The 2018 Kia Rio LX Hatchback Takes a Pure Back-to-Basics Approach [Review]

2018 Kia Rio
The 2018 Kia Rio LX 5-door offers a back-to-basics approach to a modern car. [Photo: Arv Voss]


The 2018 Kia Rio LX takes a back to basics approach. What exactly does that mean? Well, when was the last time you drove a vehicle with no keyless entry, no push button start, no navigation system, and manually adjustable outside mirrors? How about an actual handle to crank the windows up and down? The truth is that you can’t get much more basic than that these days.

Kia conceived the new Rio’s design at their design studios in Irvine, Calif. The 2018 Rio 5-door and its sedan counterpart are evolutionary, showcasing a new angle on the Kia family image including a larger air intake, serving up a more a youthful face. With sloping shoulder lines and wedge-shaped exteriors, both the hatchback and sedan display attractive profile.

2018 Kia Rio LX 5-door
[Photo: Arv Voss]


Inside the cabin, the 2018 Rio LX 5-door delivers a solid-feeling cabin, even though most of the plastics are hard to the touch. The Rio’s ergonomic layout emphasizes spaciousness and comfort, especially with its redesigned seats. An extended, 101.6-inch wheelbase pays dividends in passenger space and comfort. The Rio provides 38.9 inches of front headroom and 37.4 inches rear headroom. There’s also 42.1 inches front legroom and 33.5 inches rear legroom – not terrible for a small car. Cargo space amounts to an impressive 17.4 cubic feet with the seats up, while that increases to 32.8 feet with the seats folded.

In the technology field, the 2018 Kia Rio LX comes with a 5.0-inch display, although you shouldn’t strain your eyes looking for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay support. For that, you’ll have to upgrade to the top-of-the-range EX model. It does offer AM/FM/MP3 and satellite radio, but that’s about it. On the LX, you do not get a rear camera display, as you do on the two higher trims. The LX trim comes standard with four speakers, and you do get steering-wheel mounted audio controls.

Standard safety fare on all Rio trims include ABS, Electronic Stability Control and Hill Start Assist. The car’s Vehicle Stability Management system coordinates the car’s ESC and ABS to help the driver stay in control of the vehicle. The base trim does omit the Autonomous Emergency Braking system, which is only available on the EX model.

2018 Kia Rio LX
[Photo: Arv Voss]


Both models and all trims are powered by a carry-over 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. LX models come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but a six-speed automatic is also available. The automatic is your only option on all other Rio models. Interestingly, the new Kia Rio actually makes less power than the old one – achieving 130 horsepower and 119 lb-ft of torque. By comparison, the old model made 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque. However, fuel economy remains about the same, with fuel economy ratings of 28 City/37 Highway MPG.

The 2018 Kia Rio 5-door hatch is fairly sporty in its handling setup. It’s agile and nimble, but it’s certainly no race car, as you’d expect. The ride quality around town is perhaps a little too firm, especially on rough and uneven road surfaces. However, on one of my favorite twisty back roads, that was barely noticeable and the Rio stuck like glue. Manual shifting with the automatic was precise, with predictable and smooth gear transitions. Even though it’s not too powerful, it was still a fun experience.

2018 Kia Rio LX
[Photo: Arv Voss]


My test 2018 Kia Rio LX’s base price was $15,290, taking into account the $1,090 uptick for the automatic transmission. The final sticker came to $16,315 after adding the carpeted floor mats and destination charges.

This back-to-basics 2018 Kia Rio hatchback is a fun small car at an affordable price. On top of that, it’s covered by Kia’s comprehensive warranty program. Included are a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, 5-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty with anti-perforation coverage and roadside assistance.

Since the Rio is such a small car, how does it work for larger individuals? Watch our video review below to find out! Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow for more real-world reviews.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Kia Rio LX 5-Door

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $15,290
Price as Tested: $16,315
Engine: 1.6-liter naturally-aspirated I-4
Drivetrain (Layout): Transversely mounted front engine, front-wheel drive
Horsepower: 130 hp @ 6,300 RPM
Torque: 119 lb-ft @ 4,850 RPM
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Suspension: Front: MacPherson strutRear: Coupled torsion beam axle
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front)
Tires: Continental ProContact TX P185/65 R15
Fuel capacity: 11.9 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 28 City/37 Highway/32 Combined MPG


Wheelbase: 101.6 inches
Length:  172.6 inches
Width: 67.9 inches
Height:  57.1 inches
Turning Circle: 33.46 feet
Curb Weight: 2,714 pounds