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2020 Kia Rio Pros vs Cons

Why Buy a 2020 Kia Rio?
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

Are You Considering a 2020 Kia Rio? Here Are Some Reasons For and Against

Affordable and stylish, the 2020 Kia Rio is more than just an economy car. It is available as a hatchback or a sedan, so you can choose whichever style suits your needs the best. While you might think that a vehicle of this price would not have much in the way of standard technology, you would be mistaken. The Rio is well-equipped for its price. And the tech that you get is quite user-friendly. So, if you are worried that the Rio will be a cheap ride, your worries will vanish as soon as you settle into the cockpit.

What's New for 2020?

The 2020 Kia Rio gets a few important changes. First and foremost, the former 1.6-L 4-cylinder engine (which garnered 130 hp) has been swapped out for a more fuel-efficient 1.6-L engine that gets 120 hp. The 6-speed automatic transmission gets ditched in favor of a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which aids the Rio in getting a better return on fuel. Instead of the old powertrain's 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, the new powertrain gets 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. Also, each trim level now gets a standard 7-inch infotainment display and smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Ten Reasons You May Like the 2020 Kia Rio – The Pros

1. Spunky Handling Capabilities

For being a small economy vehicle, the 2020 Kia Rio has some surprisingly spunky handling capabilities. The Rio exhibits quite a lot of control after it starts to round through corners. Yes, there is some initial body roll, but the Rio manages to remain stable. There is never any doubt to be had as to what the tires are doing. This level of predictability makes the Rio stand out from a lot of its competitors.

2. Excellent Warranty Coverage

Warranties are typically minimal for economy vehicles like the Rio. However, the Rio gets a basic warranty for 5 years/60,000 miles. There is a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. This is exponentially more generous than the warranty coverage you get on competitors like the Nissan Versa. Kia is doing a great job of making economy vehicles more appealing by enhancing its warranty coverages.

3. Superb Steering

Steering on the 2020 Kia Rio is also quite good for this class. Steering resistance builds up naturally the longer you go, and the front wheels provide the driver with a surprising amount of feedback - something that is difficult to find in this segment. The only downside is that you get a lot of punch from the steering system, so you will have to make some corrections while rounding through turns. But it really is not that bad, and it certainly does not take much away from the overall secure feeling the steering system provides.

4. A Quiet Interior

All you might hear while you are driving is noise coming from the engine. Aside from that, you will hear very little from the tires, road, and wind. The wheels do a good job of absorbing bumps and other surface imperfections in the road, especially while you are driving around town. You really have to get going on the highway for any wind noise to become bothersome.

5. Easy-to-Use Climate Control

Climate control systems are a dime a dozen, and a lot of them involve some confusing digital controls. The 2020 Kia Rio gets a very straightforward system that most users will quickly adapt to. There are only three dials, and each one makes its functions perfectly clear. Aside from the somewhat slow rear de-froster, the system quickly pumps out hot or cold air.

6. Controls Are Easy to Use

Overall, controls in the Rio are easy to use. Once you have given them a try, you will nail down their functionality. Every button and knob is clearly labeled, and they are well within grasp. Drivers will not have to search too long for the control they want to use. There are physical controls for the infotainment system, so if you are not into using touchscreen controls, you do not have to. This is something a lot of drivers appreciate, and it is nice to see how much Kia cares about meeting their needs.

7. Standard Smartphone App Integration

Smartphone app integration is now standard on every 2020 Kia Rio trim level. While many competitors leave smartphone app integration off of their base trims, Kia includes it. It sure is a smart move on their part since this allows users the option of accessing their phone's apps while driving. Having Bluetooth wireless connectivity also really helps.

8. Improved Fuel Efficiency

Although the new 1.6-L engine loses 10 hp, it gains a lot more in fuel efficiency. The hit to the power output is not too outrageous either, so it seems like Kia is well on their way to finding a smart balance between power and fuel efficiency. The pairing of the engine and CVT is also a step in the right direction.

9. Plenty of Small Item Storage Areas

For being a small vehicle, you might not expect the 2020 Kia Rio to have a ton of well-designed small item storage spaces. However, it seems to have them in abundance. The cubby areas in the center console are quite handy, and there are door pockets all around that give you places to stash water bottles. Even the glovebox is considerably spacious. All in all, your small items can easily - and covertly - be stored in the Rio.

10. Voice Recognition Works Well

Voice recognition is another feature that Kia gets right and other automakers tend to struggle with. The system does not have a huge control range, unlike many of its competitors. However, the system seems to be able to understand commands well and does not get as easily confused by natural speech. You do get a lot of on-screen prompts and guides, which helps make the learning curve a lot easier. Once you've got the hang of it, the system should be able to understand shorter commands from you.

Reasons You May Not Like the 2020 Kia Rio – The Cons

1. Getting In and Out is Cramped

The 2020 Kia Rio is not the easiest vehicle to enter and exit. The roof is fairly low, which means even average-sized adults will have to duck down to enter. Head-bonking is definitely a hazard for taller folks. The rear doors have a small opening, and there is not a lot of head and legroom once you do manage to get in. Contortionists might fare well back there, but the rest of the adult population? Not so much.

2. Lacks Some Standard Equipment

The Rio is an economy car, so you should not expect it to have all the bells and whistles. However, the Rio lacks some of the standard driver aids that come on its competitors in this segment. There also are not as many active safety features available. However, you do get a forward collision mitigation system that responds when it is appropriate and does not issue too many false alarms.

3. Minimal Cargo Space

Cargo space is cramped in the 2020 Kia Rio, although this is pretty normal for its class. The wide load floor does help create space, but you will not be fitting any bulky items back there with ease. The sedan's trunk has 13.7 cubic feet of cargo space, so if you need a little bit more, opt for the hatchback and its 32.8 cubes (which is what you get when you fold the rear seats down).

4. LATCH Anchors Aren't Easy to Access

Parents, you might want to think twice about the Rio. If you have kids who need to sit in child safety seats, you need a LATCH system that is easy to access. In the Rio, the points are all tucked way back in the seat cushions. You will have to do a moderate amount of digging to get to them.

How It Stacks Up to the Competition:

2020 Kia Rio vs. 2020 Hyundai Accent

The 2020 Kia Rio is jammed into a competitive market, and the 2020 Hyundai Accent is one of its main competitors. The Accent has a cozy cabin that remains fairly muted, impeccable build quality for this class, and top-notch EPA ratings. On the downside, the Accent lacks a lot of safety aids on its lower trim levels. Also, the standard cloth upholstery makes the seats somewhat uncomfortable, and they absorb a lot of heat during the summer.

2020 Kia Rio vs. 2020 Honda Civic

The 2020 Honda Civic is the top dog in the small sedan segment (as the Honda Fit is in the hatchback, comparing well with the Rio's hatchback). The Civic does not have a well-tuned forward collision system and costs a few grand more than the Rio. Still, it benefits from a plethora of standard features, a spacious and well-designed cabin, smooth but sporty ride quality, and excellent fuel efficiency. There is little wonder as to why the Civic is such a strong contender against the Rio.


The 2020 Kia Rio seems somewhat unassuming at first glance. However, this little sedan/hatchback line-up packs a few really wonderful surprises. The steering and handling are better than average for the class, and the entire set-up for physical and digital controls is user-friendly. While the Rio has a few pitfalls, it is a vehicle that fuel-savvy drivers will take interest in this model year.

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