If you want a cheap, small car, your options just dwindled down to one.
Recently, insider sources more or less confirmed the Mitsubishi Mirage would leave the US market in the next couple years. That leaves the market of affordable economy cars on life support, with only two real contenders remaining. Now, we’re losing another option, as an Automotive News report confirms the Kia Rio will also be dropped from the lineup after the 2023 model year.
In a market where larger, feature-rich cars rule, it’s hardly a surprising outcome. However, the Rio’s demise means your only real option for a new car under $20,000 is the Nissan Versa, and that’s it. Sure, the Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 and other small cars are still available, but you’re simply not getting one of those cars brand-new for the same price as you could one of these subcompacts.
It goes without saying that the market as a whole has dramatically shifted over the past few years. Automakers shifted their production toward crossovers because they can achieve higher profit margins and, let’s be honest, those are the sorts of cars people are actually buying. Even with interest rates and payments ballooning to a record $733 per month, buyers forgo small, cheap options.
So far this year, Kia dealers moved just 16,554 Rios.
It’s a relatively steady seller, but when you consider that the automaker shifted 39,870 Soul hatchbacks, 37,674 Seltos crossovers and 83,742 Sportages, it’s clearer to see why it’s killing off the humble little Rio.
Despite its imminent demise, I’d still recommend Kia’s entry-level model if you are looking for a cheap-as-can-be commuter. It’s not a flamboyant or exciting car, I’ll grant you, but it has most features you’d want in a basic car, and the last time I drove one I managed over 50 mpg. Even if you just manage EPA figures, you’ll get 36 combined mpg and up to 41 mpg on the highway, making it a great option without having to shell out the extra cash for a hybrid.
You even get standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, for crying out loud.
Food for thought — if you are shopping on a budget, your days to pick up a new Kia Rio (with the brand’s ironclad 10-year/100,000-mile warranty) are numbered.