First Drive:  2012 Kia Rio sedan reviews kia first drives
2012 Kia Rio sedan. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2012 Kia Rio sedan

Phoenix, Arizona – The Rio is Kia’s subcompact car, with the four-door Sedan version complementing the recently introduced Rio four-door hatch. The sedan rides on an all-new platform shared with the Hatch that is longer, lower and wider than the previous generation Rio. And like the hatch, it features styling that is more distinctive and attractive thanks to Kia’s ex-Audi Chief Designer, Peter Schreyer.

The Rio sedan and hatch are fundamentally the same vehicle, although the sedan is 320 millimetres longer than the hatch, and has a different front fascia, grille, headlamps, LED positioning lights, solar glass and available rear LED lights. Also at the rear… well, that’s pretty obvious: it has a trunk.

Choosing one Rio over the other is simply a matter of personal preference. Interior dimensions are virtually the same between the two models, although the sedan is priced slightly below the hatch.

First Drive:  2012 Kia Rio sedan reviews kia first drives
2012 Kia Rio sedan. Click image to enlarge

The 2012 Kia Rio’s opening price is $13,795 (all prices plus $1,455 freight/pdi) for the LX with manual transmission. It is equipped with a four-cylinder, gasoline direct injected (GDI) engine of 1.6-litre displacement that makes 138-horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission replaces the six-speed manual for an additional $1,300.

Also standard on the LX are 15-inch wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, tilt steering column, trip computer, map lights, power door locks, power windows, driver seat height adjustment, power and heated mirrors, satellite radio with speech recognition, auxiliary/USB inputs, steering wheel mounted audio controls, and body-coloured mirrors and door handles.

Notable are features like the four-wheel disc brakes, satellite radio, power mirrors and power windows that are rarely found on base subcompacts. Likewise, the GDI engine with its generous output is noteworthy, as is its designation as one of Ward’s Autos Ten Best engines.

Kia expects the LX+ to be the “volume seller” at $15,295. It adds air conditioning, cruise control, fog lights, heated seats, Bluetooth and keyless entry to the base package, creating a very well equipped car for the price.

First Drive:  2012 Kia Rio sedan reviews kia first drives
2012 Kia Rio sedan. Click image to enlarge

Other trim levels include a $17,395 LX Eco that maximizes fuel economy by including an idle stop/go feature that shuts down the engine at stoplights, restarting it when the driver releases the brake.

The $16,695 EX adds features like a power sunroof, auto folding mirrors and 16-inch alloy wheels, while the $17,195 EX+ adds the UVO infotainment system and rear view camera. The $20,495 EX Luxury offers many items found in larger, luxury-oriented vehicles like a heatable steering wheel, rain sensing windshield wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels with sport suspension and bigger front brakes, electronic climate control, two-tone leather upholstery, and the option of a navigation system ($1,200). Automatic is the only transmission offered with the EX Luxury.

We drove both the LX+ with manual transmission and EX Luxury with automatic. Normally I find the manual transmission versions of small cars to feel more peppy and responsive than those with an automatic, and while this version of the Rio has those attributes, the automatic model seemed equally capable.

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