The story behind the new Kia Rio5 is to offer a lot for a little.
But unlike past cases where Kia relied purely on price to attract customers, the 2012 Rio5 relies on value.
Current Kias are as well or better built than anything in the class and the company warrants that for five years or 100,000 km.
They are no longer the least expensive vehicles on the market, but instead, allow customers to drive an affordable vehicle that does not feel cheap.
Even the least expensive $14,095 Rio5 LX comes with power windows and locks, heated mirrors, height adjustable driver’s seat, tilt wheel and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with satellite radio and USB and Aux inputs with controls on the steering wheel.
It also throws in a variable intermittent rear wiper, ABS and electronic stability control and rides on decent-sized 15-inch rubber. That’s for the cheapest Rio5 on the lot.
The sweet spot is the step up to the Rio5 LX plus which adds $1,500 to the tag but brings air conditioning, wireless connectivity, heated seats, remote keyless entry, and cruise control.
The test vehicle was in $16,695 EX trim. It boasted, in addition to the above 16-inch alloy wheels, two additional speakers, upgraded trim, power folding mirrors, power sunroof and a tilt and telescope steering wheel.
All new Rio5s come with a six-speed manual transmission. Ours had the $1,300 optional six-speed automatic. Many competitors are still using five-speed automatics and some only four-speeds.
This is a totally new replacement for an existing model, with a stylish new body on a new platform, powered by a new engine coupled to a new transmission. Nothing was held back.
Other than the price there is nothing entry-level about the 2012 Rio5. In addition to all the content mentioned above it has a thoroughly modern new “Gamma” 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with twin camshafts, direct injection, electronic throttle control and variable valve timing.
It produces 138 horsepower and sips fuel – Transport Canada says 4.9/100 highway and 6.6 city) on regular fuel. You might actually approach these numbers in real world driving in an automatic-equipped model.
To the left of the steering wheel is a button marked ECO. In that mode the engine management system softens throttle inputs and adjusts shift points. With a light foot and level terrain you can expect to use up to five per cent less fuel.
The system automatically reverts to normal when passing, climbing grades or other situations where full power is necessary use.
The engine has a gritty sound at idle. typical of direct injection engines where fuel is being introduced into the combustion chamber at around 2,000 psi, but is smooth and pulls relentlessly to redline providing more than ample motivation thanks to the light weight of this new platform and body.
The automatic shifts effortlessly and all but invisibly. We have also sampled the manual and have no qualms in recommending it for those who like to row their own gears and save a few bucks.
But you won’t get better fuel economy; the new six-speed automatic is equally thrifty. The Rio5 is no sports car but acquits itself well when pushed in the turns. There is plenty of understeer as you push but the ride quality is pretty good for such a small, light vehicle.
The new Rio5 was designed in Kia’s California studios under the watchful eye of noted designer Peter Schreyer. From the signature grill to the LED taillights, this is a distinct and modern design.
The team paid equal attention to the interior. A triple-cylinder gauge cluster has the speedometer in the middle, flanked by the tachometer and fuel gauge.
The audio system sits atop the HVAC controls in the center stack, both with big round knobs and easy-to-read graphics. There are plenty of storage bins and a sliding, padded armrest.
Soft-touch materials, pleasant textures and excellent fit belie the fact you are in an inexpensive car. The new Rio5 is longer, lower and wider than the old model and has 22-mm more headroom up front and 15-mm more in the rear as well as 40-mm more legroom in front.
Kia is now ready and willing to take on all comers in the volume segments from the Rio5 up to the turbocharged or hybrid Optimas on the car side and the funky Soul to the Sorento on the CUV/SUV side.
It has a raft of product, all of which is less than four years old and plenty more on the way. It has eye-catching designs, proven quality and liability and a host of technologies to match anyone out there.
Karp Kia www.karpkia.com is a division of Karp Automotive (www.karpauto.com), a family owned and operated dealership since 1957 located in Nassau County on the South Shore of Long Island in Rockville Centre, NY between Baldwin and Lynbrook, handling all Volvo, Buick, Saab, and Kia needs. Since its inception, Karp Automotive has made a commitment to upholding its core values of integrity and honesty. Karp is an active member of the community sponsoring many local outreach programs, community service projects, and community development initiatives. This has made Karp Automotive widely regarded as “the Auto Authority” and providing a superior ownership experience. As our customers would attest, there are many places a person can purchase a vehicle, but only here will you be treated like family by family.
December 29, 2011 – 4:36am Richard Russell | You Auto Know