It’s Too Complicated to Add Basic Safety to the 2021 Kia Rio

Though automatic emergency braking (AEB) is still largely an upscale feature in the industry, it’s turning up in more and more vehicles. According to U.S. News, it’s frequently appearing in updated 2020 and 2021 models. Can you get such a safety feature in an economical car such as the 2021 Kia Rio?

If a vehicle has AEB, the system can detect an imminent collision. It automatically applies the vehicle’s brakes if the driver doesn’t act right away to prevent the collision or reduce the impact. According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, rear-end collisions were reduced by 50% when involved vehicles had AEB and forward collision warning.

How to get AEB in the 2021 Kia Rio

Several of its subcompact competitors have been discontinued, but the Kia Rio returns in sedan and hatchback models for 2021. The entry-level Kia offers great value, along with an attractive interior and standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It just hasn’t offered a lot of driver-assists until now.

In 2021, you can get AEB for the Kia Rio with the S model and with the addition of the S Technology package, U.S. News reported. The additions justify the upcharge to the S model because you get not only AEB but also cruise control, forward-collision warning, remote keyless entry, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, and a USB port in the backseat.

And that’s on top of the great features Rio already offers, such as energetic handling, good fuel efficiency, and user-friendly tech. 

What the competition is doing

RELATE: The 2020 Kia Rio Might Be the Best New Car You Can Buy Under $16,000

Some of Kia Rio’s competition is gone now, including the Chevy Sonic, Honda Fit, and Toyota Yaris. And though the Rio has a lot to recommend it, two competitors offer more standard safety features: the Chevy Spark and Nissan Versa.

The 2021 Spark, like the Rio, has a surprisingly capable drive and a loaded infotainment system. According to Car and Driver, the Spark offers a rearview camera standard, a great feature. You can also get available AEB, forward collision warning (FCW), lane departure warning, and rear parking sensors. 

The 2021 Versa, like the Rio, offers a great infotainment system and good tech. It doesn’t have the snappier driving dynamics of the Rio, according to Car and Driver. When it comes to standard safety features, the Versa is worth a look, with standard front and rear AEB. It also has other features available, including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

The Rio doesn’t offer many of the active safety features its peers boast, such as adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure alerts, lane-keeping assist, parking sensors, or cross-traffic alerts.

The 2021 Kia Rio

Though the Kia Rio sedan and hatchback have been lumped in with the subcompact car segment, many who give it a try find themselves pleasantly surprised. The cabin design is minimalist but elegant. With its thoughtful layout and appealing materials, it gives an upscale vibe. 

There isn’t a lot of cargo space or room in the backseat, though. If that isn’t a dealbreaker, you’ll get good, intuitive tech.

Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is a bonus. The quality of the ride and handling are also a perk not commonly found in this class. Though a couple of competitors offer more advanced safety features, the Kia Rio still exceeds most people’s expectations for cheap transportation.

Plus, the 2021 Kia Rio got a few updates, including some new styling at the front and rear. It still offers a seven-inch touchscreen to navigate the standard infotainment system with SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth integration, and charging ports. 

Under the hood, the Kia Rio has a 1.6-liter inline-four engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission. The best part? You can get the new Rio with AEB and FCW for under $25,000. But those safety features aren’t standard. To get them, you’ll need to upgrade to the S trim and S Technology Package.