Kia completely redesigned the Rio for the 2018 model year and that work has paid off well. The 2018 Kia Rio is a far better car than it was before and is now one of the better offerings in the subcompact entry-level market.
With a price tag that stays under $19,000, even at its highest point, the Rio offers a great interior experience, one of the best on-road drive qualities you'll find in the segment, and a complete package of exceeded expectations.
One key change in the new Kia is its engine, which downgraded in peak power output but added a lower, longer power curve. This trade-off means the Rio doesn't look as good on paper, but on the road throttle responses and power delivery are smoother and more muscular. This makes the Kia feel more powerful than it really is, adding confidence and improving drivability immensely.
Also upgraded is the 2018 Rio's interior, which is much more upscale in feel and design than before. Good materials and smart use of space are key takeaways here. Add in better sound dampening, which improves the ride, and you'll find a really upscale car in the tiny-priced Kia Rio.
The 2018 Kia Rio is offered in both sedan and hatchback formats. Both have three trim levels, the LX, S and EX. A special Launch Edition package for the EX has limited availability for this model year. Our review is based on a week with the 2018 Kia Rio EX model.