2018 Kia Rio Preview

Joseph Dobrian | Apr 13, 2017
  • Roomier than previous model, with more comfort features
  • Available touch-screen interface and UVO3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Available as 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback models
  • Both models are longer, with longer wheelbase
  • Three trim levels are available, with enhanced engine


2018 Kia Rio 4-door front quarter right photo


The Kia Rio is an entry-level subcompact car, available as a 4-door sedan or a 5-door hatchback. This new, fourth-generation version adds standard comfort features and is slightly longer, lower, and wider than the previous model, providing more cabin room and a more athletic profile. Kia stresses its advanced safety features, fuel efficiency, and value. Three trim levels—LX, S, and ES—are available.

Exterior Features

According to Kia, the new Rio’s exterior offers crisper lines than previous generations, providing a more sophisticated and sporty look. The front end features the latest version of Kia’s “tiger-nose” grille and includes newly designed headlights that are swept back for a more aggressive appearance. The fog lamp surrounds have been moved outwards, giving the front fascia more visual width and creating a lower window line around the cabin for improved driver and passenger view.

The Rio sedan and hatchback have slightly different profiles, both of which Kia says give it the appearance of length. Both feature a longer wheelbase than previous models. The rear of the Rio is now more upright thanks to shorter overhangs and thinner taillights. The Rio rides on 15-in. alloy wheels that have been pushed to the corners.

Interior Features

A redesigned and more spacious interior features horizontal lines that run the width of the dashboard. The center console offers a bi-level tray to better accommodate portable devices. The sedan offers 89.9 cu. ft. of interior space; the hatchback, 90.5 cu. ft. The 2018 Kia Rio also features re-profiled door trims, new material for the headliner, and a reshaped dashboard. The sedan’s trunk offers 13.7 cu. ft. of space; the hatchback’s rear space comes to 17.4 cu. ft., or 32.8 cu. ft. with the rear seats folded down. The front seats feature a slimmer design but more cushion and padding. High-tech features include Bluetooth hands-free functionality, 6-speaker stereo with satellite radio, and a rearview camera.


2018 Kia Rio 5-door interior photo Optional FeaturesAvailable only on the top-tier EX trim is a 7-in. floating touch-screen interface, UVO3 voice-recognition infotainment system, and smartphone integration through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Under the Hood

The 2018 Rio features a carried-over but enhanced, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that features a high-pressure fuel system with direct injection, variable intake system, low-friction oil seals, and piston cooling-jets. Kia says this engine will target increased fuel efficiency, better responsiveness, and improved low-speed driving dynamics. The aluminum valve cover and block reduce its weight, while cast iron linings increase durability. Power goes to the front wheels through either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission in both the Rio sedan and Rio 5-door, and tops out at 130 horsepower and 119 lb.-ft. of torque. The two lower trim levels feature 11-in. disc brakes in front and drum brakes in the rear, while the EX has disc brakes front and rear.


Standard safety features on the new Rio include 6 air bags, electronic stability control, 4-wheel ABS, hill-start assist, and vehicle stability management (VSM). So far, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have published safety ratings for the 2018 Kia Rio.


2018 Kia Rio 5-door rear quarter left photo TechnologyThe 2018 Kia Rio’s all-new platform features a completely new suspension geometry. Kia’s engineers sought to refine the driving experience with more agile handling and improved ride comfort, via a fully independent MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion-beam rear axle. Both the Rio sedan and the Rio 5-door also benefit from a revised spring and damper setup that Kia says will make the vehicle more compliant and comfortable. Advanced high-strength steel increases durability, collision-test performance, and torsional stiffness, while reducing weight for improved handling and ride quality.

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