2012 Kia Rio 5-Door Review

2012 Kia Rio 5-Door 3/4 Front Profile MPG-o-Matic 2012 Kia Rio Five Door Review Summary: If there’s one word to describe the 2012 Kia Rio 5-door, it’s “value.” In the old days, folks referred to inexpensive fuel-efficient hatchbacks as “economy cars,” and they were spartan and rarely attractive affairs. The Rio turns that notion on its head with an abundance of style and features at a base price starting under $14,000.

The Rio is equipped with a direct-injected DOHC CVVT 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine producing 138 horsepower (HP) and 123 foot pounds of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is only available in the base LX model. A six-speed automatic with overdrive is optional in the LX and standard in both the EX and SX. The automatic transmission features a manual shift mode.

The official fuel economy estimates for all versions of the 2012 Kia Rio 5-door are 30 city / 40 highway miles per gallon (MPG).

We put over 600 miles in our automatic-equipped Bright Silver SX review unit and easily achieved the official mileage estimates, with an average of 41.8 MPG on the Interstate highway and 33.8 MPG combined with temperatures ranging from the thirties through the low-fifties.

While the Active ECO system is intended to reduce fuel consumption, we saw negligible difference in our highway testing.

Interstate Mileage Testing:

  • Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, ECO off, windows up: 41.8 MPG
  • Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, ECO off, windows up: 41.7 MPG
  • Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, ECO on, windows up: 42.0 MPG

Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the high-forties through low-fifties. Our 5-door SX test vehicle was equipped with the standard 17-inch alloy wheels, clad with Hankook Optimo H426 205/45-17 grand touring all-season tires, and was delivered with roughly 1300 miles on the odometer. 185/65R15 tires are standard on the LX and EX models.

Highway driving range is good. All 2012 Kia Rio five-doors are fitted with an 11.4 gallon fuel tank and are designed to run on regular unleaded gasoline.

The Rio 5-door is fitted with four-wheel-disc brakes with Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC). The Rio SX uses 11-inch vented front and 10.3-inch solid rear discs, while the LX and EX use 10.1-inch vented front and 10.3-inch solid rears. The manual transmission-equipped Rio LX tips the scales at 2,410 pounds (curb weight), while the automatic versions weigh in at 2,483 pounds.

The Rio 5-door’s monochrome Trip Computer is nestled within the speedometer and features two trip meters, elapsed time, range to empty, average speed, and average MPG displays, along with a thermometer-style Instant Fuel Economy gauge.

In addition to the larger 17-inch alloy wheels, the SX version features a sport-tuned suspension with altered spring rates, dampers, and sway bar. Overall, we found the ride and handling to be quite agreeable.

All Rio five-doors feature power heated side mirrors. The SX model includes integrated turn-signal indicators and a power folding feature that comes in handy in tight parking spaces. The SX also features standard projection headlights, front fog lights, LED accent lights, and LED tail lights.

The handsome leather-wrapped steering wheel is fitted with a full range of controls.

Our tester was fitted with the standard knit cloth seat trim. Leather seat trim is optional. The driver’s seat has six-way manual adjustment. While heated front seats are optional in the Rio, adjustable lumbar support is not offered.

The audio system in the LX and SX uses four speakers along with two A-pillar mounted tweeters. A pint-sized Microsoft UVO Infotainment System and backup camera display is standard in the SX and optional in the EX. Hands-free Bluetooth is standard, with the exception of the base model.

There are two twelve-volt outlets at the base of the dash, bookending the auxiliary audio and USB input jacks.

Long legged folks take note. While the rear seat provides 37.6 inches of headroom it allows for just 31.1 inches of legroom

The Rio hatchback’s cargo area includes a standard cargo cover and provides for 15.0 cubic feet of storage with the seat up. The 60/40 split rear seat can be easily folded down from either the hatch area or cabin.

2012 Kia Rio Five-Door on the road

All-in-all, the 2012 Kia Rio 5-door represents a remarkable value with plenty of style and features at a surprisingly low price. Our only real gripe (other than a lack of adjustable lumbar support) was with the underpowered audio system, but that might be easily remedied with aftermarket tweaks. If you’re looking for bang-for-the-buck, the fuel-efficient Rio delivers. This ain’t your Granddad’s economy car.

Kia Rio SX 5DR
MSRP: $17,700
Floor Mats – $95
MSRP including options: $17,795

Parts Content Information
US/Canadian Parts Content: 4%
Major Sources of Foreign Parts Content: Korea – 90%
Final Assembly Point: Korea
Country of Origin:
Engine – Korea
Transmission – Korea

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2012 Kia Rio Five-Door Hatchback

Daniel Gray

2 thoughts on “2012 Kia Rio 5-Door Review”

  1. I just got this car two weeks ago. I am excited because I am about to try old tricks again to increase mpg using air intake constriction + hydrogen boosting.

  2. I brought this car June 15, 2013 brand new and I love it to death it has good gas mileage and it drives good and it look so cute and stylish. I got my in black and I would recommend this car for anyone. I switched from a Honda Accord 1998 and brought this one. I was a little concern before, but not anymore this car is superb.

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