NEW FOR 2009:

– Dual seat height adjuster changes to single seat height adjuster
– Ashtray and lighter deleted
– Exterior colours: Polar Blue and Cashmere Beige added

For 2009, the Kia Rio and Rio5 are unchanged, save for minor deletions.

A sister car to the Hyundai Accent, the Rio is available as a four-door sedan or as the Rio5 four-door hatchback. All models use a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed standard transmission or optional four-speed automatic, which is an additional $1,150 in all but the Sport, where it’s $1,160. Trim lines for the Rio are the EX and EX-Convenience; the Rio5 comes as the EX, EX-Convenience and EX-Sport.

Features on the EX models include 14-inch steel wheels, CD/MP3/WMV stereo with auxiliary input and USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, tilt wheel, manual remote mirrors, front and rear mud guards, variable intermittent wipers, digital clock, floor mats, cloth seats, and 60/40 split-folding rear seat. The Rio5 includes a fixed intermittent rear washer/wiper.

The EX-Convenience adds air conditioning, power locks with keyless entry, power windows, heated power mirrors, and heated cloth seats.

The Sport adds 15-inch alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, side and curtain airbags, two additional speakers, fog lamps, rear spoiler, power sunroof, metal grain interior trim, black and red sport cloth seats, leather-wrapped wheel, and metal pedal covers.

Inexpensive but well-done for its price-tag, the Rio features a small but peppy engine, fairly sharp handling, and a roomy interior. It would be nice if the anti-lock brakes and extra airbags could be added to the lower trim lines, though; those who prefer a sedan can’t have these important safety features. A long warranty helps make this model a low-buck winner.

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