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    2012 Kia Rio SX 5-Door


    By Chris Doane

    January 29, 2013

    I know I won’t get much, if any, sympathy when I say that, sometimes, there are letdowns when you review cars. Last week, the car I was evaluating was a $100,000, 400hp, German coupe. (Read my review of the 2012 BMW 650i xDrive coupe here) I’ve now stepped directly from that into a Kia Rio.

    I’ll pause for your laughter.

    For the price of the super coupe, you can buy 5.4 Kia Rios. You could keep that .4 for spare parts?

    But don’t let price fool you. Oddly enough, there is something about the way the Kia drives that beats the German car hands down.

    gallery_10485_562_116142.jpg

    If you guessed power, speed or luxury, then you’re either not familiar with these cars, or you’re three martinis into “lunch” at the bar. What the much cheaper Kia does have over the German car is steering feel. The coupe from Deutschland has 262 more horse power, yards and yards of leather, but in the Kia, I actually have some sense of what the front wheels are doing via what I feel through the steering wheel. And I’ll take some feel over none any day.

    If driving is something you enjoy, steering feel is pretty useful information to have when zipping through the corners. Even if driving is nothing more than a task for you, it’s pretty nice to know when the front wheels feel like they’re about to lose traction. While no one would ever mistake the Rio for a sporty, corner carving car, the Rio SX model has a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels, and light, responsive steering that, somehow, make this small, underpowered car a little bit fun to drive.

    It’s a bit like a go-kart, only with airbags, a trunk and room for five passengers. Well, 4.5 anyway.

    The main reason I say “a little bit fun to drive” is because of the 1.6L, 138hp four cylinder motor in the Rio. Those hot, 17-inch wheels on this Rio SX might make it look quick, but this hatchback ain’t going anywhere fast. While there is certainly power to be had from this little four-banger, you’ve got to rev the snot out of it to reach that power. Once the tachometer reads 4500-5000rpm, then you approach something that could be considered acceleration.

    In regular, everyday driving, the lack of power isn’t really an issue. You’ll get through the city, and around the highways, just fine. But in some situations, like passing on even a modest incline, you might think twice. As I attempted to pass an older, slower Nissan on a slight uphill, the pass happened in such slow fashion that I would’ve had time to say hello to the driver, ask if he was hungry, make a sandwich, and pass it over. Wait, did he want Grey Poupon?

    gallery_10485_562_63409.jpg

    So we don’t have speed, but that should come as no surprise since this car is intended more for fuel efficiency. The Rio is rated for 28mpg city, 36mpg highway, and we observed a 31mpg average with sporty driving habits and more highway driving than city driving. There is also an “eco” button you can press that reigns in the engine, and transmission shift points, for increased fuel economy.

    Even though the fuel economy is fairly good, the tank in the Rio is pretty tiny at 11.3 gallons. If you have a long commute, you’ll still be filling up a lot, but at least you’ll only be pumping in 11 gallons each time.

    If you want to know when that tank is about to run dry, it’s not a good idea to rely on the digital, remaining range readout in the gauge cluster. One moment, the Rio SX told me I could drive another 31 miles before I was out of fuel. Less than 5 minutes of regular driving later, it told me I had no range remaining.

    Inside the Rio, it’s about what you’d expect in a $18,545 car. A nicely designed, mostly hard plastic interior, but with soft touch material in the right spots and a backup camera. Wait, what? A backup camera in a $18,545 car? Touch-screen nav too? Don’t forget the power fold mirrors. Though, in a car this narrow, I’m not really sure why you’d ever need to fold in the mirrors.

    gallery_10485_562_191278.jpg

    Of those features, it’s the backup camera that is almost a necesity due to the massive blind spots the stylish C-pillars create. Without a rear-facing camera, backing out of a parking spot involves more prayer than driving skill.

    Normally, in cars of this price range, the seats suffer when it comes to comfort. Somehow, the chairs in the Rio manage not to do that. They certainly aren’t heavily padded or bosltered seats, but after three hours of wheeling, I was perfectly comfortable, and ready for three more.

    Frankly, the best part of the Rio is how fantastic it looks. If you venture back even a few years ago and look at the cars Kia was producing then, you’d never have guessed this company was capable of designing something this good looking.

    Not only does the exterior design trump the Scion xB, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa, but it certainly holds its’ own against the Chevy Sonic and Ford Fiesta as well.

    gallery_10485_562_255414.jpg

    2012 Kia Rio SX 5-door - $17,700

    -Carpeted Floor Mats - $95

    -Destination - $750

    TOTAL - $18,545

    tn_gallery_10485_562_255414.jpg

    Album: 2012 Kia Rio SX 5-Door

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    SHOOT, I forgot about the Rio... you know, I've always liked the European looks of the current Rio, and with Kia's warranty and the nice features... maybe I should look at one. With a manual transmission and mostly highway commute, I would hopefully beat the tested fuel mileage average. Off to Build&Price!

    EDIT: nevermind. They suck. No manual transmission available on the nicer trims. So thankful Sonic and Fiesta are available with a fun, manual transmission in LTZ and Titanium trims.

    Edited by ocnblu
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    Interesting Jelly Bean of a car. While it tends to just blend in like all other commuter cars, I do apprecaite the Chris talked about a very important feedback. I love to drive and I want to feel what the auto is doing. If you do not know where the car is at any given point, then do not waste money on performance cars. The whole Idea is to becomeone with the machine and push the limits as long as you get proper feedback.

    Pass on the car, but glad it has some feedback via the wheel. :P

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    stylish for what it is, inside and out. some cheapness that just comes in that price range.

    Kia has done a very good job.

    I think it was stupid for kia to change the Spectra name to Forte. I think they lost a lot of customers on that move. The Spectra was gaining a lot of traction in the market, and then they pulled it.......started selling the "Forte" and it got lost in translation.

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    that is not the only reason.

    i think the styling was a bit amiss and there was some interior cheapness. It was trying to be too cool. This Rio is slightly cool, but still has a proper amount of mainstream.

    At the time, Spectra name was gaining a lot of traction but it was not cool enough, Forte killed all the brand equity in the Spectra name. If the next Forte had the looks of this Rio enlarged, and had been named Spectra all along, I think it would probably doing serious volume and making huge cuts into Corolla and Civic sales.

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      Make: Dodge
      Model: Challenger
      Trim: SXT Plus
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      Horsepower @ RPM: 305 @ 6,350
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      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/30/23
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      Make: Dodge
      Model: Challenger
      Trim: SXT Plus
      Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
      Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 305 @ 6,350
      Torque @ RPM: 268 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/30/23
      Curb Weight: 3,885.2 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
      Base Price: $26,995
      As Tested Price: $34,965 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      SXT Plus 3.6L V6 Package 21V - $3,000.00
      Driver Convenience Group - $1,095.00
      Sound Group II - $795.00
      Blacktop Package - $695.00
      Super Track Pak - $695.00
      UConnect 8.4 NAV - $695.00
    • By William Maley
      A few months ago, we reported on a Kia ad that sneakily revealed that a turbocharged Soul would be arriving this winter. Now Kia has spilled the beans on the 2017 Soul Turbo before its official debut at the Paris Motor Show next week. 
      As was speculated, the Soul Turbo will use the 1.6L turbocharged-four used in the used in the Forte Koup and Forte5 (Cee'd GT and Pro_Cee'd GT in Europe). It produces 201 horsepower and will go through a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. 0-60 mph takes about 7.5 seconds. Outside, the turbo model features new bumpers, slightly tweaked front grille, and a new set of 18-inch aluminum wheels. 
      Kia will begin sales of the 2017 Soul Turbo later this year in Europe. Expect Kia to provide details on the U.S.-spec model at the LA Auto Show in November or sometime sooner.
      Source: Kia
      Press Release is on Page 2


      Kia introduces powerful new Soul 1.6 T-GDI and updates Soul model line-up
      New Soul variant powered by 201 bhp 1.6-litre T-GDI Engine paired with fast-shifting seven-speed double-clutch transmission Design complements enhanced performance New safety features, and Android AutoTM and Apple CarPlayTM integration Upgraded Soul and Soul 1.6 T-GDI on sale in UK from late 2016 Kia has announced details of a range of upgrades to the Soul compact SUV, and the introduction of a powerful new 201 bhp 1.6-litre T-GDI engine variant, the most powerful Soul ever engineered by the Korean brand.
      The Soul has received a light update to its exterior and interior design, and is now available with new safety and infotainment technologies. The upgraded Soul and Soul 1.6 T-GDI will be available in the UK from late 2016 and will have its public unveiling at the 2016 Paris Motor Show (Mondial de l'Automobile) on 29 September.
      Soup for the Soul: Kia launches new 201 bhp Soul 1.6 T-GDI
      Kia has introduced a new version of the Soul to the line-up - the new Soul 1.6 T-GDI.
      Powered by Kia's 201 bhp 1.6-litre T-GDI (turbo gasoline direct injection) engine from the cee'd GT and pro_cee'd GT, the new Soul 1.6 T-GDI is the most powerful Soul that Kia has produced. With the new engine, the car will accelerate from 0-to-60 mph in 7.5 seconds, with a top speed of 122 mph and produce CO2 emissions of 156 g/km.
      The engine transmits its power to the front wheels through Kia's advanced new seven-speed double-clutch transmission (7DCT), providing instant gear changes and decisive acceleration at all speeds. A new Drive Mode Selector - available across the Soul range on models equipped with the 7DCT - lets Soul T-GDI drivers switch between Normal, Eco and Sport modes, each subtly adapting the level of steering assistance available, to allow for normal, light or heavy steering depending on driver preference and driving conditions.
      The Soul 1.6 T-GDI is differentiated from conventional models in the Soul range with a series of exterior modifications, including a bolder front bumper and air intake grille design, twin exhaust pipes at the rear, and its own 10-spoke 18-inch aluminium alloy wheel design. Completing the sportier appearance of the T-GDI model are red highlights to the front bumper and side sills.
      Kia has also made changes to the interior of the Soul 1.6 T-GDI. The powerful new model features its own distinctive cabin colour scheme, with black cloth and leather upholstery paired with orange stitching. A D-shaped steering wheel and orange highlights throughout the cabin, including orange metal paint on the gearstick, add further purpose to the design of the Soul 1.6 T-GDI's interior.
      The Soul 1.6 T-GDI is available with larger brakes than the standard Soul. The car is fitted with 17" ventilated front discs, the solid rear discs remain the same size. The revised brakes reduce the stopping distance of the Turbo model slightly, to 35.3 metres when stopping from 60 mph (down from 35.5 metres), with the changes primarily made to ensure fade-free braking power under consistent use.
      Design and technology upgrades to the Kia Soul range
      The Kia Soul range has received a series of upgrades to further enhance its appeal among buyers.
      These include updates to its exterior appearance, with remodelled front and rear bumpers with a metallic skid plate for a more robust appearance. The Soul's front bumper houses optional bi-function HID (high-intensity discharge) headlights with LED daytime running lights, and an updated finish to Kia's signature ‘tiger-nose' grille. The rear of the car features newly-designed fog lamps and reflectors for greater illumination for following road users.
      The ambience of the cabin has also been enhanced with the introduction of new gloss black and metallic highlights and switchgear. In addition, new exterior features emphasise the car's compact SUV credential with a gloss black finish to front and rear wheel arches, and a body kit for front and rear bumpers and side sills on selected models.
      New technologies will further enhance the appeal of the Soul, with buyers able to choose from Kia's latest 5.0-, 7.0- or 8.0-inch colour touchscreen infotainment HMI (human-machine interface). The new HMI systems provide smartphone-style touchscreen control over the audio-visual navigation system, and is available with Apple CarPlayTM (for iPhone 5 or newer) and Android AutoTM (for Android 5.0 Lollipop or newer) for full smartphone integration. The new HMI systems also house a rear-view parking camera, and a new USB port has been added to the rear of the cabin, allowing back-seat passengers to charge mobile devices on the move. The front passenger seat is also now available with eight-way power adjustment, and drivers can benefit from new rain-sensing windscreen wipers and, in models equipped with 7DCT, the new Drive Mode Selector.
      Safety is also improved in the Soul with the adoption of Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) for the first time, giving drivers better all-round visibility on motorways and during low-speed parking manoeuvres.
      2017 Kia Soul and Soul 1.6 T-GDI on sale in UK from late 2016
      The upgraded Kia Soul and the new Soul 1.6 T-GDI will be available from Kia's UK dealer network in late 2016 following its unveiling in Paris. Full UK specification and pricing will be released at launch.

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