Used Kia Rio review

Recent generations of the KIA Rio have been a big improvement, meaning this compact hatchback is now a great option

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A typically dependable and affordable KIA, the Rio ticks a lot of boxes if you're after a compact hatchback. On the used market, Mk3 models are most common, so that's what we'll focus on here. This generation made the Rio highly competitive against big-name rivals, and it certainly has a lot to recommend it. It looks eye-catching, has economical engines and comes in a good variety of well-equipped trims. Being a KIA, it's an extremely reliable car, and with a 7-year warranty from new, you feel like you're in safe hands.



The Rio has a distinctive front-end design, with the unique grille and large curved headlights. It has a low, swooping body too, so Kia have done well with the styling here. Standard exterior kit includes daytime running lights, body-coloured bumpers, door handles and door mirrors, and 15-inch steel wheels. Upgrading to the Level 2 trim brings the bonuses of 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights and a chrome radiator grille surround.



The Mk3 Rio's interior has a straightforward layout and is of decent quality, being a significant improvement on the previous generations. Standard equipment is pretty good, with an MP3-compatible radio and CD player for all models, plus Bluetooth for all petrol models. You can also add air con to this for a little extra outlay by choosing a '1 air' model. Level 2 models are very nice inside, with premium black cloth upholstery, a cooling glovebox and leather trim on the steering wheel and gearshift.



The Rio is ideal for nipping around town with its light steering and compact dimensions. Indeed, the driving ease it offers makes it a viable option for drivers who have recently passed their test. The Rio also offers a decent amount of grip too, so can hold its own if you need to venture out on to some country roads. The manual gearbox is a pleasure to use too, so all in all the Rio offers a good amount of driving enjoyment.


Despite being very much a compact supermini, the Rio is slightly larger than supermini size. This means there's a pleasant amount of room inside, with two adults, or - at a squeeze - three kids able to sit in the back. The boot is a competitive size for this category too, and load space can be expanded significantly by folding down the rear seats. Overall then, the Rio is practical enough to suit small families.


Engines and transmissions

The petrol options include a 1.25-litre engine producing 83bhp and a 1.4-litre with 107bhp. Diesel Rio models are pretty rare on the used market, but if you can find one it'll be either 1.1-litre 74bhp CRDi or an 89bhp CRDi. As the most powerful, the 1.4-litre petrol is the best option. Manual Rio models are far more common, though you can find a couple of automatic models too.


Being easy to drive and a nice compact size, the Rio is a good option for new drivers and also city drivers in general. Its decent practicality means it's useful if you often carry items such as golf clubs too. Meanwhile, the generous amount of interior space makes the Rio a realistic option for small families too. Given that many used models have some of their warranty left, and given KIA's reputation for reliability, this is a car for drivers looking for excellent value.

Used Kia Rio for sale