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2021 Kia Rio Overview

Not all that long ago, Kia was known as a budget brand that made throwaway cars, but that has changed drastically over the years. The brand is now known for making value-packed vehicles with desirable features and long warranties. The closest model in the Kia stable to the way things used to be is the Rio, a car that is offered as both a sedan and as a five-door hatchback.

Kia updated the little-but-practical Rio with massaged front-end styling and an upgraded 8-inch touchscreen that runs wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which will come standard for both the LX and S trim levels. Even with that tech upgrade, the Rio remains a mostly barebones affair. Power comes from a 1.6-liter inline-four-cylinder engine that produces 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque. It’s the same unit that comes in a Hyundai Accent and comes paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Rio is front-wheel drive (FWD) and comes standard with 15-inch wheels and rear drum brakes.

Inside, the car gets woven cloth upholstery, air conditioning, and four speakers with two tweeter speakers in both trims. Niceties like automatic climate controls, a push-button start system, and advanced safety tech are held back as options that can only be added to the top S trim level.

The Kia Drive Wise equipment group is part of one such option package and includes forward-collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, lane-following assist, high-beam assist, driver-attention warnings, lane-departure warnings, and a rear occupant alert system. The rest of the Technology Package that houses that safety gear adds LED headlights and positioning lights, a smart key with push-button start, automatic climate controls, alloy wheels, chrome exterior trim, and more.

The 2021 Kia Rio is on sale now and comes with a starting price of $17,045—which includes a $995 destination charge. The Rio S starts at $17,685 after destination and can be upgraded with the $1,800 Technology Package that brings safety and equipment, as well as upgraded lighting.


Chris is an automotive journalist covering new vehicle reveals, news, and technology. He loves digging into the details to tell entertaining and informative stories.

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