Jump to content
Create New...
  • William Maley
    William Maley

    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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)


    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 [email protected] or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    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.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    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.....


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • google-news-icon.png

  • google-news-icon.png

  • Subscribe to Cheers & Gears

    Cheers and Gears Logo

    Since 2001 we've brought you real content and honest opinions, not AI-generated stuff with no feeling or opinions influenced by the manufacturers.

    Please consider subscribing. Subscriptions can be as little as $1.75 a month, and a paid subscription drops most ads.*

    You can view subscription options here.

    *a very limited number of ads contain special coupon deals for our members and will show

  • Community Hive Community Hive

    Community Hive allows you to follow your favorite communities all in one place.

    Follow on Community Hive
  • Similar Content

  • Posts

    • I’m 99% sure it’s coming, just not officially announced. It might be a 2026 model. They’ve already developed the powertrain for the China market and with Barra’s reversal on PHEVs in the US, it seems logical to not waste development dollars.
    • I've warmed up to this more and more.  Even if the front end / grille is a little extreme and non Trad Buick, it actually comes off like some other brands.  Side profile as well.  I think Buick's distinction with these new front ends is to become sort of anonymously familiar with other brands like Toyota  and Subaru, but different enough so it looks unique vs other GM stuff. I am ok with the side profile now too, mostly.  It's generic but not badly done.  About as good as you can expect. The interior looks nice in pictures but I wonder if the dash materials will be cheap looking.  I like the idea of a big screen but it is a bit blob-like in its shape.  But that is the distinguishing feature of Buick interiors now.  I like the Traverse and Acadia interiors also, but the Enclave's is unique enough to appeal to someone who doesn't want the usual Chevy or GMC look.
    • That is the 'shark fin' you finally recognize........ I think if the Equinox EV is priced well (considering incentives and subsidized leases) I think it has a real chance to move in some volume.  Its shape is a little more un-GM (looks a bit like the Kia EV6) and may resonate with the lower end EV buyer more.  It appears to have a lot of room inside, and a really good dash layout. Let's see if GM scales back production numbers WAYYY back or if they decide to subsidize the living daylights out of their EV lines and just produce a lot of them.  They should do the latter, the rate of EV adoption is going to be slow for awhile again but you can win people with incentives.  We are likely to see all of these new GM EV's pretty much untouched for the next ten years (except for batteries and motors).  They can't kill any of these models because they would receive backlash after the EV1 axing.  They'll just have to plan for like a 10 year production run of all of the models.  Which is fine. They can get some desperate leases on the BlazerEV or Equinox EV set up for like 249 and not much down and I'd get one as a third car / weekly commute / good weather car and just use it to keep miles off my other cars.  Ultimately I'd like a hybrid....gonna look at the 25 Camry when it comes out as a commuter, AWD plus hybrid and 45 mpg I'd be up for that.  The 25 Equinox should have been offered with a plug in hybrid or even a plain hybrid.
    • The new Traverses make me double take as I think they are a Tahoe at first but then something in the back of my brain will click and say "WRONG". The difference between Equinox EV and Blazer EV is range, performance, and sportiness. 
    • I had seen first of the new traverses about 4 weeks ago but forgot to load pictures here . Lot trolling just now. The equinox EV is here now , not sure why we have the Blazer EV then since they are about the same interior size. Silverado EV in work truck trim sure looks meh.    the new traverses here I’ve seen have been front drive only, explains why they haven’t sold yet. Anyone here is snow country will look to get AWD.     
  • Who's Online (See full list)

    • There are no registered users currently online
  • My Clubs

  • Create New...

Hey there, we noticed you're using an ad-blocker. We're a small site that is supported by ads or subscriptions. We rely on these to pay for server costs and vehicle reviews.  Please consider whitelisting us in your ad-blocker, or if you really like what you see, you can pick up one of our subscriptions for just $1.75 a month or $15 a year. It may not seem like a lot, but it goes a long way to help support real, honest content, that isn't generated by an AI bot.

See you out there.


Write what you are looking for and press enter or click the search icon to begin your search