This one's made for the city. Need proof? Take a look under the hood of the 2012 Kia Rio. The 1.6-liter inline-four-cylinder engine develops 138 horsepower (up from 110 hp in previous version) at 6300 rpm and 123 pounds-feet of torque at 4850 rpm. Now, that's adequate for dodging rush-hour traffic or hustling along on narrow streets and tight corners.
Among the 2012 updates Rio are a six-speed manual (from a five-speed) and six-speed auto (from a four-speed) transmission. Available as a hatchback or a sedan, the wheelbase gets a boost of 2.8 inches from its predecessor. Starting at $13,400 for the base LX, the Rio is priced at $16,300 for the mid-level/volume-seller EX and $17,700 for the sporty SX. Fuel mileage is touted at 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, which is fairly close to our figures during a week's test drive. With gasoline prices nearing $4 a gallon, this entry-level ride is a no-brainer.
Standard features on the subcompact car, regardless of the trim you pick: 60/40 rear seat, cavernous glove box, tilt steering column, six-way driver's adjustable seat, trip computer and air-conditioning.
The Rio truly is a city commuter's dream car. It's small, but big enough to carry five with plenty of room for cargo (13.7 and 15 cubic feet in sedan and hatchback respectively), offers decent performance, gets good gas mileage and is extremely affordable. A reassurance from the Korean carmaker of its 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain and 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranties should put any doubts to rest.
Wheelbase: 101.2 inches
Length: 159.3 inches
Suspension: MacPherson-type front; torsion beam axle
Steering: electric rack and pinion
Weight: 2,483 pounds
Fuel capacity: 11.4 gallons
Web site: www.kia.com