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    2013 Kia Rio SX Sedan


    By William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    May 28, 2013

    We all have that story of that one person we know that underwent a massive transformation. It starts off with the person who dumpy, bit nerdy, either really skinny or fat, or a number of items. Then maybe a few years on, you run into that same person and almost don’t recognize them. They’re dressed up in some nice clothing, loss some weight, built up some strength, and a few other things here and there.

    gallery_10485_656_945043.jpg

    The same is true for vehicles. When the first-generation Kia Rio was introduced back in 2000, it became the cheapest vehicle you could buy in the U.S. It also earned the dubious honor of the ‘cheap and cheerful’ label since everything else about the vehicle wasn’t that good. The second-generation Rio brought forth a more aggressive look, but it was a vehicle you would recommend only to your worst enemy. The third-generation Rio, introduced back in 2012, surprised everyone. Here was a vehicle that had sexy styling, a very impressive interior, and some clever tricks. But underneath of that skin, has Kia made a subcompact vehicle that can put its past life to rest? I had a 2013 Kia Rio SX sedan for a week to try and answer this question.

    gallery_10485_656_712393.jpg

    There is a golden rule concerning subcompact designs: Most of time, the hatchback is better looking than the sedan. In the case of the Rio sedan, it’s just as good or slightly better looking than the hatchback. Design elements of Kia’s design chief, Peter Schreyer are very evident in the Rio’s design. Starting up front, a smaller version of Kia’s tiger mouth grille makes an appearance and is flanked by a set of swept-up headlights. From the side, the doors feature two distinct character lines; one running along the bottom edge to the rear wheel well and the other running through the door handles to the trunk. There is also a set of seventeen-inch machine-finished alloy wheels that really help finish off the Rio.

    The Rio’s interior is a nice place to sit. The design is very handsome and puts the controls within easy reach of the driver and passenger. Surprisingly, Kia put a good amount of soft touch materials on the dashboard and door sills which give it an aire of luxury. As for space, the Rio is surprisingly roomy. You can fit four passengers in comfort, if they are all under six-feet. Seats are very supportive for both front and rear passengers.

    gallery_10485_656_549844.jpg

    Also helping helping with the luxury aura is the amount of standard equipment. You get a trip computer, Kia’s UVO infotainment system, USB and aux jacks, Bluetooth, side curtain airbags, heated and folding sideview mirrors, and a backup camera. You can increase the luxuries in the Rio by adding the Premium package which includes navigation, leather seats with heat, a proximity key with push-button start, and a sunroof. With a pricetag of $2,350 for the package, I highly recommend it.

    Powering the Rio is a 1.6L GDI four-cylinder engine with 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. That is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Power in the Rio SX sedan is adequate. It does take a moment or so for the engine to build up some steam. Plus when you’re trying to make a pass, you’re wishing just for a little bit more power. But once the engine is up to speed, it displays a surprising amount of refinement. However, the 1.6L GDI excels at fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2013 Kia Rio SX Sedan 28 City/36 Highway/31 Combined. During my week, I averaged 31.0 MPG.

    gallery_10485_656_774162.jpg

    The Rio SX differs from other Rios by coming equipped with sport-tuned suspension and it's a mostly fun car to drive. The part that lets the Rio SX down is its steering. While it has a surprising amount of feel, those who are expected a bit of weight will be disappointed since it's pretty light.

    Where the steering falls in one area, it exceeds in another area. In this case it's the urban environment and parking lots. The Rio’s steering shines here as its ability to dart around traffic is excellent and can fit into tight parking spots with no problem. As for the sport-tuned suspension, it's firm but not to the point where you’ll be crying uncle.

    There is one area I wish Kia would address in the refresh or the next Rio; road noise. Driving on the highway, I would have the radio cranked up to try and drown out the excessive road noise in the cabin. I know that most Rio buyers will drive the vehicle in town or out in the burbs, but be prepared for the amount of road noise coming inside if you decide to venture out onto the highway.

    Kia has a real winner on their hands with the 2013 Rio SX sedan. It raises the bar on what a subcompact vehicle could be in terms of design, features, and powertrain. Kia still needs to work on keeping road noise out and trying to find a balance with the steering weight. For many buyers though, the Rio offers the right combination.

    From a vehicle that wore the ‘cheap and cheerful’ tag to something that is in contention for being best in class; that's quite the transformation.

    gallery_10485_656_771070.jpg

    Disclaimer: Kia provided the Rio SX Sedan, Insurance, and one tank of gas.

    Year - 2013

    Make – Kia

    Model – Rio Sedan

    Trim – SX

    Engine – 1.6L GDI Four-Cylinder

    Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM – 138 @ 6,300 RPM

    Torque @ RPM – 123 @ 4,850 RPM

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/36/31

    Curb Weight – 2,483 lbs

    Location of Manufacture – Gwangmyeong, South Korea

    Base Price - $17,700.00

    As Tested Price - $21,340.00* (Includes $750.00 destination charge)

    Options:

    Premium Package - $2,350

    EC Mirror w/ Compass & Homelink - $350.00

    Carpeted Floor Mats - $115.00

    Rear Bumper Applique - $75.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Very solid review grammar issues aside. :P Still have to shake my head at a car that has plenty of HP and weak Torque.

    We all know Torque gets today's heavy modern auto's moving. When will they properly build an engine with Torque equal to or greater than HP.

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    Love the Rio, why is the Rio nicer inside than the Forte (should be Spectra)?

    Agreed, they did do a nice job here. This is the kind of product we should be seeing from chryco and are not...

    Not bad at all.....

    Indeed!

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    • By William Maley
      When I go back and look at the various Kia Optimas I have driven for Cheers & Gears, there has been one variant that I haven’t driven, the 2.0L turbo-four. But this changed back over the summer when a 2016 Kia Optima SXL came into the Cheers & Gears’ Detroit bureau for a week-long evaluation. The SXL serves as the Optima’s flagship trim with more premium materials and the turbo-four.
      As I mentioned in my Optima EX review from earlier this year, the redesigned Optima looks familiar to the previous model. But that isn’t a bad thing per say. It is still as sharp looking as the previous model and the changes done such as a new trunk lid, LED taillights, a smaller grille, and reshaped headlights. The SXL takes it a step further with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, Turbo badging on the fender vents, and a little bit more chrome. Finished in a dark blue, the Optima SXL is damn good looking midsize sedan. You won’t find many differences in the SXL’s interior compared to other Optima’s. The key one is the seats being wrapped Nappa leather with a quilted pattern. If I am being honest, I can’t really tell difference between the Nappa leather and the standard leather used on other Kia models.  But what I can tell the difference with is the materials used in the SXL’s interior. Kia swaps the soft-touch plastic used on the dash and door panels for stitched leatherette. This is to give the impression that you’re in something more expensive and it works very well. The Optima SXL’s backseat is slightly tighter than the one found in the Optima EX. Why? The SXL comes with a panoramic sunroof as standard, which eats into headroom. Let’s talk about the engine. The SXL features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Leaving a stop, it takes a moment for the engine to fully wake up and you can’t help but wonder where is the power. At first, I thought this new 2.0L developed a bad case of turbo-lag. But I soon realized that it was a lazy throttle that was causing this issue. This is something we have been noticing in recent Hyundai and Kia models equipped with the turbo engine. Once you get over the lazy throttle, the engine moves the Optima with some authority. Merging onto a freeway or making a pass is no problem as the turbo quickly spools up and gives the necessary thrust. It doesn’t hurt the engine is very refined. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 22 City/32 Highway/25 Combined. I achieved a not too shabby 26.1 mpg average for the week. One of my biggest complaints about the last Optima I drove was the uncomfortable ride. The tuning on the EX model let in more bumps and road imperfections inside than what I was expecting. To my surprise, the SXL featured a more comfortable ride. Despite featuring larger wheels, the SXL was able to iron out most bumps and imperfections. I can’t explain why there is a vast difference in terms of ride quality between the two trims at this time. The SXL does retain the sharp handling that we liked in the Optima EX. Body motions are kept in check and the steering provides a nice heft when turning. Some will lament that the steering doesn’t have the same feel as something like the Mazda6, but this has to be Kia’s best effort yet.  The Optima SXL begins at $35,790 and that includes every option available on the Optima as standard equipment - 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, surround view camera system, and much more. Some might balk at the price. But considering what the SXL brings to the table, along with its improved ride quality, it is very much worth the price. Plus, you might be able to work out a deal to where you’ll be able to cut the price. We’ve seen dealers cutting about $2,000 to $4,000 off Optima SXLs in an effort improve sales of the midsize sedan. Who knows, you might be able to get one of best equipped and decent driving midsize sedans at a surprising price. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Optima SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Kia
      Model: Optima
      Trim: SXL
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25
      Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia
      Base Price: $35,790
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A

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