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Small but Mighty: A Closer Look at the Kia Rio

Small but Mighty: A Closer Look at the Kia Rio

A grey 2023 Kia Rio is shown from the side.

Our distinct tastes aren't limited to what we eat, what sports we watch, or how we spend our free time but extend to what we drive. While some drivers flock to gas-guzzling SUVs, others are more apt to look for a Kia Rio for sale. Why? Because the Rio is a subcompact hatchback that offers the versatility Canadians want and need. But what does it mean to be a subcompact hatchback? How does the Rio distinguish itself in an industry often defined by the "bigger is better" mentality? We've got those answers and more as we take a closer look at the small but mighty Kia Rio.

Small in Stature

The Rio is classified as a subcompact hatchback because of its small stature and five-door design. But just how small is it, and how does it compare to other models in the Kia lineup? The 2022 Rio is the smallest model in the Kia fleet, measuring just 4.1 metres long, 1.7 metres wide, and 1.5 metres tall. Its small size and compact design also make it relatively light, with a curb weight of 1,229 to 1,321 kg, depending on the trim and options. Let's put these measurements in perspective.


The Rio's subcompact stature gives it a significant advantage over other models in the Kia fleet, especially large SUVs like the Kia Telluride. The Telluride is on the opposite end of the Kia spectrum, but comparing it with the Rio genuinely showcases the size difference and how Canadians can use the Rio's size to their advantage, nimbly maneuvering the hatchback through narrow streets, rush-hour traffic, tight parking spaces, and beyond. Kia's three-row SUV lives up to its classification, measuring five metres long, a 94-cm increase over the Rio. It also adds 27 cm to the Rio's width and 31 cm to its height, with the Telluride's larger dimensions resulting in its heavier curb weight of over 2,000 kg.

The black interior of a 2023 Kia Rio shows the steering wheel.

More Than What Meets the Eye

The 2023 Rio embodies the adage to never judge a book by its cover. The Rio might be a subcompact hatchback, but its interior tells a different story than its unassuming exterior would suggest. Spacious and well-equipped across its four-trim lineup, the Rio has something to offer everyone. You can even invite your friends for a road trip or load up the car after hitting the home improvement store.


Every trim offers seating for five and 493 L of rear cargo space––which can be extended by folding down the rear seats. You and your copilot have plenty of room, with the Rio offering 99 cm of headroom and 107 cm of legroom, which is more front-row legroom than you'll find in the Kia Soul. Your passengers in the backseat won't have any complaints since the hatchback's design stretches the cabin to offer second-row passengers 96 cm of headroom and 85 cm of legroom.


Kia's keen attention to detail complements this spaciousness. You'll see these details across the lineup, starting with the entry-level LX+ MT trim, which comes standard with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, premium cloth upholstery, and a height-adjustable driver's seat for optimal comfort. Moving up the lineup to top-tier trims like the EX Premium outfits the Rio with heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, and high-gloss interior accents for an elevated level of sophistication.

A Subcompact Powerhouse

The Rio's small frame and lightweight design make it incredibly agile and easy to maneuver at any speed. Kia outfits the subcompact hatchback with its proven 1.6L four-cylinder engine and intelligent variable transmission. With smooth shift patterns, the combination delivers 120 hp and 113 lb-ft of torque to give you the necessary power to navigate every road ahead.


Kia puts you in command of your driving experience in the Rio by outfitting the hatchback with Drive Mode Select. This high-tech system provides four distinct drive modes that adjust the Rio's performance. You can switch between Comfort, Eco, Sport, and Smart modes to accommodate the situation, whether you're looking for sharper handling and an engaging driving experience or want to maximize efficiency.


The Rio's performance is only bettered by its fuel-sipping characteristics. Kia guarantees as much with the Rio's intelligent variable transmission balancing power output with efficiency. The result is phenomenal, with the 2023 Rio rated for 7.2 L/100 km in the city and 6.1 L/100 km on the highway. This fuel economy is a noticeable contrast to the slightly larger Soul, which gets 8.5 L/100 km in the city and 7.0 L/100 km on the highway.

A popular Kia Rio for sale, a blue 2023 Kia Rio, is shown from the front driving on an open road.

Tech-Savvy Everywhere You Look

The 2023 Rio defies the belief that a subcompact hatchback can't be tech-savvy, well-equipped, and affordable. These hatchbacks truly stand out on the lots of all Kia dealers. Unfortunately, automakers often force drivers to choose between these characteristics, refusing to give us what we want and need without exceeding our budgets. Fortunately, Kia does things differently and proves drivers can have it all in the Rio.


The Rio comes equipped with an expansive suite of connectivity, safety, and driver-assist features that make it an incredible value. This technology starts with the driver's digital cockpit, which features an 11 cm TFT instrument cluster that provides vital data like speed, mileage, and fuel economy. Moving to the centre stack, the driver and copilot have access to an expansive 20 cm display that features Kia's infotainment system. You can take advantage of the Rio's wireless smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to sync your smartphone, stream your favourite music, navigate the fastest route, send messages, and more.


Below the centre display is another premium feature that prioritizes your comfort––the climate control system. Kia gives the Rio an edge by allowing you to create your comfort zone. The Rio's available automatic climate control technology monitors the cabin's temperature and automatically adjusts it to the ideal climate, so you never have to mess with the settings.


The Rio's technology continues behind the scenes, where advanced driver-assist features constantly optimize your awareness and minimize the potential for collisions. These tools range from automatic high-beam headlights to more complex tools like the available Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keep Assist, and Lane Follow Assist. In addition, standard tools like the Rear-View Camera Display enhance your view, giving you a live image of what's behind the Rio so that you can confidently navigate the hatchback in reverse.

The Rio Effect

The Kia Rio is a subcompact hatchback by every standard, but it does something unique by showcasing Kia's success at thinking outside the box. Subcompact models are often stereotyped by their cramped and less-than-stellar cabins that leave a lot to be desired. Automakers do this to cut costs, giving drivers a more affordable alternative to the rest of their gas-guzzling fleets. However, the Rio doesn't follow the norm, which Canadians appreciate.


Whether you're looking for the best place to eat, heading to the arena to catch a game, or just commuting to work, the Rio is always ready for the road. It's an affordable subcompact hatchback that doesn't require you to sacrifice or settle for less. Instead, it proves the extraordinary is attainable on a small scale, especially when it bears the Kia name.

Categories: Kia Rio for Sale