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It’s hard to predict which vehicle buyers will choose, especially when you are comparing two vehicles by the same automaker that are very similar. This is the case with the Kia Forte and Kia Rio, two affordable Kia sedans. While one is cheaper, shoppers aren’t as into it as they are other options.

While there are some cases when the sales numbers are close enough that it doesn’t really matter which vehicle sold better, that’s not even remotely the case with the Kia Forte and Rio. The sales are so far apart, it makes it clear that buyers are simply not that fond of the Rio.

According to Kia Media, the Forte is far outperforming the Rio in every arena. In June 2023, it sold 10,330 models. In contrast, the Rio sold only 2,180. The year-to-date sales are also not so hot for the Rio. It’s sold a mere 14,196 vehicles up to this point, while the Forte has sold 62,061. This makes it the second-highest-selling Kia in the lineup.

How do the Kia Rio and Forte compare

While they’re both affordable Kia sedans, the Kia Rio is cheaper than the Kia Forte, and it costs around $3,000 less. The Forte starts at $19,490, while the Rio starts at $16,550. 

The Kia Forte has a 2.0L four-cylinder engine, which is slightly more powerful than the Rio’s 1.6L engine. The Rio has better fuel economy, however, with an EPA rating of 32 mpg city and 41 mpg highway. In comparison, the Forte gets 28 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. This is so close that most drivers won’t care.

When you check out the features, things begin to make more sense when determining why shoppers prefer the Forte. For starters, the Forte is bigger. Length-wise, it’s 182.7 inches, which is 10.1 inches longer than the Rio’s 172.6 inches.

While the legroom and hip room are almost equal, passengers in the Forte have 96 cu. ft. of volume, while the Rio offers only 89.9. The trunk on the Forte is also 1.6 cu. ft. longer, which isn’t a big deal until you need an extra inch to stuff your groceries or luggage in.

The Forte also comes with more standard features, like an alarm, cruise control, and keyless entry. More desirable features include lane departure warning and lane keeping assist.

The Kia Rio is the most affordable Kia sedan and also the most reliable

The one area that the Kia Rio manages to stand out above the Kia Forte is in terms of reliability. We recently reported that the Rio is the most reliable vehicle in the Kia lineup. Repair Pal reported that it has a reliability rating of 4.5 out of five. The review site determines this by looking at the frequency, severity, and cost of repairs, and the Rio really shines thanks to the fact that it doesn’t have to visit the mechanic very often.

In terms of unscheduled repairs, the Rio has to be taken in an average of 0.2 times per year. Other Kia models, including the Forte, have a frequency of 0.4 times. The severity rating on the Rio is 9%, as compared to 12% for other Kia models.

In spite of this, it’s simply not enough to help the Rio outsell the Forte. Even though the Forte is not as reliable, it’s not exactly a clunker either. The price difference is not that great, and considering that both are available for less than $20,000, most potential shoppers will probably choose the Forte over the Rio, and the sales numbers prove it despite it not technically being the most affordable Kia sedan in the lineup.


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