2006 Kia Rio Sedan and Hatchback
For nearly the same money you can get the new Honda Civic with more power more economy and better resale. So why buy the Kia? The answer is the warranty and the fact the Kia pricing is very much a haggling price proposition and the Honda Civic is much in demand.
We tested the Hyundai LX and the station wagon or Rio5 model with a base prices about $14000 with an automatic transmission. We always question buying an automatic vehicle when price and fuel economy are the two main reasons for buying a small car but nevertheless it has a good power train and could handle the four speed automatic. We got just under 28 mpg in mixed driving far less than the 29/38 government rating The manual transmission might yield another mile or two per gallon in town and is the most fun to explore with but if you drive mainly in town the automatic is the easiest way to go and you get better mileage on the highways.
Moms view: What a surprise. This Kia rides very well and only an intense oversteer problem at low speed marred an exceptional performance. I was impressed. It is a better ride that the Scions offer but not nearly as good on rough pavement. The Kia would be a good commuter car. Inside there is good space for the front passengers but as you would expect from a small sedan backseat denizens need to be on the short side.
As a mother I always worry about having my family drive in a compact car considering how many cell phone distracted drivers of dangerous large SUVs are out there. In that regard the Kia is quite remarkable with six standard air bags covering passengers front and rear. The front bags deploy with variable force based the severity of the collision. There is also a cage around the passenger compartment and front and rear crumple zones. Always opt for the four-wheel antilock disc brakes.
Overall I was impressed with the quality the improvement over previous models and the usability of the Rios. I would have liked a more modern interior look more poke under the hood and another gear in the transmission.
Dads view: Handy is what these Kias are about. The dual overhead cam 16-valve inline 4-cylinder has variable valve timing and provides 110 horsepower when pushed to 6000 rpm. The ride is compliant the road noise noticeable and the steering is quite good. Brakes are a bit soft but considering the price acceptable. The hatchbacks seats are comfortable but rear seat legroom is tight. The cargo area in both the sedan and hatchback are limited but when you fold down the rear seats there is plenty of room. You just have to leave the kids at the store for a while. Hey whats an iPod for!
Although the Kia only has 110 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 107 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm from its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine it does remarkably well. You can get up to speed quickly and except when a full family onboard there is adequate passing power. The automatic transmission is exceptional and the 2450-pound Rio5 uses its continuously-variable valve timing to keep you entertained as well as does any other car in this price bracket.
Handling is quite exceptional and the more rigid chassis makes for a smoother quieter and quicker ride. Indeed the Rio has an abundance of sound deadening measures and triple sealed windows. The suspension is the classic front MacPherson struts and a torsion beam rear axle. The Rios didnt mind being tossed around but there was enough body lean to remind you that this is a fairly tall and narrow car.
Young working womans view: No place for even a small clutch bag and though the interior has a variety of small storage areas and three cupholders there isnt any console storage. The room in the glove box is limited to appropriately gloves. It is easy to get in and out with wide opening doors. Adjustable in all directions are a nice touch and you can reach all the control with ease. It seems like Kia went out of its way to create a vehicle with a subdued style inside and out which may be a mistake. These vehicles appeal to young people and we want to show off the interior doodads to our peers. The Civic has a love it or hate it instrumentation that invites conversation.
I found the Kias nice looking vehicles although I liked the Rio5 version much better with its useful hatchback and understated Euro looks. The sides have some parking lot protection bars and there is a determined effort to keep quality standards credible for the price. Inside the cabin has a nice feel with a synthetic cloth that should be easy to clean. The steering wheel adjusts and the front bucket seats offer enough support considering the power of the Rio. It is interesting to note that there are even slots in the sun visors for storing parking stubs and the like.
Young male college students view: I think my employer is finally going to pay me for my work at the restaurant after two months of promises and living off of tips so I might be able to afford one of these. For me the problem would be whether to buy this new Rio or a used vehicle from another manufacture. That would be a tough choice for me but the warranty and the fuel mileage make it worth a look. The stereo is barely average two people in the backseats are plenty and the cargo bay is filled with five bags of groceries or one English Mastiff puppy. Easy to park goes over 300 miles on ten gallons of gas is inexpensive to insure and doesnt mind getting dirty. Humm. $1500 down $200 a month and in five years this could be mine. Better yet I just might have a few months left on the warranty. Just in case check out my cd at www.simple-thoughts.net.
Family conference: This is the best small Kia and the most fundamentally sound and fun. The new model has an increase of 3.5 inches in its wheelbase and provides 1.6 inches of badly needed ear legroom. The engine is much stronger than it looks on paper. The warranty coverage of 5-years/60000-mi. basic 10/100000 power train and 5/60000 roadside assistance is a reassuring presence. We strongly recommend you drive this car the Toyota Scion and the new Honda Civic before making up your mind but beware that options on the competition make them more expensive in the short term. For a full range of vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com and click on business.
Written by the Car Family