy cars. Anyway, maybe I am expecting to0 much. The MSRP was 13905 which I thought was quite high since it had no power package.

    Happy motoring.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    after six months, there will be the inevitable 1.9APR, $500 cashback, $1000 owner's loyalty, $500 "conquest" rebate, and a whole host of other incentives.

    You could probably get a second generation Rio in six months at or below dealer invoice.
  • When I took my 2004 Rio Cinco for service, I noticed they had recieved a shippment on Rios. After looking at them, I am going to keep my 2004 I like the styling better. But that's just me, I am sure they will sell a lot of the new ones too.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    I've noticed there isn't much markup on the new Rio, e.g. only $635 on the LX with no options. So even when the new Rio is available at invoice + rebates, it will still have a hard go against the likes of the Elantra GLS, which can be had with ABS/traction, A/C, power package, and automatic for about $13,500 (less with loyalty/grad/military rebates). That's for a more powerful car with more interior room--but not side curtains. So I agree the discounts and rebates will come in short order on the '06 Rio. I think it also means that we are in for a big price increase on the next-generation Elantra, assuming the Accent will be priced about the same as the Rio when comparably equipped.
  • According to the October '05 issue of Motor Trend magazine, in the 2006/'07 automobile reviews of what's to come for the new year, I noticed that according to them (MT) traction control is an option with the new RIO. I've checked everywhere for the real 4-1-1 and so far to no avail. Anyone know if this is true, or was it a misprint on their part? TC would be great, speaking for myself. I'd be the first in line to purchase a RIO5 SX with all the bells and whistles, so to speak.

    Do you think I could have a power sunroof installed on the SX through the dealer upon purchase?

    Many thanx. . .

    Peace! :shades: )
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    I stopped by my nearest Kia dealer today. They had no '06 Rios, but the salesman checked and said they had one arriving early next week. He also gave me a brochure. The interior looks nicer than I expected, based on the pics in the brochure.
  • Backy opined:

    I stopped by my nearest Kia dealer today. They had no '06 Rios, but the salesman checked and said they had one arriving early next week. He also gave me a brochure. The interior looks nicer than I expected, based on the pics in the brochure.

    I dropped by the dealer today (it's just around the corner from my home) and I was able to sit in the one Rio sedan they've got on the lot, and examine it in the daylight.

    The interior was the tu-tone beige/brown, and is styled fairly nice.

    However..... after sitting in the car for at least 10 minutes and checking out all of the knobs, panels, etc., I can honestly and objectively say that it is no contest between the Spectra and Rio as far as interior tactile experience goes. The Rio's dash and door panels are all *hard* plastic that feels and looks really cheap when compared to the Spectra's padded dash and door panels. I *still* can't get over the fact that KIA put a slender armrest on the driver's seat, but NOT the passenger's. This odd little omission really screams CHEAP!!!! in my book. Sorry KIA. I've been a big supporter of most of your efforts of late, but this kind of quirky cost-saving short-cut illustrates that you have a few lessons to be learned, esp. about American tastes. I almost think that it would be better for there to be no armrest (ala Cobalt and xB) instead of just one. I guess I'm just a symmetry anal-retentive. :-)

    The gauge cluster is smaller and cheaper looking, and the dash clock's a tiny little LCD (not LED) that's set back in and kind of hard to read. The glove box is nicely sized, much like the Spectra's.

    The rear seat and package tray is MUCH closer (i.e.: smaller interior) when you turn around from the drivers seat and look directly into the back. The same movement in the Spectra however has you looking into a much more cavernous opening. I did crawl into the back and with the driver's seat all the way back I was still able to squeeze in (I'm 6' and 225 lbs). I just had to splay my knees aside a bit. I'd rate it as comfortable enough for an adult to ride across a good sized metro-area, but no farther. The Spectra's rear area is a much nice place for a medium-to-large sized adult to travel.

    The doors have double seals (like the Spectra), so that bodes well for wind noise on the highway.

    The outside paint looked good and was unique. It's called Olive gray (or something like that). It was smooth and had a nice metalflake to it.

    The prop-rod on the hood was kind of surprise, in the fact that the rod's mounted to the hood and swings down to a hole in the fender. That's the first time I've ever seen something like that. It seemed to work just fine in any case.

    The engine compartment is roomy and looks very similar to the Spectra (the Rio's motor's a smaller 1.6L vs. the Spectra's 2.0L). There's an fibrous insulative matting on the firewall in the engine compartment, the first time I've ever seen something like that. The car started easily when I turned the key, and sounded okay for a little 4-cylinder when I revved it a couple of times.

    The Rio also has a cable-operated trunk release down on the floor by the fuel filler door release. A nice touch, in lieu of the lack of the power lock package.

    So..... based on the in-person review and the KBB.COM info below, I'd definitely have to stick with getting a Spectra, esp. as the even-better closing 2005 deals get presented.
    The extra $$ for the Spectra5 would probably be a good investment if your heart's set on a 5-door hatch. Sit in both cars for yourself, and I think you'll see the perceived quality differences I describe here.

    Now.... if the Rio5 with the power package can be had with incentives for $12,000 or under *out-the-door*, the $2,500-3,000 savings might just make a case for it. The gas I'm assuming the Rio5 will save also adds some weight to the "Pro" argument for the Rio.

    I'm still planning on test driving the Rio5 when one comes in, so I'll report back with that experience sometime in the near future.


    KBB.COM Comparison info:

    2006 KIA Rio5

    Power Package 535.00
    Floor Mats 54.00

    Total Dealer Invoice 14,749.00 (Includes above options)
    MSRP 15,560.00 (Includes destination)

    2005 KIA Spectra EX

    Total Dealer Invoice: 16,085.00 (all options BUT ABS)
    MSRP: 17,280.00 (W/O incentives, includes dest)
    15,530.00 (With current $1,750 incentive, includes dest)

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    Keep in mind the Rio starts just over $12k, and the Spectra is a few thousand over that. So there should be some difference in size and padding. But I agree it's hard to justify paying $15k for a Rio. $12k after discounts sounds about right.

    BTW, I recently sat in a $22k Mazda5 that also did not have an armrest for the front passenger, on the left. But it did have one for the driver. So it's not just Kia trying to save a few bucks here and there.
  • I actually preferred the ride of the Rio to the Spectra5. The Rio I would describe as nimble and agile, with decent road feel and nice isolation from undesireable harshness. Maybe I'm just too used to my old Aspire; the Rio strikes me as a more refined version of that basic ride. Even at the same price, I may seriously consider the Rio5 over the Spectra5. It may cost the same up front, but I'll be saving about $20 per month on the Rio in gasoline (according to EPA calculated costs).
  • SM,

    I totally agree with your assestment of the Rio. Kia made a mistake on using hard plastics on the interior of the Rio and it feels so cheap from going from the Spectra to the Rio. I hope Hyundai used better quality plastics on its interior for the Accent.

    Happpy motoring
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    FWIW, I drove the new Civic today ($17.1k for similar equipment to a $14k Rio LX) and it uses hard platics all over the interior too. But they have a matte finish. Is the issue with the plastics in the Rio's interior that they are too shiny?
  • We're talking about an entry-level compact here, not a Cadillac. It's a helluva lot nicer than previous versions of similar cars. When I drove the Rio I was concerned with basic functionality and overall impression. On that, it passes with flying colors. We all know the rebates and incentives will kick in and the car will be a very good bargain.

    When I bought my Aspire 10 years ago, a basic car with MT, a/c and no power anything (it wasn't even available on any model) had a sticker of about about $11k. The Rio is about the same price today and is a LOT nicer car.

    Quit yer belly-achin' already. :P
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    Who's "belly-achin'"?? I said I thought the interior of the Rio looked quite nice, at least in the pictures. And I also don't think the black trim looks "cheap" as someone mentioned, but gives the car a sporty, European flair--like the Saab 9-3 for example. (And black plastic side moldings don't get paint chips on them like painted moldings will.)
  • Actually the sheen of the plastic is fine with me. It has a flat sheen to it as I remember. Anyway, it was more of the feel and overall look. It doesn't have the soft touch like the Elantra and Spectra. As I remember the current Accent plastics look nicer. One of the things that really bugged me also was what SM mentioned - no center armrest between the seats.

    I am going to take a look at the new Civic. I would think since they are pushing the price higher in the new Civic that it plastics should be much better. I would expect it to be as good as Mazda 3.

    Happy motoring
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    It's kind of funny I think that and other reviews hit the Elantra for having an "outdated" interior, yet it has more soft-touch surfaces than just about any other low-buck compact today. All the automakers, including Honda, Mazda, Hyundai, Toyota, and Kia, are moving towards the cheaper, hard plastics. And I can't fault them for that. I mean, the only time I ever touch the dash is when I clean it, and then it's not like I'm pressing on it. The only time I do that is when I first test-drive a car, just to see if it has soft-touch plastic or not. :blush: I'd rather see them put the money into powertrains, safety equipment, and good seats than in soft-touch plastics. If the Rio's powertrain, ride, and handling are as good as I've heard so far, that makes it a contender for me.
  • Good discussion going on in here!

    I agree that the Rio appears to be plenty "good enough" for it's class. When you start looking at the other lower end cars like Aveos, etc. you can see that it's right in the hunt. It's a heck of a lot less goofy looking than the Aveo too! ;-)

    I guess my point is that KIA has spoiled us Spectra owners by giving us an attractive and functional $17k car for $13-14k. Since KIA has the Rio currently listing for a price very close to the the Spectra (or in some cases higher!), it just seems like the Spectra is the better deal UNLESS the incentive spiffs start flying on the Rio, OR the spiffs go away on the Spectra.

    As far as the plastics in the Rio go, it's the *lack* of a sheen that seems to jump out at me. The dash and door panel plastic has a very, very, flat finish. I agree with the folks on here saying that the dash doesn't need to be padded, BUT I know that *my* left elbow appreciates every bit of padding on the Spectra's driver's door armrest. The Rio's armrests are *completely* devoid of any padding whatsoever. My '83 Ford Escort (a long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away) even had padded drivers and passenger arm rests!

    But.... I digress. I am in total agreement that the amount of standard features in these newer small cars is pretty amazing. I just wish that KIA would put the icing on the cake and add a few additional comfort and convenience finishing touches to the Rio.

    And shame on Mazda for pulling the 1-armrest trick on the Mazda5. KIA might get away with it on a budget car like the Rio, but Mazda needs to make sure that they don't undermine the 'premium' image that they appear to be trying to cultivate on their other vehicles. I suspect that shortcuts like that are taken by Mazda in attempt to keep their Ford masters happy. Having spent 8 years in the contract IT trenches within Ford Motor, I have heard many laughable cost cutting stories from my superviors upon their return from the mind-numbing marathon meetings they would attend. (NOTE: I haven't been at Ford for 12 years, but I can only surmise that the same or worse situations occur today. My old contacts there said that I was very fortunate to have missed the "Ford 2000" musical chairs and infamous Jac Nasser "Sea of white faces" eras.)

    Keep the Rio dialogue going everyone, and be sure to post your actual drive experiences up here as they occur.

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    No padding on the armrests? That alone could be a deal-breaker for me. No, I'm not kidding! If you can't be comfortable driving your car, why bother? That's one of the things that sold me on the Elantra--nicely-padded armrests on both sides of the driver--and the multi-adjustable driver's seat, which it looks like the Rio also has.
  • Here's a pic of the new Rio's driver's armrest. I wanted to be sure I wasn't misleading anyone about the hard plastic armrest, and it sure looks like the picture backs me up!


    That sure looks like nuttin' but injection molded plastic to me!

    Once again, perhaps the design of the armrest and its placement will make the issue of padding moot. Time will tell....


    (Note: Sometimes the photo above will show up, and remote linking will be blocked by So I apologize if you're getting the "REMOTE LINKING FORBIDDEN" graphic. Try back later, or go to to see the graphic on KIA's website.)
  • As far as the plastics in the Rio go, it's the *lack* of a sheen that seems to jump out at me. The dash and door panel plastic has a very, very, flat finish. I agree with the folks on here saying that the dash doesn't need to be padded, BUT I know that *my* left elbow appreciates every bit of padding on the Spectra's driver's door armrest. The Rio's armrests are *completely* devoid of any padding whatsoever. My '83 Ford Escort (a long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away) even had padded drivers and passenger arm rests!

    It's the left side armrest on the door (not the center armrest) that people are complaining about with respect to padding. The door armrest isn't padded on the Suzuki Aerio SX, a car that has a lot of upscale features standard (including 6-disc changer in dash and a subwoofer). I thought that was odd and highly undesireable until I realized that my Ford Aspire didn't have any padding on the door armrest either. I guess I just don't spend a lot of time with my elbow on the armrest.
  • Who in the world actually uses an armrest...LOL I am to busy trying to steer and shift and I dont't have a third arm.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    Armrests are handy for long commutes/trips. I read a post today from a guy who drives an Elantra 170 miles each day to/from work. I think he would appreciate a good armrest.
  • I'm not a big MPG freak as some of you hybrid people but until I find out what fishy is going on with the manual MPG numbers, the car is off my list. I don't know who made the mistake either the EPA testing or KIA, but someone did. The manual MPG is listed as only 32/35 while the AT is 29/38. This is highly unusual since every other non-hybrid car manages better Highway economy. If they geared this car incorrectly to give a sporty feel, who are they kidding. I can drain all the energy I need from a small economical engine by shifting, be it a Scion or my current Tercel. I think it better be fixed one way or another soon, or it will put other people off. Fuel is reaching record prices and people are more economically minded these days. I know since cell phones people like AT's, but KIA if your interested in a fun little economical compact, the RIO is a little short compared to the ugly ECO, Scion XA, the coming Fit, or even the bland Corolla. Small cars should be fun but clearly more efficient than the heavier boys.
  • In real-world operation, manual cars never get mileage as good as a comparable automatic. The manual's mechanical efficiency advantage is always lost because drivers never shift optimally for efficiency. Engines are invariably over-revved, either through ignorance or the pursuit of aural pleasure. A properly sorted automatic is always in the correct gear, never makes a mistake, and demands infinitely less attention from the driver.

    Never say never. Prior to selling my Ford Aspire this weekend, I had gotten into the habit of "short shifting" it, never allowing the engine to get louder than a muted growl (this is a 1.3L w/ 63 hp, mind you). Around town, this generally meant being in 5th gear by 25-30 mph (any slower and it would buck). When merging on the freeway, I used the same shift pattern except that I would leave it in fourth gear for that little big of acceleration needed at the end of the on-ramp. This car had nearly 120k miles and was almost all original (timing belt, plugs, wires and clutch replaced as normal maintenance), and I consistently got mid-30s mileage. If, on occasion, I did get exuberant, I could see the difference in mileage; I would only get low 30s.

    Granted, technology has advanced in the 10 years since the Aspire was built, but I think anyone who thinks ATs provided optimum mileage for all drivers is kidding himself. Just look at the Suzuki boards and you can see where all the computer control gets you; the Forenza/Reno only have 126 hp and can still barely manage 30 mpg on the highway, and low 20s or even high teens around town. Never trust a computer chip to be smarter than a discerning human mind; they're only as smart as the programmer.
  • NOTE: At the request of the moderator, the copyrighted content of this post has been shortened.....


    I think that the following exerpted articles says it all from KIA's
    perspective. I just think that they're following current trends and
    technology, and as you suggest, they are gearing (pun intended) their manuals
    towards the "having fun" crowd.

    And don't get me wrong... I don't have an axe to grind against manuals.
    My 5-speed 5.0 Mustang in the garage is proof of that! I just think
    that for the average daily commuter, the points below are valid. I also
    saw several mentions of increased driving safety with automatics due to
    people having 2 less things to distract them while they're trying to eat
    their breakfast and talk on their cell phones while also attempting to


    Killing the stick-shift dinosaur

    Stick shift saves gas!

    Sure, if you drive the way they do in gas mileage tests. Now, let's be
    really honest with ourselves here. Do you drive that way in real life?
    If you wanted to drive like your grandmother, you'd have gotten the
    automatic to begin with. The way people drive in the real world, stick
    shift saves you nary a drop. In fact, you may actually be getting worse
    mileage than you would have with the car doing the shifts for you.

    With the advent of computer chips, automatics are much better at timing
    those shifts than they used to be, says Kwapich, Just as with a manual
    shift, if you don't drive like a fuel-hogging freak your transmission
    won't either.

    ... and then there's this excerpt of an article on another forum:

    Stick shift sticklers often defend their archaic rituals by arguing
    that manual transmissions are more fuel-efficient. Not so. While EPA
    numbers occasionally favor manual versions of a particular car, the
    comparison is skewed by the testing process, differences in gear ratios, engine
    tuning and vehicle option content. In real-world operation, manual cars
    never get mileage as good as a comparable automatic. The manual's
    mechanical efficiency advantage is always lost because drivers never shift
    optimally for efficiency. Engines are invariably over-revved, either
    through ignorance or the pursuit of aural pleasure. A properly sorted
    automatic is always in the correct gear, never makes a mistake, and demands
    infinitely less attention from the driver.
  • Your right in the real world MT may get less MPG, but the numbers listed from the EPA are the result of a test with grandma like shifting. Since that is the only test were comparisons between powertrains can be made, I find it odd that Toyota, Honda, Ford, etc. all have small cars with a higher MPG for the MT over the AT. If real-world driving was at play every other brand would have numbers that look like that, but they don't. This suggest Kia is trying something a lil sneaky and I don't like that. Maybe they figure its a new angle, since the MT will still outperform the AT in MPG in overall driving anyway, due to its constant searching for gears in the city. So if you make it more fun and has a good average MPG it doesn't matter. This suggests the gearing doesn't allow for grandma driving and better MPG numbers, and thats the real benefit of the MT choice and control. If I wanna burn fuel I can always downshift! I still like the look of the new Rio and hope to drive one soon.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    There is nothing "sneaky" in what Kia has done with the Rio's EPA mpg numbers. Remember that these are the EPA's tests, not Kia's. Also, this same thing happens on other cars. For example, the fuel economy of the Honda Civic and Toyota Camry is better on the highway with the automatic than with the stick shift. I think this phenomenon will become more prevalent as automatics become more refined and efficient (Civic and Camry use 5-speed automatics). And the automatics have the advantage that their final gear is usually taller (resulting in fewer engine revs per mile) than on the stick shifts.
  • I peeked under a 2006 Rio today and spotted a "semi-independent" torsion beam axle in the back instead of the Spectra's more sophisticated multi-link. The semi-independent descriptor comes from the twist or flexing of the torsion beam when one wheel hits a bump or hole. The flexing allows the other tire to somewhat better hold it's grip on the road.

    I found this comment about multi-link suspensions (like the Spectra's) on the web:

    "Multi-link suspension:

    Car manufacturers claim that this system gives even better road-holding properties, because all the various joints make the suspension almost infinitely adjustable."

    Multi-link pic (left side):

    The same article says this about the torsion beam rear axles:

    "Torsion Beam suspension:
    "These beam types are currently very popular because of their simplicity and low cost."

    Torsion Beam pic:

    Future buyers of the Rio... be sure you get a *great* deal on any 2006 you buy, and don't forget to check out what kind of deal you can a Spectra or Spectra5 on the lot!

    I'm *really* interested in seeing someone posting on here their purchase price info on the first wave of 2006 Rios purchases.

  • Of course the Spectra is going to be better than the Rio. It's the next step up in the Kia line up for crying out loud! There is nothing really wrong with the Rio. I have had 2 (2002 and 2004). Yes it may have hard plastic in the interior, but it has never bothered me. As far as the armrests go, I never put my arm on one anyway.
  • Chuck:

    I like the Rio too... that's why I've taken such an interest in it.

    The purpose of my posts isn't to decry it as much as point out what I consider the major differences between it and the "next step" Spectra, which I happen to already own and have experience with.

    For the uninformed who visit these forums, several of the things I have pointed out will not be immediately noticeable upon taking a short cursory test drive. The fact that the features I've discussed are not initially perceivable doesn't mean that they aren't there or that they aren't important.

    -4-wheel disc brakes vs disc/drums,
    -Multi-link rear suspension vs. flex torsion-beam
    -Roomier and higher quality interior materials (seats, dash, door panels, etc.) vs. smaller and lesser quality hard-plastic surfaced interior
    -Larger, name brand rubber (tires) vs. smaller, Korean (i.e. harder to replace in cases of defects) rubber

    ... these are the types of things that are noteworthy when comparing two vehicles IF their price tags are anywhere in the same neighborhood of each other.

    I'm simply trying to let people know that if they're considering a 2006 Rio, then they need to make sure that they are getting it at a price considerably under what they can negotiate for a Spectra, because the Spectra is going to be the more enjoyable car long term, gas mileage not withstanding. The Rio will win hands down in that category.

    Gas mileage coupled with my hope that the Rio5 will be TMV priced at $11,000 (or below) is what has piqued my interest in the Rio5.

    I will probably wait until the crash ratings come out before I commit. I suspect that those and the incentive rebates will happen along about the same time (though the two items are completely unrelated).

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