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Kia Rio 5-Door 2012 Review

To get a hatchback, or not to get a hatchback is the question. Nowadays, the burgeoned trend for the younger demographic of drivers is to get as much gas mileage out of their car, while being able to stuff in an excessive amount of IKEA boxes into it. To top it all off –  at the same time the vehicle should still be technologically advanced. Fiat, Honda, Mazda and a few others have all contributed to this new fervor – the hatchback subcompact vehicle. That is where the 2012 Kia Rio 5-Door steps up to the plate.

The 2012 Kia Rio 5-door is one of those cars that is trying to pull off being both sleek and hip, yet affordable and fuel efficient too. While the Rio 5-Door starts at $13,800 and can go upwards of $20,000+ depending on upgrades, it is still relatively a good price for what it brings to the table. In fact, this is one subcompact car that acts like a larger car, but is in the shape of a much smaller one.

The 5-Door (the 5th door being the hatchback) Rio has interiors that will appeal to those heading off to college, or for others getting their first car. The front end sports a modern grille design that can be found in similar variations on other larger and more costly vehicles. And while the upholstery of the Rio 5 we reviewed is black with a decent pattern, it certainly isn’t mind blowing visually. However, the fabric could be easily cleared of crumbs or spills… which is something that younger drivers whom like to eat and drive, can appreciate.

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The Kia Rio 5-Door we reviewed included some upgraded features that are certainly worth the investment if you have the cash. The UVO system from Microsoft enables full Smartphone integration with your car. Specifically, it allows you to make and receive calls on your phone via Bluetooth. The in-car system also lets you charge your iPhone in the Rio 5-Door via a USB cable and at the same time allows you to also see your playlist on the touch-screen system and play music through its speakers.

The Rio 5-Door can also be equipped with a back-up camera, which is a feature not commonly found in cars of this size. But while our vehicle didn’t have a push-button start with keyfob, that feature is available as well. Heated leather seats and power-folding mirrors are some other robust features that turn the Rio 5-Door into a 5 star vehicle – if you are willing to spend the extra dough.

While the interior design of the Rio 5-Door is quite nice, the seats are a bit stiff and tend to grow uncomfortable after long periods of driving. For those with longer legs, you will want to adjust your seat accordingly, even if that takes away a chunk of leg room from your passengers in the back. With that said, it isn’t that much to begin with. Those folks on the shorter side of the height scale will definitely have a better time handling and feeling more comfortable in this car.

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What younger drivers will love about this car is the ability to pack in a whole lot of junk. Whether they are heading off to school, to the beach or to IKEA, the Rio 5-Door can handle all your stuff and still look like a hot car in the process. We loaded the car up with various sized boxes and were able to fit in four 72” x 15“ boxes inside! We flipped down the backseats and then reclined the front passenger seat back and took out the head rest. We then slid the boxes into the car through the back of the car.  So if you are concerned about strapping your surfboard to the roof, rest assured knowing that you can easily fit it inside the Rio 5-Door with some creative maneuvering.

For those looking to get the most bang for the buck when it comes to gas, the Rio 5-Door measures up. In the city you will get an EPA-estimated 30 mpg and on the highway about 40 mpg. Out of pocket it will cost you about $30 to $35 dollars to fill up a whole tank based upon today’s regular unleaded fuel prices. And while testing the car, this estimate proved to be right on point. As a matter of fact, it took a lot of miles to get that gas needle to go below the half way mark. And on the open road it performed just as well.


However, this great gas performance is especially true when Active Eco is activated. In the city, having this setting enabled is really a no-brainer, since it conserves gas big time. However, at the same time the Active Eco mode does hinder the Rio 5’s overall engine and transmission performance. You can feel it in the gas pedal that the car is hesitating to do more than it can. But once you switch Active Eco off, then you really start to feel what the 1.6-liter four-cylinder car can do. With that being said, you will also see your gas deplete much faster than with it on. Personally, I think it is essential for the Active Eco to be turned off during highway driving, while having it on in the city is more than sufficient for driving around – unless you like speeding though green lights…


All in all, the 2012 Kia Rio 5-Door is a well rounded car that offers a lot  of value for those buying a car for their kids, and is also suitable for those looking for a robust vehicle with a smaller footprint. The Rio 5-Door is also an ideal car for city living. It’s perfect for getting around and doing quick errands, especially since it easily fits into small parking spots. Unfortunately, the car does loathe potholes. And while it bounces out of them relatively with ease, you can still feel every bump on the road while riding in it. It is also far from being a hotrod, so if you are looking for a speedy car, this isn’t it.

With that said, Active Eco in the Kia Rio 5-Door is a terrific feature that really helps conserve gas. However, on the open road you will want to feel your four-cylinder engine and shut the Active Eco off. That means that you will have to sacrifice some gas, but it’s worth it for some torque and pick-up.

The Kia 5-Door is available in 8 different exterior paint colors with a choice of 4 different interior colors and many different types of upgrades to choose from.

The Good: Sleek vehicle that exudes a young and hip feel, perfect for urban driving, Active Eco feature helps save gas, nice interior with touch-screen and back-up camera option, great gas mileage.

The Bad: You feel every bump in the road, Active Eco limits your engines true abilities, seats are a bit uncomfortable after awhile, poor leg room for backseat passengers, a bit pricey after you add all the upgrades for a subcompact vehicle.

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