- 2020 Kia Rio starts at $15,580 in the United States, $15,495 in Canada.
- Sophisticated good looks, appreciable fit and finish, fuel-efficient powertrain.
- Cargo space could be better, poor rearward visibility, base trims don’t get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The subcompact car segment is shrinking fast, and soon, consumers won’t have many affordable, fuel-mising vehicles to choose from. Obviously, not everyone wants to be seen in a no-frills, point-A-to-point-B car, but the 2020 Kia Rio is far from being cheap.
Rivalling the Hyundai Accent, the Mitsubishi Mirage, the Chevrolet Spark, the Chevrolet Sonic (in the U.S.), the Nissan Versa, the Honda Fit (which might not live past 2020 in the U.S. and Canada) as well as the Toyota Yaris (which will definitely not live past 2020), the Rio offers the brand’s traditional bang-for-the-bang quotient with features we don’t normally expect to find at its price point.
Available as a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback, the 2020 Kia Rio is equipped with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine that develops 120 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque. In Canada, a six-speed manual transmission is still offered on the base LX and LX+ trims of the Rio 5-Door, but the Canadian-spec sedan and all Rio models in the U.S. get a continuously variable automatic, or what Kia calls its Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT).
The smaller—and much less powerful—Mirage as well as the Fit beat out the 2020 Kia Rio in terms of fuel economy, but not by much. With the IVT, the Korean subcompact boasts city/highway/combined ratings of 33/41/36 mpg in the U.S., and 7.2/5.9/6.6 L/100 km in Canada. That’s not bad at all for a non-hybrid car.
The U.S. market gets the Rio LX and S trims in the case of the sedan. The first one features air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, automatic headlights, 15-inch wheels as well as a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The second adds more paint colour choices, keyless entry, a front centre console with sliding armrest and a 60/40 split-folding rear seatback, while a Technology package brings pre-collision warning, LED headlights, a trip computer and UVO eServices, among other things.
U.S. pricing for the 2020 Kia Rio is as follows:
Rio LX Sedan: $15,850
Rio S Sedan: $16,490
Rio S Sedan with Technology package: $17,290
Rio S 5-Door: $16,790
Rio S 5-Door with Technology package: $17,590
Freight and delivery charges: $965
Up in Canada, the Rio LX 5-Door includes 15-inch wheels, automatic headlights, heated front seats, a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, keyless entry and a five-inch infotainment touchscreen. The LX+ adds cruise control and A/C, while the EX features a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, a power sunroof, 15-inch alloy wheels, leatherette upholstery, automatic climate control, UVO Intelligence connected car services and a smart key with push-button start. The EX Sport 5-Door piles on 17-inch alloy wheels, alloy pedals, LED taillights and rain-sensing wipers. The Canadian-spec Rio sedan is available in LX+ and EX trim levels.
Canadian pricing for the 2020 Kia Rio is as follows:
Rio LX 5-Door manual: $15,495
Rio LX+ 5-Door manual: $16,995
Rio LX+ 5-Door automatic: $18,245
Rio EX 5-Door: $21,145
Rio EX Sport 5-Door: $22,245
Rio LX+ Sedan: $18,045
Rio EX Sedan: $20,945
Freight and delivery charges: $1,595
What the 2020 Kia Rio Does Well
- It looks good. The Rio’s exterior design is sophisticated and upscale, as if the car was part of the luxury brand’s product line.
- The Rio offers lots of features for the asking price, even more so in Canada, where it’s getting difficult to find a car with an automatic transmission and air conditioning for under $20K.
- The 2020 Kia Rio’s serves up an ergonomic instrument panel and dashboard, along with good-quality materials.
- Kia’s UVO infotainment interface is easy to use, even while driving—especially if we choose the seven-inch touchscreen.
What the 2020 Kia Rio Doesn’t Do Well
- The Rio 5-Door’s rear window is small, so rearward visibility isn’t all that great. The wiper doesn’t wipe a very wide portion of the window, so in slushy winter conditions, it just gets worse.
- Compared to other subcompacts such as the Fit and the Versa, the 2020 Kia Rio isn’t all that spacious inside. Rear-seat legroom is particularly lacking.
- While cargo space is adequate in the sedan, the 5-Door’s cargo area isn’t very generous.
- While the infotainment system works great, the base trim levels must make do with a five-inch screen and no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Meanwhile, the Spark offers a comprehensive, feature-packed system across the board.
What We Tell Our Friends
The 2020 Kia Rio is a stylish little car that’s fairly fun to drive, fuel-efficient and built with quality materials. It’s not as spacious and practical as the Honda Fit, not as refined as a slightly more expensive Kia Forte, and on less and less shopping lists as consumers are flocking to crossovers like the redesigned 2020 Kia Soul and all-new 2021 Kia Seltos.
What we can say is that the Rio seems more competitive for the Canadian market, with a wider range of standard and available features for the asking price.