2009 Kia Rio Review


Looking for a Used Rio in your area?

CarGurus has 6,768 nationwide Rio listings starting at $2,803.


Not sure what you want?

Find the models that are right for you using the CarGurus Car Finder.



15 national listings
Avg. Price: $7,601
Rio5 LX
Avg. Price: $8,108
Rio5 SX
Avg. Price: $7,259
Avg. Price: $7,589

Kia Rio Experts

#1 Tom Demyan
Tom Demyan
Reputation 300
#2 Francis Lapointe
Francis Lapointe
Reputation 190
#3 tenspeed
Reputation 180
View All

Average User Score

4.55 stars

Based on 2 reviews

Very Likeable by esther178
 — excellent gas mileage and handles like a dream best car i have driven in a long time my new car has the look and feel of a more expensive vehicle Read More
Great Car by Courtney
 — gets graet gas mileage. It handles good. It is alittle bumpy but not to bad. So far I believe it was built good, but I have only had it fo four months. I think it is a fun car to drive. Read More

2009 Kia Rio Review

The Good

Great value, loads of safety features, good fuel efficiency, solid construction, and a range of trims from a bare-bones sedan to a near-sporty four-door hatchback make the 2009 Kia Rio a worthwhile and practical investment.

The Bad

On the small end even for its class, an ultra-basic interior and only average safety scores in government and insurance industry crash tests despite all the '09 Rio's safety features may cause some to look elsewhere in the large and continually growing subcompact class.

The CarGurus View

If you're hoping for savings yet unwilling to sacrifice quality construction, the 2009 Kia Rio is worth a look. What the Rio lacks in standard interior amenities it makes up for with practical interior materials, a first-rate warranty, and enough options to satisfy those looking for a few bells and whistles. And while it may not deliver gut-churning power, the Rio handles with precision and pop.

At a Glance

Kia delivers the essence of a subcompact with its 2009 Rio – economy and practical quality. A look at its $11,495 MSRP for a base four-door sedan might suggest a flimsy car, but the Rios are solidly built vehicles that don’t skimp on safety features and come with a strong 5-year/60,000-mile complete warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Despite some speculation, the Rio is not going hybrid for 2009, but it still provides a 27/32 mpg rating with a manual transmission and 25/35 with an automatic.

A new Rio5 LX four-door hatchback joins the Rio5 SX for 2009 to offer consumers a more economical choice if they need the extra cargo room of a wagon. The sedan comes in three trims – Base, LX, and EX. There are some revamped details for the new Rios as well, including an audio system upgrade that includes a three-month Sirius Satellite Radio subscription, a new power package that includes audio controls on the steering wheel, and restyled front and rear ends.


2009 Kia Rio

All five of the Rio trims are front-wheel drive and come with a 110-horspeower, 1.6-liter inline four engine capable of 107 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 RPM. Kia’s Continuously Variable Valve Timing technology controls its four valves per cylinder.

A five-speed manual transmission comes standard with all trims and offers easy shifting and subtle clutch action. An electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive is also available.

This drivetrain may be best suited to light driving around town, as the Rio's 0-60 time of 9.4 seconds suggests, but it does pack enough power for the Rio’s five-passenger capacity.

Ride & Handling

2009 Kia Rio

The power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering on the LX and SX trims for both the sedan and wagons (the base sedan does not offer the power assist) supplies the Rio with precise steering that, coupled with its compact size, eases the rigors of urban driving. The SX trims feel practically sporty at times, except when you’re looking for that extra touch of power. All five trims come with independent MacPherson struts with coil springs and a stabilizer bar in the front suspension and a torsion beam and coil springs in the rear.

Hydraulic, power-assisted brakes come standard, but four-sensor, four-channel ABS brakes are available on all models and give the Rio sound stopping control and good pedal feel. The base sedan comes with P175/70R14 tires, the LX sedan with 185/65R14, the LX wagon and SX trims with 195/55R15.

Cabin & Comfort

2009 Kia Rio

Kia clearly went economical with the interior of the Rio as well, but even if it’s not luxurious, the Rio’s cabin is practical, and, like the rest of the car, well made.

The seats have cloth upholstery, but other than that most cabin surfaces are hard plastic that doesn’t look excessively cheap. The gauges and controls are all straightforward and accessible to eyes and hands. A USB-input jack for your MP3 players comes standard, as does a front 12-volt power outlet, tinted glass, and, for the LX and SX models, air-conditioning. A power package is required to motorize anything, including the door locks, but again this speaks to Kia’s practical approach to this practical car.

With 92.2 cubic feet of passenger room, the Rio won’t be comfortable for five large adults, but what subcompact car is? The sedans offer 11.9 cubic feet of cargo room, while the hatchbacks give you 15.8 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seat up and a whopping 49.6 when it's down. The LX and SX sedans have split-folding rear seats. With five small bins and a small glovebox, interior storage is minimal, but again, that’s not unexpected with this class of car.

You likely won’t be wowed by the Rio’s creature comforts, but as Car and Driver magazine said, “For a low-buck sedan, it’s substantially more refined than you’d expect.”


2009 Kia Rio

The Rio really outperforms its pricetag in terms of safety. Kia emphasizes safety with this vehicle and gives it full-length side-curtain airbags in the front and rear to keep all five passengers safe. The dual front air bags and dual front seat-mounted airbags register the severity of impact and inflate accordingly.

In addition to all the airbags, the Rio comes with side-impact door beams, front and rear crumple zones, a steering column that absorbs impact energy, front seat-belt pretensioners with force limiters, lower anchors and tethers for children in the rear seats, child safety locks, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

If that seems like a lot of safety features for an economy car, it is. As BusinessWeek said, “The Rio’s defining feature may be the package of safety gear Kia stitches into each one.”

What Owners Think

The Rio's reliability has received mixed reviews, but Kia does provide its 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty to alleviate some of those concerns. Consumers like the Rio's maneuverability, quality construction, easy-to-use controls and, of course, its price. Some have found the car to be a touch loud on rough surfaces.


What's your take on the 2009 Kia Rio?

People researching a 2009 Kia Rio contacted a dealer about

Picture of 2009 Kia Rio LX, exterior
Kia Rio
18% of the time
Honda Civic
11% of the time
Hyundai Accent
9% of the time
Ford Focus
9% of the time
Looking for a Used Rio in your area?
CarGurus has 6,768 nationwide Rio listings starting at $2,803.

Kia Rio Questions


My Battery Is Good When The Weather Is Warm, The Car Wouldnt Start Yesterda...

All the lights work but no motor - starter? I will have the battery checked but am curious if anyone has actually found an answer to their vehicles not starting all of a sudden? It's a standard transm...

10 views with 1 answer (last answer 2 weeks ago)
Renee Sheroski

Have A 2009 Kia Rio And I Can Crank It But It Won't Start But It Sounds Lik...

26 views with 1 answer (last answer about a month ago)

My Right Turn Signals Aren't Working!!

I have a 2009 kia rio. about a year or two after i got it my brother backed into an uncovered man hole on the left side. after that my right turn signals (the WHOLE right side) won't work. My break ...

17 views with 1 answer (last answer 2 months ago)

What Would Cause A Kia Radiator To Melt Inside If Theres Coolant In The Res...

engine light came on, car started screeching. checked to aid water but there was water in reservoir. light went out then came back on again.

34 views with 1 answer (last answer 4 months ago)
Charles Boales-McEwin

My 2009 Kia Rio Stalled On Me While I Was Driving It. Tried To Crank It But...

66 views with 7 answers (last answer 5 months ago)