2006 Kia Rio
2006 Kia Rio. Click image to enlarge

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By Chris Chase; photos by Paul Williams

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2006 Kia Rio

The second generation Kia Rio was introduced in 2006, a much improved model that shared much of its make-up with a redesigned Hyundai Accent introduced the same year.

The Rio was powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine making 110 horsepower and 107 lb.-ft. of torque; transmission choices were the base five-speed manual and an optional four-speed automatic. Both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback (called Rio5) were offered. The main difference between the Rio and Accent was that the Accent’s hatchback was a three-door, added to the line in 2007.

Early on, certain models were notable for their four-wheel disc brakes, a rare feature in compact cars, never mind among the subcompacts the Rio was price-competitive with. The rear discs were dropped in 2008, however, replaced with more common drum-type rear brakes.

2006 Kia Rio
2006 Kia Rio. Click image to enlarge

The 2010 Rio got some cosmetic updates, including a new grille, new wheel designs and a new steering wheel. Kia added its “Eco-Minder” indicator to automatic models, and cars with the manual transmission got an upshift indicator light.

In 2006, fuel consumption ratings were 7.4/6.2 L/100 km (city/highway) with the manual transmission, and 8.1/5.7 with the automatic. Those figures improved slightly in 2009, and again in 2010, to 7.1/5.8 L/100 km with the manual and 7.5/5.6 in automatic cars.

Consumer Reports (CR) offers nada on the Rio’s reliability, the lack of information probably related to relatively low sales volume. The Accent was a better seller, and the cars’ mechanical similarities mean that CR’s Accent reliability data, while still not what I’d call plentiful, is applicable to the Kia.

One flaw the Rio inherited from Hyundai is a fauly sensor in the automatic transmission that most often causes rough shifting, but can lead to a loss of drive altogether.

Many owners report having to replace the battery in the first two or three years of ownership, due to it no longer holding a charge, problems in starting the car and other electrical system faults.

2006 Kia Rio
2006 Kia Rio. Click image to enlarge

CR notes problems with door latch hardware, frequent check engine lights triggered by emission control system faults, and bad brake light switches.

This thread at Kia-Forums.com discusses a technical service bulletin (TSB) related to a rough engine idle when the car is cold.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Rio an “acceptable” rating in its frontal offset crash test due to a high likelihood of lower leg injury to the driver. The IIHS side impact test revealed a good chance of rib fractures or internal organ injuries to the driver, while indicating a possibility of pelvis fracture for a rear seat passenger. That result netted the Rio a “poor” rating in side impact safety.

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