Kia Rio Review 2024

Kia Rio At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
If you want simple, honest transport then the Kia Rio fits the bill perfectly.

+Practical and easy to drive. Enjoyable on a country road. Great 1.0 T-GDI engine. Good value. Long warranty.

-Ride could be better in town. Some old-fashioned engine options.

New prices start from £19,600
Insurance Groups are between 2–8
On average it achieves 81% of the official MPG figure

The current Kia Rio arrived in 2017 and continued the upwards trend of this Korean firm in terms of styling, quality and appeal. While it may not have the outright desirability of a Volkswagen Polo or the deft handling of a Ford Fiesta, the Rio is a very sound, safe and dependable supermini choice. Low running costs are ideal for anyone on a tight budget, while the engines offer around 50mpg based on which one you choose. All that in one of the most spacious small hatches available. Read on for our full Kia Rio review.

Like so many reality television stars, Kia has been on a journey over the past few years and the Rio that arrived in 2017 throws this into sharp relief. Where so many of Kia’s cars are now among the sharpest-suited in their classes and unafraid to break with convention – Stinger, XCeed, ProCeed anyone? – the Rio is the counterpoint to all of this.

Does that make the Rio boring and all Captain Sensible? Well, yes, but that’s no bad thing when all you want is a very reliable, dependable and, well, sensible supermini. The fact it comes with a superb warranty, good engines, plenty of equipment and keen pricing is all to the good as well. In fact, all of the things the previous Rio did so well, too.

Cost-effectiveness is at the core of the Rio’s being and economy is strong, with almost every engine officially capable of more than 60mpg. Go for a diesel when buying used and the claimed figures rise upwards of 80mpg, but the real highlight is the 1.0-litre T-GDI petrol. It’s punchy, quiet and economical whether you pick it the 100PS or 120PS version.

The Rio is very easy to drive, with light, smooth controls. Around town it’s good for the most part, but the suspension does have a tendency to thump over potholes. Fortunately, things get smoother and more comfortable at higher speeds with refinement good on the motorway.

Inside, the Kia Rio is nicely finished, with sturdy build quality and a clear and intuitive layout. The centre stack features a responsive 5.0-inch touchscreen system if you skip the basic ‘1’ trim level, while the dials are simple and easy to read. There’s plenty of adjustment in the driver’s seat too.

Kia has also attempted to spritz up the Rio a bit with the GT Line trim that arrived in early 2018 and then the GT Line S. The GT Line comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, gloss black and chrome snout that Kia refers to as a ‘tiger nose’ and LED front lights. Okay, so it’s no hot hatch to take on the Ford Fiesta ST, but the GT Line does add a modicum of pizzazz to what is, we’ll grant you, a very worthy but somewhat dull line-up.

As small hatchbacks go, practicality is good. There’s enough space in the back for a couple of adults, with surprising levels of hat room and - unless there are tall occupants up front - decent leg room too. The boot is sizeable with 325 litres of capacity, beating the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo.

It might not have the all-round classiness and capability of the SEAT Ibiza or Volkswagen Polo, or the dynamic sparkle of the Ford Fiesta, but the Rio is a very capable hatchback that does everything well enough. Factor in the seven-year warranty and it's a sound buy.

Looking for a second opinion? Check out heycar's review of the Kia Rio.

Ask Honest John

Can you recommend a small automatic for motorway driving?

"I want to buy a five-door small automatic car to commute to work and should last for another 10 years or so with an average miles of around 12,000 miles a year. Most of the driving is on motorway. "
We don't know your budget so we can't be very specific. Assuming you want something three years old or less, we'd be looking at things like a DSG-equipped VW Polo or a Peugeot 208/Vauxhall Corsa EAT8. If reliability matters most check out the CVT Honda Jazz (or the newest hybrid one), the latest Toyota Yaris Hybrid and the Kia Rio automatic - the Kia has a seven-year warranty.
Answered by Lawrence Allan

Can I use an independent garage for my car's first service?

"I have a Kia Rio GT Line, which is due for its first service. I would like to hear your thoughts on whether I should go to the main dealer, which is quite a long way from my house, or my local garage (just down the road) which I 100% trust. Thank you."
You can use your local garage, but they must use approved parts and fluids to maintain Kia's seven-year warranty. The garage will need to prove it has carried out the service to the required standard by providing an itemised invoice. If you do decide to use an independent garage, it's also important to note that your car may miss out on important mechanical and software updates (which are sometimes applied as part of the car's dealer service).
Answered by Dan Powell

Should I swap my Vauxhall Corsa for a Kia Rio?

"I currently have a 2010 Vauxhall Corsa. Although it's a really slow car, I've liked it as it's roomy inside and feels solid and safe. It's just passed its MOT but urgently needs 2 new tyres and, at some point, new brake pads. I had to have the timing chain replaced last year, which wasn't cheap and a few other things - so I was looking at a new car. A few people said to get a Kia and I've seen a 2017 Kia Rio for £8999 - but I don't know if that's a good price/good car. The Kia Sportage looks a good car but I don't really need such a big vehicle and would need to get an older model to afford one. What do you think? Thanks."
The Kia Rio's a good little car. It'll be a bit more spacious than your Corsa and, as you've said, will come with a lengthy amount of warranty remaining (provided it's been serviced correctly). Also consider the very similar Hyundai i20 or, if practicality's important, a Honda Jazz is also a good choice. The Kia Sportage is a great car but, as you say, quite a bit bigger than your Corsa or a Kia Rio. If a slightly bigger crossover vehicle appeals, consider a Suzuki Vitara. It's a bit smaller than a Sportage and will be very reliable and cheap to run.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Do I need to let the engine idle after a long journey?

"I have a Kia Rio that has a turbocharged engine. I was always told that after a long journey you must keep the engine running for a minute or two (in order to allow the turbo to cool down). Is this still the case?"
It used to be good practice to leave a turbo engine running on idle for few minutes after hard use to let its lubricant cool down – could burn otherwise, shortening the life of the bearings. Most modern turbos' engine management systems will cool the turbo with a fan if it's needed, irrespective of whether you leave the car running or not. I suspect this'll be true of the Kia, but it's worth asking an engineer at the dealership just to be sure.
Answered by Russell Campbell
More Questions

What does a Kia Rio cost?