Kia is banking on the practical side of American drivers with its all-new 2018 Rio. The automaker rolled out the fourth-generation of its four-door compact sedan along with a five-door hatchback version at this year’s New York Auto Show.
The Rio is a smaller Optima. It grows about half an inch in wheelbase and overall length over the outgoing version. It’s also a hair wider and shorter. Those might not seem like big enough changes to make any real difference. However, Kia assures that the legroom in the rear is noticeably better. It even goes so far as to say it offers the roomiest cabin in its subcompact class.
Kia also says the new Rio handles better. A new suspension geometry combines with the lower and wider stance for a more athletic ride. Meanwhile, better dampers and springs improve overall comfort.
Noticeable exterior changes are seen in the front fascia. There the headlights sweep back further on a sportier signature tiger nose grille. It also sheds some weight. But don’t worry, it makes up for it with plenty of noise damping.
Inside the cabin gets some big improvements with better materials, fit and finish. It also comes with new seats. The lines focus on showing off the wider look. Therefore the dash uses a very horizontal and straightforward, almost retro, feeling lines. Top level trims will offer a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto. Kia also upped the safety factor by offering Autonomous Emergency Braking.
One thing that stays the same is the 1.6-liter inline four engine. It’s mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Retuning gives it 130-horsepower with 119 lb-ft of torque.While those are lower than the current model, it does offer better fuel economy. Also, considering the model is lighter and lower, it might not need as much power to actually give more. Exact EPA ratings are not yet out.