2012 Kia Rio SX Review

Expert Reviews Feature Articles Kia

Interior/Exterior Styling

As I mentioned before, this car looks pretty similar to a GTI at first glance. It even received a few double takes on the road as this really is a nice looking car.

Kia hired away Peter Schreyer, formerly of Volkswagen fame. I mention him only because I believe that Kia has really done a fantastic job in making the cars look ten times better than their previous generations. They are developing a solid identity where you can see one at a distance and recognize them more easily. Trademark designs like the grille and taillight designs all help to differentiate these cars from the competition. Yes, it may look like a GTI at first glance, and while that is not bad, you quickly realize that it’s a Kia.

Inside, the Rio’s layout and feel is comfortable. For a sub $20k car, the materials are not as soft as you would see in a $20k plus car of course, but the tactile feel is good. The use varied materials within the cockpit give it a bit more of an upscale feel, and the upholstery is also comfortable to the touch.

Subtle bolstering on the front seats are perfect for the SX trim. Offering a bit more support and grip, I never experienced the need to move around too much in the seat on longer drives.

The rear seating area is spartan and simple. The rear 60/40 split is a necessary feature in order to fit anything larger than a few grocery bags or a medium sized gear bag.

Value/ Who should buy it?

Among the highly competitive compact and sub compact market, brands are recognizing that they need to be on their game. With major players like Honda and Toyota pushing hard, it’s refreshing to see a brand like Kia come in and shake it up. In my mind, they’ve hit a home run in regards to combining styling, performance, and value, so I hope they can make an impact on the market.

The Kia Rio SX is ideal for the budget minded buyer who is looking for sporty practicality. It excelled in urban environments where a small, agile car is vital. It may not be ideal for large families, or gear heavy outdoor enthusiasts, but others it could be ideal. Plus it’s a killer looking car.


Engine: 1.6 Liter GDI (Gas Direct Injection), 4 cylinder motor
Power: 138 HP at 6300 RPM Front Wheel Drive
Torque: 123 lb ft at 4850 RPM
Transmission: 6 speed automatic transmission
MPG: 30 City / 40 Highway
Price: $17,700 / $18,545 as tested

Build Interior Performance Handling Styling Value Overall
Rating 3.5 3.5 4.0 3.0 5.0 4.0 3.83/C+

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