Second Gear: Kia Rio - Metro US

Second Gear: Kia Rio

Kia’s officially become a force to be reckoned within the Canadian automotive marketplace — and many folks are wondering how the reliability of their older models has panned out in the long term. After all, long-term reliability is a success factor for any automaker planning an extended stay on our shores.

The Rio is Kia’s entry-level model, and a replacement to the 2006 to 2010 generation is on the horizon. Competing on price and value against models like the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit, Kia offered the Rio up in a small sedan or five-door model with a 110-horsepower, 1.6-litre engine, front wheel drive and both automatic and manual transmission options.

Look for features like USB audio connectivity, heated mirrors, tinted glass, cruise control and air conditioning. Folding rear seats helped enhance flexibility for hauling larger items around, too.

What Owners Like
Most Rio owners say that good overall value and a good warranty attracted them to the car, while a surprisingly refined ride and peppy performance helped seal the deal. Gas mileage, headroom, comfort and even styling are also highly rated. Many Rio owners coming from comparable Toyota and Honda products agree that the Rio is a well-done small car at a reasonable price.

What Owners Hate
Rio’s owner-stated downfalls deal with cheap interior plastics, rattles and squeaks as the car ages, a ‘wimpy’ factory stereo system and a ‘plain’ look to the cabin. Some drivers also wish for a quieter ride.

Common Issues
Check the used Rio for “check engine” or “airbag” lights on a test-drive. If either or both are illuminated, determine why before agreeing to purchase the vehicle. Other potential electronic issues may include headlight or tail lamp failure.

Engine and automatic transmission performance or roughness issues may also be caused by a bad sensor or computer — but have a trained Kia mechanic check to be certain.

Additionally, some owners report faster-than-expected wear of consumable parts — including tires and brakes, and to a lesser degree, suspension components. Though the longevity of these parts is largely subject to driving style and locale, a check over of the used Rio’s consumable parts is highly advised, too.

Note that the Rio uses a timing belt system to control camshaft timing — and that the belt needs to be replaced regularly before it fails. Letting the Rio’s timing belt fail will stop the engine dead in its tracks and may cause catastrophic damage. Ensure the timing belt in the model you’re considering isn’t overdue for a change. In light of several reports of premature timing belt failure, changing the belt ahead of schedule isn’t a bad idea.

The Verdict
With the availability of remaining warranty coverage, low residual values and relatively decent reliability, a healthy used Kia Rio looks to be a fairly solid used car bet.

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