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2020 Kia Rio Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

2020 Kia Rio Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: LX vs S

What 2020 Kia Rio Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

'Small but mighty' is one of the best ways to describe the 2020 Kia Rio. In the past, Kias were viewed as bland economy vehicles with little spunk and pizzazz. That is obviously not the case anymore. Sure, the new Rio has a starting MSRP of under $16,000, but that does not make it basic.

In fact, the Rio has one of the more refined ride qualities in its class. It handles all kinds of twists and turns with ease and has a look of sophistication that rivals some of its higher-priced competitors. This subcompact is definitely worthy of your attention and will likely break you of any biases you might have when it comes to economy cars.

But which of the Kia Rio's trim levels might be the best fit for you? Is there one that gives you the best overall deal? Is the base trim too bare-bones? Read on through to the end of this trim level comparison review, and you will find out which 2020 Kia Rio trim level we think will give you the most bang for your buck.

Take note: The Rio only has two trim levels, the LX and S. The S does come as a hatchback or a sedan while the LX is only a sedan. While you might think this would make for a short review, it won't! We will be taking an in-depth look at how these two trim levels stack up against each other.

Price Tip
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Compare the 2020 Kia Rio LX vs S Trims. What is the difference?

You can only choose between two trim levels on the 2020 Kia Rio: The base LX and the S. With a price difference of less than $1,000 (as a starting MSRP), you might think that there could not be too many differences between these two trim levels. You might be a bit surprised to learn that the S equips a good amount of extra features.

That being said, let us dive right in and explore the LX trim level first. It comes in your choice of three different exterior body paint colors and one interior color. It has 5.5 inches of ground clearance, so, yes, this subcompact does sit pretty low to the ground, as is to be expected for a vehicle in this class. The 106.1-inch wheelbase also keeps in line with the size of a subcompact. As you can probably already envision, this means the rear seat is going to be a bit cramped for longer-legged folks.

So, what is under the hood? The 2020 Kia Rio gets a new powertrain this model year. Kia swapped out the former 1.6-L (which got 130 hp and 119 lb-ft of torque) for a new 1.6-L that gets 120 hp. The downgrade in power was a trade-off for an upgrade in fuel efficiency. The old 6-speed automatic transmission has been replaced by a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which aids in the improved fuel economy. EPA estimates give the Rio 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. Not a bad trade-off if you're looking to save at the pump.

Otherwise, the Rio's mechanical bits are the same as they were last model year. The MacPherson front struts, stabilizer bar, and gas shock absorbers make up the front suspension system while the rear has a coupled torsion beam axle and twin tube shock absorbers. Front-wheel drive comes standard; there is no option for all-wheel drive.

On the outside of the LX, you will find that it rides atop 15-inch wheels with full covers. The LX has automatic light controls, body-colored exterior door handles, and two body-colored power heated side mirrors. The front grille comes with black mesh, and halogen headlights will guide you along on dark roadways. The rear glass is heated and has a timer. There is also a locking fuel filler door, solar control glass, a space-saving spare tire, and variable intermittent windshield wipers.

The inside of the LX is just as important as the outside, perhaps even more so. And the cabin does not disappoint. The LX is equipped with one 12-volt power outlet and a 4-speaker sound system. A 7-inch touchscreen display accompanies the infotainment system, replacing last model year's tiny 5-inch screen. Smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto comes standard, which is also new for the LX this model year. It is a bold move in the right direction for Kia since this is something many drivers want in their vehicles now.

Other standard features you will find inside of the LX's cabin include air conditioning, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, a day and night rear view mirror, two cup holders in the front, two map lights overhead, two sun visors with vanity mirrors, door map pockets with bottle holders in the front and rear, an illuminated glove box, an overhead sunglasses holder, and a rear view camera. The doors and windows are both power operated, and the driver's window has one-touch auto-down on it. Audio controls are mounted onto the steering wheel for easy access by the driver. Unfortunately, the steering column is tilt only. Telescoping would give it a broader range of motion, thereby making it easier for the driver to find a comfortable driving position.

Rounding out the interior features on the LX are a trunk net, a trip computer, a USB/auxiliary input jack, seats trimmed in tricot and woven cloth, a 6-way adjustable driver's seat, and front seat belt anchors that are height-adjustable.

Those standard infotainment and comfort and convenience features are all well and good, but what about safety features? Can a base trim like the LX really have what buyers are looking for?

Here is what the LX does have for safety features. It comes with 3-point seat belts for all seating positions, an anti-lock braking system, two advanced front air bags, electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability control, pretensioners on the front seat-belts, front and rear crumple zones, full-length side curtain air bags, and hill start assist control. You will also get an easy-to-access LATCH system for child car safety seats, child safety door locks for the rear doors, side impact door beams, a tire pressure monitoring system, and vehicle stability management.

It is pertinent to mention Kia's warranty here. It is truly a generous one and is a best-in-class warranty at that. Kia offers buyers a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty program, which doubles what you might get on some of its competitors. This is just one more way that Kia is upping the ante and showing that they care about their customers.

Also, take note that the LX does not really get any optional features. The standard array is pretty straight-forward, which will leave you very little room for customizing your vehicle. If you want more control over add-ons, you will have to spend more to get more and go for the S trim level.

Of course, that brings us to the S. What makes this vehicle worth about a grand or so more than the base LX? Quite a few things, actually.

For starters, there is the addition of three body paint color options. You get a beautiful dark blue, sporty red, and medium gray to choose from in addition to the standard white, black, and silver. You also get two different interior trim options to choose from, both of which look chic and contemporary inside of the S trim.

Like the LX, the S comes with 15-inch wheels, body-colored door handles and heated side mirrors, and halogen headlights. However, options for LED headlights and positioning lights open up on the S trim level. The benefit of picking LED lights instead of sticking with the halogens is that LED lights tend to consume far less energy and are longer lasting. They also tend to be a bit brighter than halogen bulbs.

Aside from a second trim option, what is going on inside of the S trim? Well, it has the 12-volt power outlet, but it gets upgraded to a 6-speaker sound system with tweeters in the front of the vehicle. The 7-inch touchscreen still comes standard, as does Bluetooth and air conditioning. There is a center console with a sliding arm rest and storage bin area that gets added. Cruise control gets thrown into the mix as well, and there are controls for it mounted onto the steering wheel with the audio controls. Forward collision warning and forward collision avoidance assist are optional on the S trim and are not available on the LX.

Additional standard features on the S include remote keyless entry with a trunk opener and alarm system and Siri Eyes Free. Siri Eyes Free lets you use voice control through Siri by holding a button down for a few extra seconds. It is easy to use and is something a lot of drivers who've tried it found they enjoy utilizing. There is also an option for a supervision meter cluster with a 3.5-inch display. UVO eServices can be equipped with the 7-inch infotainment display if you wish to have SiriusXM Satellite Radio capabilities on your vehicle.

All of the standard safety features that you get on the LX also come on the S. The S does not add anything else that is standard. Features like blind spot monitoring are not available at all, which is one of the downsides to getting the 2020 Kia Rio. A few extra driver aids on the S trim level would really give the Kia Rio a huge advantage over the competition.

Buying Tip: To avoid overpaying on a new car, shop prices online first. Get up front pricing before you walk into a dealership. We recommend the following free services; Car Clearance Deals, NADAguides, CarsDirect & Motortrend.
These free services will offer you the lowest prices and supply you with multiple competing price quotes. You will know the best price before you visit the dealer.

Which Trim to Choose?

Having only two trim levels to choose from does make selecting the right Rio pretty easy. And our pick for the 2020 Kia Rio trim level to buy is, of course, the S trim. The S does not cost that much more than the base LX trim level, and it adds just enough to warrant buying over the LX. Sure, the LX is decently equipped for a base trim on an economy sedan, but the S gives you more for a great price.

And with a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty on top of an improved fuel economy, who could possibly pick the LX over the S? There is a lot of value to be found in the S. Our only gripe is that it could stand to have a few more basic driver aids. But you still can equip forward collision mitigation for a relatively cheap price if you get the S. You cannot do that on the LX.

Economy vehicles might seem like they would be a dime a dozen, but Kia is stepping it up and proving this notion false. The Rio is solidly built and provides drivers with a number of god features, especially on the S trim. And being able to choose between a hatchback and sedan on the S is something that will likely attract buyers who want to get a hatch.
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Previous Kia Rio Trim Configurations:

Compare the 2019 Kia Rio Trim Levels
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