Kia Rio Review

Gumtree Rating

4.5 rating

Launched in 2001, the Kia Rio small hatchback is now in its fourth iteration, and its journey follows the rise of Kia as a respected manufacturer of stylish cars. The 2011 offering was a cut above what had come before, but the car that launched in 2017 is the most handsome yet. Regardless of model year though, the Rio is a practical, trustworthy and good value alternative to some of the more familiar choices, like the Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo.

Visit the Kia Rio model page to explore available vehicles.

What we think about the Kia Rio

If you’re looking for a small car, the Kia Rio is a good value option, but it won’t set your world alight.



Transferable, long warranty


Roomy interior and boot


Well-equipped (at 2 trim)


Unexciting to drive

Fidgety suspension

Low safety rating at base trim

We’re reviewing the 2017 Kia Rio, but earlier models are well worth a look too. Diesel is no longer an option, but there are four petrol engines. Fuel efficiency across the range stays at around and above 40 mpg, and trim levels are simply 1, 2 and 3, plus the sporty GT-Line (S).

Driving performance of the Kia Rio

Our Driving Rating8 / 10

Nobody could call the Rio exciting to drive, but the handling feels controlled and surefooted. That’s helped by a slightly firm ride which, particularly at lower speeds, can be a little jarring. Sticking to smaller alloys will help to improve ride quality though. Steering feels firm, while still less responsive than the Ford Fiesta. That said, a fairly tight turning circle means nipping through busy streets and into parking spaces shouldn’t be an issue.

Safety and reliability of the Kia Rio

Our Safety Rating8 / 10

The Kia Rio received a full five-star rating from Euro NCAP in 2017, but only with the optional Safety Pack fitted. Without this, it scored a rather mediocre three stars. Better news is that all trims other than 1 have this equipment as standard, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) – which uses sensors to apply the brakes automatically. Reliability wise, Kia has a very good reputation in this regard, and backs its cars with a seven-year warranty that can be passed to subsequent owners.

Under the bonnet of the Kia Rio

Our Engine Rating8 / 10

Following the dropping of a diesel option, there are now four petrol engines to choose from, starting with an 82 bhp 1.25-litre that comes with a smooth, five-speed gearbox. It’s well suited to round town, but for anything further, you’ll likely want the turbocharged 1.0-litre that (despite the smaller size) outputs either 97 or 116 hp. 0-60 mph times are around ten seconds for both, and both can also be spec’d with a six-speed manual or automatic ‘box.

What you'll find in the Kia Rio

Our Design Rating7 / 10

The design of the Rio isn’t going to set hearts ablaze, but it is the most attractive version of the car to date. The front end is a particular standout, squatting low with sloping headlights and Kia’s trademark tiger nose grill. Elsewhere, the styling is more predictable though. The relatively recent GT-Line and GT-Line S trims add some sporty snazziness, but won’t be pulling driving enthusiasts away from the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST.

Comfort and interiors in the Kia Rio

Our Comfort Rating8 / 10

The interior of the Rio feels modern and pleasant, and the materials generally feel solid – but at lower trim levels, a little hard to the touch. With plenty of adjustment in the driver’s seat, getting comfortable shouldn’t be a problem. The Kia is roomy too, and four adults can sit with relative ease, enjoying surprisingly good legroom and headroom. The boot is also one of the best in class at a respectable 325 litres – perfect for loading up the shopping.

kia rio interior dashboard

What features you'll find in the Kia Rio

Our Features Rating8 / 10

Rear parking sensors and a reversing camera are standard on all but 1-trim Rios. The infotainment system is intuitive and comes with a seven-inch touchscreen that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; again, that is unless you go for the 1 trim, in which case you’ll have to make do with a monochrome 3.8-inch display. The recurring theme with the Rio, and not just when it comes to features, is this: trim 2 is really the base level to go for.

What fuel efficiency to expect from the Kia Rio

Our Fuel Consumption Rating8 / 10

Fuel efficiency is unlikely to be a deciding factor when choosing which Kia Rio to go for, since the differences are not huge across the range. The best economy can be had from the 97 bhp 1.0-litre engine (up to 48.7 mpg), and this variant is also a punchy performer. Of course, on the used market, you can still pick up a diesel, and the 77 bhp 1.4-litre one will get you over 80 mpg.

Running costs of the Kia Rio

Our Cost Rating8 / 10

The Rio has always been about value, and getting hold of a competitively-priced used one shouldn’t be too difficult. Respectable fuel-efficiency and reasonable servicing costs should make running it inexpensive as well. Also in the Rio’s favour is Kia’s superb 7-year / 100,000-mile warranty, which is far beyond that of its competitors. Plus, there’s its excellent reputation for reliability, which is likely to keep repair costs down for the majority of owners. If you’re looking for an affordable option, you won’t go wrong with the Rio.

Our verdict of the Kia Rio

4.5 rating

4.5 / 5 Gumtree rating

If you like the look of the Rio and the promise of reliability, it could make a good value alternative to more mainstream options.