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The third-generation Kio Rio was introduced in 2012. As it nearly has since its inception, the product line is comprised of hatchback and sedan body styles.
Upon its debut, the new-for-2012 Kia Rio was offered in three trim levels: LX, EX and SX for both body styles. All models come with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine making 138 horsepower.
Model year 2012-2015 LX models come standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, while a six-speed automatic transmission is optional. Rio EX and SX editions have a standard six-speed automatic transmission. Beginning in 2016, the manual transmission was dropped from the hatchback line. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are included with the SX.
Third-generation Kia Rio models have a more carefully constructed visage, losing the utilitarian look of the previous generation. Still an entry-level model, the Rio features the tiger nose grille that's found elsewhere in the Kia portfolio, as well as oversized headlamp assemblies and available LED light treatments. A large lower grille opening is bounded with sporty embrasures housing the available fog lights.
The diminutive Rio features similar flowing lines on both the hatchback and the sedan. Both models have a rising beltline with profile sculpting and character lines. The roofline in the sedan flows into a raised rear deck, while the hatchback's roof ends with its rear spoiler and liftgate. Both models are marked by oversized, wraparound tail lamps.
As part of a product cycle update introduced in 2016, the sedan and hatchback received modified front and rear valances to provide a sportier look.
Inside, the Kia Rio offers room for five, but it is more comfortable for four. Passenger volume measures 88.4 cubic feet in both models. The sedan has a trunk with 13.7 cubic feet of storage capacity. The hatchback has 12.3 cubic feet of storage space behind the second row seat and 49.8 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
The Rio's instrument panel is a three-analog display with tachometer and oil/fuel gauges confining the speedometer and a digital readout. All models come equipped with satellite radio, dual 12-volt power outlets, a USB port and an auxiliary input jack. Cloth seats, a 60-40 split fold-down rear seat and air conditioning air also included.
Rio EX and SX models bring in power accessories, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and available leather. A navigation system and a rearview camera are available.
Among subcompact models, the Kia Rio competes with the Ford Fiesta, Scion iA, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Chevrolet Sonic and Nissan Versa.
The first-generation Kia Rio was produced from 2001 to 2005. The sedan was introduced in 2001 and the hatchback in 2002. Initially, the Rio was powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 96 horsepower and paired with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.
In 2003, Kia replaced the Rio's motor with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 104 horsepower. No changes were made to the transmission offerings for the remainder of the first generation. Throughout its first-generation run, Kia offered a mono spec trim and a basic one at that with steel wheels, air conditioning and an AM/FM radio standard.
The second-generation Kia Rio was produced from 2006 to 2011. Kia continued with the same powertrain arrangement, but managed to coax more power and better fuel economy out of the engine, which now produced 110 horsepower. New trim levels were added, beginning with base and LX trims in 2006. The Rio SX followed a year later in 2007.
Depending on the model year, equipment upgrades with the second-generation Rio brought in available satellite radio, cruise control, an auxiliary audio input and a USB connection. Premium cloth seats, keyless entry and heated sideview mirrors were also made available.