2012 Kia Rio EX Sedan
2012 Kia Rio EX Sedan. Click image to enlarge

Test Drive: 2012 Kia Rio5 LX+
Second Opinion: 2012 Kia Rio5 LX+
DBDR: 2012 Kia Rio EX sedan

Manufacturer’s website
Kia Canada

Review and photos by Chris Chase

Photo Gallery:
2012 Kia Rio EX sedan

The third-generation Kia Rio arrived first as a hatchback in 2011, and was joined about a year later by a sedan, which seemed like a strange move: little cars of all shapes do well in Canada, but more people seem to buy sedans, perhaps because they tend to be priced as the true entry-level model in many cases.

Whatever Kia’s reason for which car came first, the sedan is here now, and creates a bit of a conundrum for me. I normally have an easy time choosing a favourite, looks-wise, between sedan and hatch versions of a small car, but not here. If I may be so subjective, I think the Rio is the best-looking subcompact in showrooms now, regardless of body style. This is yet another Kia drawn up by former Audi designer Peter Schreyer, and it’s my favourite of the current Kia line. Considering how much I like little cars (subcompacts and compacts are my favourite type of car, in fact), that’s an awfully nice thing to be able to say about something with a starting price of $13,895 (for a 2013 model; the 2012 sedan’s starting price was $100 less than that).

2012 Kia Rio EX Sedan
2012 Kia Rio EX Sedan
2012 Kia Rio EX Sedan. Click image to enlarge

My tester was a 2012 EX sedan with manual transmission. Standard kit includes 16-inch wheels, sunroof, tilt-and-telescopic steering (the next-step-down LX’s wheel only tilts), leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter, metal-grain interior trim, UVO voice-activated six-speaker stereo and communications system, automatic headlights and rear-view camera. Standard stuff carried up from the LX+ model includes air conditioning, fog lights, heated front seats, cruise control, keyless entry and Bluetooth connectivity.

As a 2012 model, my EX tester was priced at $17,195; the equivalent 2013’s MSRP is $17,395. As of publication time, 2013 incentives include a cash purchase price of $16,529, zero percent financing for 60 months plus $500 cash back, and a 0.9 percent lease rate. There may be additional deals to be had on leftover 2012 models.

Major news for 2013 includes an LX+ Eco model that is the first subcompact in North America to come with idle stop/start technology, which shuts off the engine when the car is stopped.

If I were to guess, I’d suggest that subcompact car shoppers choose manual transmissions almost as often as those who buy entry-level sports cars and sport sedans. For some, it’s a matter of economics – the $1,200 charge for the Rio’s six-speed automatic is a significant percentage of the total purchase price in a sub-$20,000 car – and for others, it has to do with getting the most performance out of a small car’s small engine.

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