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Behind the Wheel of a 2018 Kia Rio EX

$18,700 (Price as tested) | 4-cylinder, 130 hp | 29/37 mpg

(Photo: ©2014 Kia Motors America, Inc.)

The all-new Kia Rio comes in both a four-door sedan and hatchback. There are three trim levels, the LX, EX and S. All models are powered by the same 130-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. Manual and automatic transmissions are available in all trims.

I drove the EX hatchback version with an automatic transmission. These days, with minivans developing nearly 300 horsepower, the Kia Rio’s 130 horses may sound underwhelming but the vehicle actually performs quite well.

On city streets, the Rio does its job. On the highway, it does a nice job of isolating its passengers from the world around them – for an economy car, the Rio is reasonably quiet. The seats are comfortable, supportive and even with somewhat thin padding remain comfortable for several hours’ worth of driving. At 6 feet tall, I had plenty of head and legroom in this subcompact car.

The controls are straightforward and simple to use with large buttons, knobs and a simple touch screen. Our test car had Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which allowed me to use my phone seamlessly as a music player and navigation system. The rear seat has seatbelts for three but, in my opinion, it’s only comfortable for two, and for a limited amount of time.

The rear seat-backs can be folded independently so longer items can be carried along with one rear-seat passenger. With the rear seat folded, cargo storage is pretty good for a small car and even with all the seats in use, there is still nearly 14 cubic feet of cargo space.

Fuel economy is also competitive for its category of vehicle, with the EPA rating the Rio at 29 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Using the onboard trip computer, I averaged 35.5 mpg.

In the end, the Kia Rio stacks up well against the subcompact competition, including the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta. Add in Kia’s impressive warranty and overall price and the Rio is a car to consider.

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