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2007 Kia Rio5

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San Francisco: A lot of people are looking for inexpensive, economical commuter cars these days. Just about every automaker offers at least one.  The Rio is that car from Kia, and the Rio5 adds utility to what is usually a bland sedan. The Rio5 is a small, cute, 4-door hatchback, almost a mini-wagon.

I recently spend a week with a Rio5 SX, the top of the line Rio5 and came away pleasantly impressed. The Rio5 is a small car. It is just barely 13 feet long, only 5.5 feet wide, and weighs just less than 2,500 pounds. Yet it will comfortably seat 4, and hold 5 in a pinch. There is a useful cargo area behind the rear seat (my medium size dog was very comfortable back there) that expands to 49.6 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down.

Under the hood is a peppy (110 hp) DOHC, 16-valve (with variable valve timing), 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine. The Rio5 I drove had the 5-speed manual transmission and a 4-speed automatic is available at extra cost.

There’s no getting around that this is a small car yet my bulky frame did not feel cramped. There was ample leg and shoulder room, and an adult could have fit in the seat behind me.

The Rio5 looks friendly and its front end has a smile that is infectious. This is the type of car I can see people naming (not something I’d do, but you know you might).

Overall I was impressed with the quality of the interior materials and the fit and finish. It was not that long ago that an inexpensive Kia looked cheap.  The interior materials looked like cheap plastic, the pieces did not fit together well, and even the seats looked bargain basement. The only interior component on the Rio5 that looked inexpensive was the carpet, and it looked more utilitarian than cheap.

During my week with the Rio5 the only think I really missed was cruise control. I checked the Kia web site,, and I could not find cruise listed as a standard or optional feature on either the 2007 or 2008 models. 

I depend on cruise to keep me on the safe side of speed limits. I do not understand the lack of cruise when you consider the standard feature list of A/C, a decent sound system, tachometer, tilt steering column, 8-way adjustable (manual) driver’s seat, driver’s seat fold down armrest, tinted glass, 60/40 split folding rear seat, cargo cover, and auto-off headlights (so no more dead battery). Add in these options of ABS, allow wheels, a power package that includes power windows, mirrors, locks and tweeter speakers, and you have a nice overall option list to choose from but no cruise control.

The Rio5 is not build as a sports sedan yet it does well for itself. The standard tires are P195/55R15, with an option tire size of P205/45R16. These are not the normal econo-box skins; these are tires that will get you around a corner without giving up half way through it.

Given the price of fuel, as it’s headed to $4 bucks a gallon as I write this review, and the $4 per day bridge toll I have to pay every day, I really appreciated driving the Rio5. The Rio5 has a mileage rating of 32 city and 35 highway, which is pretty good in today’s world of $4 for a gallon of gas.

One of my coworkers, who still think of Kia's as cheap cars, sneeringly asked me how I liked “my” Kia. I told him the same thing I tell anyone who asks me about Kia’s, that Kia builds darn good cars, with one of the best warranties in existence.

Recently I talked to an industry insider who told me straight out that Kia does not lose money on the warranty, which means the cars do not break very often. Remember one thing, maintaining your car is invaluable to its longevity. If you follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule you may never have to cash in on the great warranty it comes with.

The Rio5 has a low entry-level price, a great warranty, cute looks, and is fun to drive. So if you are in the market for a low-price, economical, useful, and fun car to drive, I’d say check it out.  By Bruce Hotchkiss  © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: The Rio is a low-priced, economical, fun car to drive
Topic: The 2007 Kia Rio5 SX
Word Count:  797
Photo Caption: The 2007 Kia Rio5 SX
Photo Credits: Kia Rio Internet Media
Series #:  2007 - 64

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