A well built subcompact that is fun to drive
When I first bought the car, a piece of trim on the roof right above the drivers side door was a bit loose. It wasn't a major piece, but it was still annoying. It took several trips to the dealership to get it glued on correctly.
One of the lug nut caps on the wheel cover wasn't put on tightly after a tire rotation, causing it to fly off somewhere. The dealership said it wasn't their fault and it cost me over $30 for the new cap.
I have always been anti-new car, but since all of my older used cars kept on dying, I decided to get a cheap new car with a warranty for the peace of mind. I also wanted to buy a manual transmission car, since they are more fun to drive. I did not regret my decision.
I had been researching new cars for a while before I started shopping for one, and had decided that a Hyundai would be a good value. First I test drove an Elantra, and while I liked it, it was a bit out of my price range. I then drove a hatchback Accent, and wasn't too impressed. It felt like I was in a golf cart and the engine seemed too sensitive on the throttle.
I then went to a different dealership to look at Kia's. I drove the Rio and was very impressed. It felt like it rode the same as the Elantra, and didn't feel any less powerful, even though the Elantra had a bigger motor. I was also surprised that the drive train was the same as the Accent that I didn't particularly care for.
The car is a blast to drive with the 5 speed, but one needs to get the motor into the power band to have a lot of fun. With the VVT, the motor really comes alive above 3500rpm. Everyone that rides in the car is surprised at how peppy the motor is, and is even more amazed when I tell them it is only a 1.6l.
Even with a heavy foot, my gas mileage is great. Purely city I get about 28mpg, and on the interstate I get 34-38, depending on whether the great AC is on or not. This is after I installed a K&N air filter, which added about 1-2mpg.
Some complain that 5th gear needs to be steeper, since it cruises at 70mph at about 3500rpm. However, this isn't as bad as it seems. I had the dealer install an aftermarket cruise control system (cruise wasn't available for the Rio) and because it revs so high, it is closer to the torque peak on the motor. Driving through the hills of southern Tennessee on my way to 'Bama I kept the cruise on and had enough torque to stay at the set mph.
The interior is roomy, and actually has a bigger interior than a Toyota Corolla. It is a little cramped in the back though, but I have short stubby legs, which helps with a car full of people.
The seats get a little uncomfortable after 2-3 hours on the road, but it's not unbearable. I've taken an 8 hour road trip and survived.
The stereo system is great for stock. My in-laws are music buffs, and they always compliment how great it sounds.
There are only a few gripes I have with the car. There is a definate lack of storage compartments, but the glove box can hold a lot more than it looks like it can. Also, I think that the sun visor is too close to my face when I need to flip it to the side. On the other hand, though, the visors can slide on their support, and a Camry I rented recently didn't even have this feature. The plastics of the interior get scratched easily. It has a timing belt, which will have to be replaced periodically, adding to the upkeep costs. The shifter is a little clunky, and can be hard to shift into 2nd sometimes.
Overall, I am very happy with my purchase, especially now that gas has skyrocketed. I was so happy that I bought my wife an Optima, since we received an owners loyalty discount. I just hope the Optima is just as reliable as my Rio has been.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 3rd July, 2008