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2018 Kia Rio EX 5-Door

1.6-liter DOHC inline-four (130 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm; 119 lb-ft @ four,850 rpm)

Six-speed automated, front-wheel drive

28 metropolis / 37 freeway / 32 mixed (EPA Score, MPG)

eight.5 metropolis / 6.four freeway / 7.6 mixed (NRCan Score, L/100km)

35.1 mpg [6.7 L/100 km] (Noticed)

Base Value: $15,095 (U.S) / $16,555 (Canada)

As Examined: $19,595 (U.S.) / $25,605 (Canada)

Costs embrace $895 vacation spot cost in the US and $1,660 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, due to cross-border gear variations, can’t be instantly in contrast.

Throughout a 12 months wherein Kia is about to drop a BMW three Sequence-rivalling sports activities sedan with a price ticket that rises above $50,000, it’s not laborious to see why the arrival of a brand new Kia subcompact hatchback goes comparatively unnoticed.

It’s not laborious to see why the arrival of any subcompact goes unnoticed. In the US, subcompact automotive gross sales are a pittance, forming simply 2 % of the market after dropping one-fifth of their collective quantity to date this 12 months. Kia’s entry, in the meantime, fills solely a slender hole in America’s subcompact area of interest, affected by a 51-percent year-over-year gross sales drop to solely 11,952 gross sales in 2017’s first 9 months, equal to only four % of the subcompact market.

That is nothing new. U.S. curiosity within the Kia Rio, valued at over 50,000 annual gross sales method again in 2002, perked up with the daybreak of the outgoing third-generation mannequin half a decade in the past however rapidly diminished. Kia USA averaged fewer than 30,000 annual Rio gross sales over the past three years.

However you may overlook the Stinger for a second, you may put aside the Ok900, ignore the Cadenza, and briefly dismiss the Sorento SX Restricted. That is the 2018 Kia Rio. Kia gained’t even allow you to spend greater than $20,000 on this subcompact hatch.2018 Kia Rio EX 5-Door - Image: © Timothy CainWord: Greater than regular, the check automotive we acquired (from Kia’s Canadian subsidiary) bore little gear similarities to the Kia Rio bought in the US. Whereas the underpinnings and powertrain are equivalent, there are quite a few key distinctions. This automotive, a Canadian 2018 Rio EX Tech, rides on 205/45R17 Continental ProContact rubber. The U.S. Rio tops out on 15-inch rims with decidedly much less aggressive 185/65R15 rubber. No matter trim, Kia’s Canadian Rio comes commonplace, even at CAD $16,555, with heated entrance seats and a heated steering wheel. These aren’t on Kia’s U.S. Rio choices menu. Neither is the UVO-integrated navigation system fitted to this EX Tech, or the sunroof on all three Kia Canada EX fashions. Within the U.S., the place the Rio has been a subcompact afterthought for a few years, Kia is positioning the 2018 Rio 5-Door completely as a price choice. In Canada, the place the Rio joined with its Hyundai Accent company cousin in claiming greater than 40 % subcompact market share in every of the final three years, Kia is keen to assault two ends of the subcompact spectrum.)2018 Kia Rio EX 5-Door - Image: © Timothy CainIt’s unclear simply how a lot distinction our tester’s wider and grippier tire quartet makes, nevertheless it’s secure to imagine America’s Rio provides a little bit of impression deadening in alternate for barely much less mid-corner chew. That’s to not say this 17-inch-shod Rio rode stiffly or suffered from poor pothole absorption. Whereas busy, as a subcompact 102-inch wheelbase and slender 60-inch tracks is wont to be, the brand new Rio will not be handled unkindly by the roughest of roads. Thank the newly inflexible construction: Kia says the brand new Rio’s platform is 30-percent extra inflexible than the 2017 mannequin’s. It feels extra like 60 %.

Stiff constructions are a boon for journey high quality, certain, but in addition for dealing with and normal NVH, as properly. The 2018 Rio gained’t quickly be confused for a sizzling hatch, nevertheless it places up no argument when tasked with ramping up the proceedings on a enjoyable highway. The steering isn’t precisely communicative, however effort builds up naturally and predictably. It’s matched by progressive brake really feel and an unobtrusive six-speed automated that doesn’t flub a shift. (A six-speed handbook is obtainable solely on the bottom mannequin, on which the automated is a $1,090 choice within the U.S.)

These are the sorts of small particulars that small Kias used to overlook, left to ply their commerce based mostly completely on the deserves of worth. However by nailing down these small issues — linear steering and correct brake response and clean shifts — that customers might not discover as individually improved components, a Kia Rio will discover it simpler to be taken severely as a cohesive package deal.2018 Kia Rio EX 5-Door interior - Image: © Timothy CainEven with modest general curb weight reductions, the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that’s commonplace throughout the Rio lineup may have performed with some updating. As a substitute, Kia lowered horsepower and torque (marginally) with a view to maximize energy at extra practical rpm. The issue? The 2018 Rio’s 130 horsepower don’t peak till 6,300 rpm, lengthy after you’ve grown weary of the unrefined engine be aware. It’s not a rev-happy powerplant, so that you’re anxious for the Rio to fulfill your calls for at decrease factors within the rev vary. Like lots of its opponents, it could actually’t, notably with out a handbook transmission. Ample the 1.6-liter could also be, nevertheless it causes the six-speed automated to hunt round for a gear, any gear, when climbing Prince Edward Island’s modest inclines. That is hardly the Rockies.

Maybe the ability ranges can be extra acceptable if Kia had discovered a solution to amplify gas financial system figures. This can be a key knock towards subcompacts — if they will’t present a significant low cost on the seller, absolutely they ought to have the ability to on the gas pump. However all too usually, they don’t. The 2018 Kia Rio is rated at 28 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 37 on the freeway, a mixed 32-mpg score. With 62 extra horsepower and 417 further kilos, the 2018 Honda Accord has higher metropolis, freeway, and mixed rankings together with midsize area. After all, these two automobiles aren’t opponents, however that’s simply it. Small automobiles ought to provide the smallest gas payments. We averaged 35 miles per gallon with the 2018 Rio throughout its rural keep in PEI.2018 Kia Rio EX 5-Door interior detail - Image: © Timothy CainInside, entrance seat consolation can be improved by extra lumbar assist. Whereas rear seat consolation is suitable, rear legroom is tight for adults. Knees should be implanted within the backs of entrance seat occupants. Seat fabric and up-front supplies actually appear forward of the subcompact recreation. It’s a contemporary affair that in no way embarrasses the Rio proprietor, with or with out a heavy characteristic load. Seats up, cargo quantity out again now stands at 17.four cubic toes, up by greater than two cubic toes in contrast with the 2017 mannequin. Sacrificing a few of that area for extra rear seat quantity might properly have been a wiser alternative, because the Rio (once more, like different subcompacts) nonetheless can’t actually compete with the Honda Match’s flexibility.

Given the value level and the best way the 2018 Rio, besides when accelerating or squeezing passengers within the again, feels so usually like a automotive in a greater value level, it’s troublesome to interpret its negatives as something apart from minor. It’s troublesome to not be impressed by the best way the Rio’s inside does a worthy job of replicating a way more pricey automotive.

The packaging does lend itself to comparisons with probably the most simply recommendable Kia, nevertheless. The 2018 Kia Soul has a $16,995 base value and is sort of properly outfitted in Soul+ trim with a small choices package deal at $21,595, two grand greater than the top-spec Rio. Higher resale worth, extra energy, comparable gas financial system, and far more inside area makes the Soul a winner very almost each time.

That’s not a lot a knock towards the 2018 Kia Rio as it’s a swipe towards subcompacts normally. It explains America’s distaste for the smallest automobiles, and it explains why the brand new Kia Rio stands little likelihood of being any extra profitable than the earlier Kia Rio. Irrespective of how good it’s.

[Images: © Timothy Cain]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Reality About Vehicles and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.web. Observe on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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