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Eric's Autos: 2018 Kia Rio

Eric Peters on

On the Road

The Rio has power to spare. Rarely is it necessary to floor it. There is ample power for merging and pulling away from traffic, not merely for keeping up with it. The others it competes with are also competent in this respect, but the Kia is a bit more so because it has a bit more power.

At the Curb

Unlike its Hyundai-badged brother, the Rio is available in a sedan or five-door hatchback. The 2018 Accent is sedan only, for reasons known only to the emperor. The hatchback is arguably the pick of the litter if you want a small car with more room. It has more than twice the total cargo capacity -- 32.8 cubic feet versus 13.7 in the sedan. And the open floor plan (the cargo area is expandable to include the rear-seat area when the seats are folded flat) makes the space more accessible and usable.

The hatchback is also more compact than the sedan -- 160 inches long overall versus 172.6 inches -- which opens up curbside parking spots the sedan has to pass by.

Both versions have roomier interiors and the same first- and second-row headroom and legroom stats. The Rio's rear legroom has been upsized to 33.5 inches (from 31.1 inches), which gives it a bit more back-seat legroom than rivals like the Fiesta (31.2 inches) and almost as much legroom as rivals like the Yaris iA (34.4 inches).

The Rest

One small disappointment is that the base LX trim doesn't include Bluetooth, which means no wireless piping of your music from you device to the car.

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But there is a USB port, so you can still do it -- just not wirelessly.

One interesting thing is that the base trim LX comes with manual rollup windows. These are a rare thing to find in a new car -- even entry-level cars. Most of the Kia's rivals come standard with power windows. But not everyone wants them. Power windows may be more convenient, but they cost more to fix if the electric motors fail. Manual rollup windows are simpler -- and purely mechanical -- things that usually last the life of the car.

The Bottom Line

The Rio and Accent -- like their rivals -- may be their respective manufacturers' most inexpensive models, but the connotation of cheapness that attends entry level is as out-of-date as parachute pants and Betamax.

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Eric's new book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2018 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

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