After taking a look at both the 4- and 5-door models right next to eachother, a lot remains the same on the exterior of the vehicle, including the somewhat bug-eyed look that many will love, or hate, depending upon your taste in design. One major, and one could also argue, the only difference on the outside of the vehicle would be the rear. Whereas the sedan has a traditional trunk, the 5-door does not, as its' name would indicate. The rear hatch is rather easy to open, and it yields a surprising amount of cargo space for the small car that the Rio is.
As mentioned earlier, this vehicle is painted in Signal Red. If you happen to remember, the 4-door model that was examined last year was also painted in the exact same color. It is a fantastic color, and when clean, it shows remarkably well. Wheels are also the same, and they still manage to look fantastic on the 5-door, as well as the 4-door. Kia design did a fantastic job on this one. With little on the outside being different, let's take a look at the inside of the vehicle and see if anything has changed here.
Blindspots are kept to a minimum, but they do still exist, although you will have them on any vehicle, no matter what. This test unit was not equipped with the extras that the 4-door tester from last year was, but it was still a rather pleasant space to spend some time. A bonus for some people; Kia offered the 2012 SX 5-door model with a manual transmission, but that feature was dropped for the 2013 model year, at least in the Cleveland area. Check with your local Kia retailer for more info, or go to www.kia.com.
Handling, if you will pardon this pun, is not the Rio's Forte. While the steering wheel does provide some feedback, you still feel as though you are being left out of a rather important conversation with your mum, and that could lead to horrible, horrible things later on down the line. Also, when going around some of the sharper curves in the Cleveland area, the car will have a tendancy to understeer a somewhat hefty amount, although that is the nature of front-wheel drive vehicles. To save some face though, the brakes did feel rather strong, even after several hard, and I do mean hard, stops. Also of a positive note is the shifter. While some throws did feel a bit on the long side, the were still of a quality feel, although it is hard to match the feel of a slick shifting Audi. A downside to this shifter, however, was the ability to go from 5th gear, back to 4th gear, when you really want to be in 6th gear. This is because of a slight dog-leg that was not discovered until a few seconds later. Oh, the joys of driving many different types of cars in a months' time.
Safety is of a major concern of many drivers these days, and rightfully so. Rest assured that Kia has packed this vehicle full of safety measures like: 6 standard airbags including full curtain airbags, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, ESC, VSM, EBD, HAC, and TPMS. I will add in the note that the TPMS does indeed work, as there was a tire going flat due to a faulty plug in a really awful location where a tire plug should never be installed. Safety ratings for the Rio are: Good for the moderate overlap test. This is the only crash test ratings available for the IIHS at the time of writing. As you can see, Kia takes your safety rather seriously, as all car companies should.