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When you think of the cheapest cars, you usually don’t expect them to be the best in their class. The 2023 Kia Rio fights that stereotype by being U.S. News’ best subcompact car for the money. Economical subcompact cars are becoming few and far between as the crossover market grows for the standard family car. In most cases, the competitive long-term cost of ownership sets a budget car apart. However, with the Kia Rio being a budget car, that doesn’t mean giving up standard amenities.

How reliable is the Rio?

2023 Rio 5-Door red
2023 Rio hatchback | Kia

The 2023 Kia Rio is a continuation of the fourth-generation Rio. There are no updates for the 2023 model year besides adding an oil-level sensor to alert the driver of low oil levels. At its core, the Rio is a good car at an even better price. You can get the Rio in a four-door sedan or as a hatchback. Powering the Rio is a 120-horsepower four-cylinder that runs through a continuously variable transmission. Its low power and CVT make for an economical drive that you can trust your first-time driver with.

With its low-power engine and basic amenities, the 2023 Kia Rio scores well in reliability. According to J.D. Power, the 2023 Rio is rated 86 out of 100 for quality and reliability. Compared to the past models, this rating is what you expect from the Rio. Many of the Kia Rio competitors, like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris, have been replaced by bigger, expensive crossovers. With competition so thin, the Kia Rio stands out even more.

Does the Rio have Apple Car Play?

2023 Kia Rio interior
2023 Kia Rio | Kia

Keeping simplicity in mind, the 2023 Rio gives you all the basics and nothing more. A clean-looking dashboard with an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen and climate controls satisfies the standard commuter. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the Rio, allowing for ease of use with any smartphone. Plenty of hard plastic spreads over the interior, but it has a decent texture to add sophistication to the inside.

Interior space for the 2023 Rio is solid for the front passengers, but the rear passengers only have a little room to adjust. As for cargo space, even the hatchback suffers as the seats do not fold completely flat. There is still ample room to store things in the center console and door pockets, but we wouldn’t try to move house in the Rio.

How much should you pay for a 2023 Kia Rio?

2023 Kia Rio silver
2023 Kia Rio | Kia

Where the Kia Rio truly shines is its price point. One of the cheapest new cars on the market, the Rio LX starts at $17,875. For under $1000, you can upgrade to the Rio S starting at $18,515. The S model adds the center armrest, cruise control, split-folding rear seats, rear USB outlet, and keyless entry. S model cars also have more options, including LED headlights and collision warning with emergency braking.

Is the 2023 Kia Rio worth it?

Overall, the Kia Rio is the number one new subcompact car. Not only does U.S. News recommend it, but many others put it at the top of the list. The current competition of Nissan Versa and Mitsubishi Mirage are slightly cheaper but provide less quality and features. Considering the Rio’s price point and standard features, it is hard to go wrong when choosing a budget-friendly new vehicle.


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