2003 Kia Rio RXV from North America


Simply put... great car for the money with a lot of unexpected features


To date, the only problems I had with this have been minor new car glitches.

My left turn signal and passenger side door latch were a little sticky at first, but not anything that a little spray of WD40 wouldn't fix.

General Comments:

My first Kia was a 2001 Rio RS that I purchased in the 2000 season. I didn't plan to, but I ended up racking over 100,000kms on it within 2 years. I unfortunately didn't have great luck with the car (but it was largely due to the dealership that I purchased it from). Once I identified this problem, I switched dealerships and it was smooth sailing from that point forward. However, because it was the first production year of the vehicle, there were a few little details I would've that couldn't have been thought out better.

I purchased a my new Rio RX-V Convenience about 1.5 months ago now and I absolutely love it! It looks great (I got the Rally Blue colour), it handles better (larger rims and the slightly more powerful engine is noticeable), but the most important difference for me was that everything I didn't like about my first Rio was changed in my new one. It was like the engineers/designers listened to feedback to produce a truly well thoughout vehicle - for a great price!

First off, the additional space of the wagon was greatly appreciated for packing gear (I wished the 60/40 rear folding seats lay flat when folded, but that's a little thing).

I like the little details like usable cup holders (in the doors too!), heated side-view mirrors, sunglasses storage compartment, fog-lamps and my favorite - adjustable lumbar support. I found this feature after 3 weeks of driving. Small things... but things you would expect with a vehicle in this class.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th March, 2003

2003 Kia Rio RX-V 1.6L from North America


More car than you'd expect for this much money!


Absolutely nothing.

General Comments:

The Rio RX-V for 2003 is about as sweet as a compact hatchback/wagon/whatever they've deemed this thing can get in appearance, cost to buy, and cost to drive!

The handling is excellent - even in 6 inches of snow and on icy roads, it stays straight and goes where you want it to without sliding around.

It is peppy off the line and has plenty of power to climb the hills of the Canadian Shield.

The seats up front are very comfortable whether it's for a short drive around town or a long highway trip. I haven't spent any time in the back seats, but I have been in the back of an LS and there is JUST enough headroom for a 6-footer. The foot room behind the front seats isn't the best if the driver/front passenger have their seats all the way back, but if they're willing to slide up a little, it's not that bad.

In the RX-V, the big advantage is the room the rear hatch offers over the trunk of the sedan. And with the standard package tray cover, it keeps your cargo out of sight too.

These are a fabulous car for the money in my opinion. They aren't a BMW, but if that's what you're expecting, don't buy this car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st February, 2003

2003 Kia Rio Base 1.6L from North America


Very Satisfied With Rio!


A running lamp went out shortly after delivery. I replaced it myself rather than bother with dealer.

Noticed excessive free play in clutch and adjusted myself after delivery. Easy to do without tools!

General Comments:

This is a follow-up to a review written a few months ago. (Base Model North America, 203 words)

Additional Pluses:

My Rio has a total of just over 2000 miles over a period of 4 months. While the miles are low this reflects driving to and from work (2.4 miles round trip) every day and a number of longer trips.

Mileage has been good at 28-32 highway and 22-26 city during winter. Experience says that should improve 10-20% during warmer weather.

Being Winter on the shores of Lake Superior this means cold weather. So far this car starts with the slightest touch of the key at below zero temperatures.

It drives well on snow and ice even when there are strong winds. I was worried about this after reading reviews of earlier Rios. KIA says they improved the anti-sway bar and front suspension for 2003. Handling has not been much of a problem except for 35-50 mph side gusts on exposed bridges.

When driving it is easy to forget I am in a very small car. It FEELS bigger than other small cars I have owned. It is hard to notice the difference between 55 and 80 mph without looking at the speedometer. Naturally, since this is a small car rough roads occasionally remind you that it has a short wheelbase.

The drivers seat is comfy for short trips and fair on longer ones. Lack of cruise control on my base model results in a cramped leg on occasion, but then I have fancier vehicles to take cross-country on trips if needed.

I have not detected any oil usage or any other mechanical variation from new condition whatsoever.


Some things are not ideal, the clutch is light and while easy to use it is sometimes difficult feel engage. Combine this with an engine which needs a few rpm to generate adequate torque and it adds up to an occasional stall taking off. This is only a problem if you want to creep off, never when going for a definite launch into traffic.

The non-power steering is fine for me, but others may need assist for hard, low speed turns.

Room: After coaching all day I drove from our contest to meet my wife at a social function. It was a lot harder to change into a suit in this car than it would have been in my VW camper. This car is not recommended for that purpose.

Summary at 4 months: Love to drive this car, sports car feel, fairly comfortable, well put together, full of features for a base model car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th February, 2003

12th Mar 2004, 22:15

I am the original writer and still have the Rio with 10,300 miles on it now. No problems, still love to drive this car. By my experience KIAs are good values. George.