The last Kia Rio sucked. Fortunately, this one doesn't. All new last year, the 2014 Kia Rio destroys the idea that a Korean subcompact has to be a crappy, dowdy econobox. Kia's littlest car shares its underpinnings and its 138-hp engine with the Hyundai Accent. While the Accent might look a bit more distinct, the Rio looks far more expensive—but it's not. The most basic 2014 Kia Rio sedan is actually $940 less than a base Accent sedan. Like the Accent, the Rio is available in two body styles: four-door sedan and four-door hatchback. We prefer the muscular look of the Rio hatchback, but both are bodies are attractive. Kia makes huge improvements in every new car it brings out, and the 2014 Kia Rio is just one more model that the automaker can be proud of.
Kia is turning into a stylish automaker because of Peter Schreyer, one of Kia Motors Corporation's presidents and the company's former chief design officer. He has pumped up the downtrodden brand and has created an extremely attractive lineup of good cars. Even Kia's cheapest and most modest offering, the Rio, is a striking automobile.
The 2014 Kia Rio sedan and hatchback are available in three trim levels: LX, EX, and SX. The LX is a bottom-tier, steel-wheels model. Moving up to the EX gets you power door locks, Bluetooth, cruise control, an armrest between the front seats, a tilting-and-telescoping steering column, and premium cloth buckets. The SX trim gets seventeen-inch aluminum wheels, foglamps, power-folding exterior mirrors, and, unique to the hatch, projector headlights.
Each 2014 Kia Rio gets a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that's bolted to either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. Although the manual transmission is usually reserved for the base LX model, Kia did a limited run of 500 SX models with a clutch pedal for 2013 to commemorate the Rio's first year in B-spec racing, an entry-level form of motor racing. If you want to spend your weekends at the track, buy a Rio hatchback and a $14,000 racing package from Kia's motorsports partner, Kinetic Motorsports. It comes with stuff like a precut roll cage, lightweight wheels, and race-ready dampers and tires. Kinetic will put it all together at their shop in Georgia for an additional fee. It will, however, completely void the Rio's excellent ten-year, 100,000-mile warranty, so think hard before taking this subcompact racing.
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