Review and photos by Steven Bochenek
2013 Kia Rio
Full disclosure: two years ago we purchased a used 2006 Kia Rio, a second family vehicle, primarily for our daughters to learn on and drive themselves to their sundry engagements. It’s a four-door automatic, completely different from this five-door hatchback with standard transmission. Indeed, as soon as I saw the 2013 Rio 5-door SX, I knew it was nothing like our second car.
(Fuller disclosure: I love small cars but didn’t want this second vehicle. However if you’ve read my column much, you’ve seen me quote how women make the majority of the average middle-class households’ automobile purchase decisions. Enough said.)
The week I tested it featured world-class inclement weather. It opened with one of those freak winter storms you see on the news that stymies snowbound Texans on their old all-season radials before carrying all the Gulf of Mexico’s remaining moisture up here to wallop us. However, by the time it did dumped on us, the gale had warmed and turned into alternate lashings of cold, heavy rain and falling slush. The following day, a flash-freeze turned the GTA into a vast knotted skating rink. It has yet to melt.
2013 Kia Rio. Click image to enlarge
The result was seven days of extreme testing conditions.
Riding on 17-inch snow tires, I had no slippage ever. That is, until I depressed the anti-skid button, conveniently located close to the wheel. (Mind, in this category of diminutives, everything is close to the driver, conveniently or not.) Then we enjoyed some big hard turns in a deserted parking lot.
But more on the drive later. The first and primary reason you’d buy this car is the sheer value. Kia’s going for the jugular of its competitors and punching above its class by offering as standards some luxuries you still have to purchase optionally on cars nearly twice its price.
Typically in this category, you don’t get to bask in the bling, so let’s review them.
First, the leather steering wheel feels good to grip. Much better though, it’s heated and is deliciously warm within a minute of being switched on. The seats are leather throughout, too, the front ones heated – not the highest quality leather, but superior to, and easier to clean, than cloth. Toasted fingers and bottoms in the depths of a harsh winter deserve an entry in The Book of Awesome.
When the warmer weather returns, you’ll be pleased to know that the power sunroof comes standard too with this trim line, as does a mini fridge. You flick a switch in the ‘cooled glove compartment’ while the air conditioning is on to cool your drink, sandwich and presumably owner’s manual.