If you’re looking for a new car that doesn’t demand a lot of money, take a serious look at the 2021 Kia Rio. Not only does this subcompact sedan have a low starting price, but it also comes with a 100,000-mile warranty. Meanwhile, a nice interior gives the Rio a clear advantage over the typical economy car. Here’s what you need to know about the 2021 model.
2020 vs 2021: What is the Difference?
For 2021, Kia has given the new Rio a sportier look. Both trim levels receive a refreshed grille and new bumpers. An updated infotainment system with wireless smartphone connectivity arrives as well. Another big change is the arrival of a new optional Technology package.
What Do the Various Trim Levels Offer?
The new 2021 Kia Forte is offered in two trims: LX and S. Your most affordable option is the base LX trim. Like the range-topping S model, it comes equipped with a 120-horsepower engine. This engine is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission.
A recent styling refresh makes the LX trim’s exterior look more appealing. There are plenty of attractive features on the inside, including a newly standard 8.0-inch touch display with wireless smartphone integration and Bluetooth technology.
Atop the lineup is the Rio S, which adds a rear USB port and remote keyless entry. New for 2021 is the S trim’s optional Technology package. Among the upgrades include LED headlights, more attractive 15-inch alloy wheels, satellite radio, and automatic temperature control. This package also brings several Kia Drive Wise safety technologies.
Which Trim Is Right For Me?
If you’re looking to keep costs as low as possible, choose the Rio LX. Prices start at a more than reasonable $16,000. While the Rio LX doesn’t offer any advanced safety technologies, it does come equipped with a nice infotainment system.
Although the Rio S isn’t a big step above the base LX model, it does open the door for you to get Kia’s new Technology package. This package’s long list of appealing upgrades is well worth the extra $1,400. The additional safety features are bound to come in handy. You can still look forward to spending less than $19,000.
What Kind of Technology Does It Have?
The 2021 Kia Rio now comes standard with one of the most modern infotainment touchscreens in the class. Not only has Kia sharpened the interface’s graphics, but drivers can also connect their phone without using a cord. A larger 4.2-inch driver information display and automatic climate control are offered on the S trim.
How Does It Perform?
Like most models in the segment, the 2021 Kia Rio isn’t a powerhouse. Nevertheless, this sedan proves to be peppy enough for the daily grind. Drivers shouldn’t have any issues getting up to highway speeds. A 0-60 mph time of 8.5 seconds makes the Rio a tad quicker than some other economy cars. Fuel efficiency stands at money-saving 33 mpg town/41 mpg freeway.
On the road, the Rio impresses with its predictable handling. Drivers will also enjoy the car’s responsive steering system. Above-average ride comfort sweetens the deal. Front-wheel drive is standard on both trims. Because an AWD system is not offered, things can become a bit slippery on snowy streets.
Is It Safe and Reliable?
Crash scores aren’t currently available for the 2021 Kia Rio. Nevertheless, some valuable safety technologies are found in the S trim’s optional Technology package. A few of these helpful driving aids include forward collision avoidance with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and pedestrian detection. Busy parents will greatly appreciate Rear Occupant Alert, which keeps them aware of kids and pets riding in the back.
Few economy cars can match the Rio’s bulletproof reliability. It receives a 4.5 out of 5.0 dependability rating.
What’s the Interior Like?
In terms of quality, the Kia Rio’s interior ranks among the best in the class. Its cabin has a clean, sophisticated appearance. While the Rio’s front seats are roomy and supportive, there’s a limited amount of legroom in the rear. Luckily, the trunk provides plenty of space for groceries and backpacks.
What Are the Alternative to This Model?
The 2021 Hyundai Accent is a good option. Its powertrain and suspension are identical to that of the new Rio. While the Accent has a lower starting price, a better infotainment system comes standard on the Rio. Safety tech, like lane-keep assist and pedestrian detection, are also not available for the Accent.
Another great alternative is the new 2021 Nissan Versa. Spacious rear seating helps it to stand out. While the Versa brings a lot to the table, it’s not as engaging to drive.
The Honda Civic sedan is a good pick. Some drivers will enjoy the Civic's more powerful turbo engine and eye-catching styling cues. However, it's thousands of dollars more expensive than the new Rio.
Note: All Kia Rio lease prices and dollar figures above are approximate amounts. Prices are subject to change without notice.