Need a redesigned 5-passenger subcompact sedan that humps some hefty value, room and power? Check out the 2012 Kia Rio EX. This midlevel trim now sports a new, modern look, 13.7 cubic feet of trunk space, more legroom (at least in front) and direct injection. But fear not, it still retains one of the best warranty packages in the business, so its traditional family value is not at all compromised.
Outside, look for standard 15-inch steel wheels and heated power-adjustable mirrors, while premium cloth upholstery, front bucket seats, a rear center folding armrest and simulated alloy accents make for a welcoming new cabin appearance. Then there are such added standard convenience amenities as remote power door locks, power windows, cruise control, telescoping tilt-wheel steering and a trip computer. Complementing all this are goodies like air conditioning and Bluetooth hands-free calling, with entertainment consisting of an MP3-capable single-CD player with 6 speakers, satellite radio and a USB port.
Options-wise, the 2012 Rio EX is eligible for an available Convenience Package that stars 15-inch alloy wheels, power-folding outside mirrors, Kia’s touted UVO infotainment system with Bluetooth music streaming, a rear-view camera, soft-touch dashboard material and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob. Also, this midlevel trim can be delivered with an available auto-dimming rear-view mirror with an integrated universal remote garage door opener, as well as available carpeted floor mats.
Powering this year’s reworked Rio EX is a direct-injected (DI) 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) engine that mates with a new 6-speed shiftable automatic transmission to cook up 138 hp and 123 lb-ft of torque, some 15% more oomph than last year’s trim. Mileage, meanwhile, is estimated at 28 mpg city/36 highway.
Finally, this midlevel trim also becomes eligible for Kia’s brand-new ECO Package, featuring ISG (Idle, Stop and Go) technology, whereby, as in a traditional hybrid system, the engine automatically shuts off at a stop and restarts when the pedal is pushed to go.
Safety-wise, look for this tricked-out Rio to boast 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front and rear head airbags, front side-mounted airbags and turn-signal-integrated mirrors. Front fog/driving lights, finally, are optional for the new-look EX.