Skip to main content

The final year of the cheapest Kia car is here. Though the 2023 Rio isn’t a showy high-performance vehicle, it offers a winning combination of features and comfort on a budget. With a low price and no surprises, this subcompact car is known for no-nonsense frugality. Read on for the 2023 Kia Rio’s pros and cons.

Overview: Price, trims, and features

Seats in 2023 Kia Rio, most affordable new Kia car in 2023 and also the most reliable
2023 Kia Rio | Kia

Kia makes the Rio in sedan and hatchback body styles. The entry-level 2023 Kia Rio LX starting price is only $16,750, easily making it the cheapest new Kia car. This model packs a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, producing 120 hp and 112 lb-ft of torque. It pairs with an intelligent variable automatic transmission (IVT). The powertrain is unexciting, but Its suspension comprises MacPherson struts in the front and a coupled torsion beam axle in the rear for above-average ride quality.

In addition, the 2023 Kia Rio’s gas mileage is above average, expected for a vehicle of this size. It achieves 32 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway.

The only other trim level is the higher Rio S. It has the same powertrain as the LX but includes more features. 

For instance, the base model has an 8.0-inch touchscreen, a front USB port, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a vehicle immobilizer system. Meanwhile, the S has the same features but adds keyless entry, steering wheel-mounted controls, adjustable rear headrests, and a rear USB port.

What does the 2023 Kia Rio get wrong?

Cabin in 2023 Kia Seltos subcompact, one of most comfortable SUVs in 2023 says U.S. News, costs $23K
2023 Kia Seltos | Kia
  • Weak powertrain/slow acceleration
  • Engine noise at higher speeds
  • Cramped back seats
  • Subpar cargo capacity in the sedan body style

The 2023 Kia Rio’s most significant disadvantage is its weak engine and poor acceleration. Its powerplant doesn’t produce enough oomph to reach highway speeds easily or change lanes without considerable forethought. Car and Driver testers clocked the Rio going 0 to 60 in a leisurely 8.6 seconds. That weak engine also produces significant cabin noise as it strains at higher speeds.

Size is another notable 2023 Kia Rio disadvantage. The back seats are cramped, with only 33.5 inches of legroom. Meanwhile, the sedan’s trunk provides only 13.7 cubic feet of space. Those numbers leave little room for adult passengers, car seats, or suitcases.

Though the cheapest Kia car is fuel-efficient and affordable, it isn’t practical for families. That’s likely one reason the South Korean automaker discontinued the Rio after 2023 in favor of roomier crossover SUVs. 

What does the 2023 Kia Rio get right?

  • Sub-$17,000 base price
  • Excellent gas mileage
  • Superb warranty
  • Standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Small size for city driving and parking in tight spaces
  • Hatchback version with more cargo space

The 2023 Kia Rio also has plenty of advantages, including being one of the few remaining subcompact cars. It’s also one of the few new cars under $20,000. And its incredible gas mileage helps maintain this vehicle’s affordability. Furthermore, Kia’s excellent 10-year/100,000-mile warranty is among the best in the industry. For shoppers on a budget, the 2023 Rio is a solid transportation option. 

And though luxury is nonexistent in the spartan Rio, it provides a few modern must-haves. That includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Its easy-to-use infotainment system also offers texting, AM/FM radio, and USB ports. 

Finally, despite its limited passenger and cargo capacities, its diminutive size is also a benefit. It can easily maneuver through city traffic and parking lots. Plus, its hatchback option provides additional cargo space for only $1,000 more. 

Since its 1999 debut, the Rio has been a practical pick and one of the best subcompact cars for the money. After the 2023 model year, consumers must look to the Forte, K5, and Stinger for Kia sedan options. They don’t offer the same cost savings, but they’re affordable cars with the same outstanding warranty.