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2018 Kia Rio Overview

The Kia Rio is all-new for 2018 with a sportier design, a more comfortable and spacious interior, and upscale technologies to keep you connected on the road. With even more standard safety features, Kia is also shooting for an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick designation and 5 stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Changes to the 2018 Rio start with a revised exterior design. It sports the latest version of Kia’s grille, new headlights, and a new placement for the fog lamps. The body is longer, lower, and wider than that of the previous-generation Rio, which both enhances its looks and increases cabin space for passengers.

The inside of the Rio has been redesigned as well and features a more ergonomic layout and better materials. There’s extra headroom, legroom, and shoulder room up front, while backseat passengers have more space for their legs and shoulders. Cargo room is also ample at 13.7 cubic feet, and those who need more storage capacity should consider the hatchback version of the Rio—the Rio5. The Rio5 provides 17.4 cubic feet of cargo space, which expands to 32.8 cubic feet with the seats folded.

Power for the Rio comes from a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 130 hp and 119 lb-ft of torque paired with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. This is a carryover engine, but it brings improved fuel efficiency and better responsiveness. A revised spring and damper setup and a reduction in body weight help provide an overall smoother and more confident ride.

The Rio offers the choice of three different trims, starting with the base LX, which is the only trim available with a manual transmission. It features cloth upholstery, a 6-way-adjustable driver’s seat, air conditioning, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, 4 speakers, and a 5-inch infotainment display with AM/FM/CD/MP3 and satellite radio. Bluetooth is available as an add-on and comes standard on the higher trims.

The middle Rio S trim adds such cosmetic accents and amenities as body-color door handles and matching power-adjustable heated outside mirrors, a sunglass holder with map lights, and remote keyless entry with a trunk release. The rear seats on the Rio S split-fold 60/40 for more flexibility with cargo, and the infotainment system gains a reversing camera and an additional USB charger.

At the top of the lineup for this subcompact is the Rio EX. This trim gets fog lights, a black and chrome grille, and a black and body-color bumper. The interior boasts a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, illuminated vanity mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, and upgraded Tricot cloth seats. A red leather accent package and a padded front door armrest are available additions. The EX’s standard technology also receives a significant upgrade for 2018, with a larger 7-inch display, the latest UVO3 infotainment system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for easy smartphone integration. This connectivity comes standard on the EX but is not available at all on the lower trims.

The all-new 2018 Rio promises to deliver a safer and more comfortable ride than that of its predecessor. Standard safety features include multiple airbags, anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability management, tire-pressure monitoring, and hill-start assist, and the top EX trim adds autonomous emergency braking to the list.

Pricing for the 2018 Rio has not yet been announced, but it’s expected to maintain the Rio’s reputation as an affordable subcompact.


Nicole Wakelin's passion for cars started on the day she went for a ride in a bright red Ferrari as a teenager. She writes reviews and covers everything cars for CarGurus, The Boston Globe, BestRide, AAA, Autobytel, and numerous other outlets.

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Kia Rio Questions

Dash Controls

Ive touched a button on the steering wheel of my Kia Rio so now the dash is saying "System Off". This means that I cannot see the digital speedo display now. How do I turn it back on please? I think...

Audio Wiring Diagram

Can’t find anything about the radio / speaker wiring diagram for the 2018 Kia Rio

2018 Kia Rio Bucking (jerking)

I have a new Kia Rio that I purchased last year. From almost the very beginning I noticed that sometimes the vehicle feels like it is bucking (or jerking) whenever I step on the accelerator travelin...