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The 2023 Kia Rio is one of the cheapest new cars, but it’s also one of the most versatile. It offers sedan and hatchback body styles, but is one inherently superior? To find out which Kia car you’ll like better, let’s compare both models in detail.

2023 Kia Rio sedan2023 Kia Rio hatchback
Base Price$16,750$17,690
Engine Types + Sizes1.6-liter four-cylinder1.6-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower + Torque120 hp + 112 lb-ft120 hp + 112 lb-ft
Transmission + DrivetrainCVT, FWDCVT, FWD
Fuel Efficiency 32/41 mpg city/highway32/41 mpg city/highway
Seating Cacpacity55
Cargo Cacpacity13.7 cubic feeet17.4 cubic feet/32.8 cubic feet (rear seatbacks up/down)
IIHS Safety RatingsAcceptable to good crashworthiness, poor to good headlightsAcceptable to good crashworthiness, poor to good headlights

2023 Kia Rio sedan vs. hatchback: Driving and performance

A blue 2023 Kia Rio subcompact car travels on a city street
2023 Kia Rio sedan | Kia

The 2023 Kia Rio’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) provides a pleasant driving experience, but the rest of the vehicle’s performance aspects are underwhelming. Both the Rio sedan an hatchback exhibit imbalanced steering, poor traction, and meager acceleration. The suspension isn’t bad, but the noise levels and unsupportive seats make the ride feel worse. 

2023 Kia Rio sedan vs. hatchback: Interior and tech

Every 2023 Kia Rio model has a lot of hard plastics adorning the cabin, which isn’t unexpected for a subcompact economy car. The hatchback has a sliding armrest, but it’s more for aesthetics than comfort. However, both models have user-friendly controls and relatively spacious accommodations. 

In addition, every model has an 8.0-inch touchscreen, wireless smartphone integration, and Bluetooth. However, only the S trim in both the sedan and hatchback body styles can be optioned with the Technology package. It includes LED headlights, automatic high beams, lane-keeping assist, driver attention monitoring, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. 

2023 Kia Rio sedan vs. hatchback: Trim levels and features

The 2023 Kia Rio sedan has two trims, starting with the LX. This model has basic air conditioning, hill-start assist, heated outside mirrors, and a tilting steering wheel. The S trim adds cruise control and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat. Also, this model can be upgraded with LED headlights separate from the Technology Package, as well as satellite radio and automatic climate control.

These features carry over to the Kia Rio S hatchback, which also boasts standard automatically adjusting headlights.

Which Kia car under $18,000 is the right fit for you?

A silver 2023 Kia Rio parked in front of a city skyline
2023 Kia Rio sedan | Kia

The 2023 Kia Rio sedan and hatchback have identical powertrains, gas mileage, and safety ratings. That means a significant part of your decision will depend on your feelings toward hatchbacks versus sedans. Hatchbacks typically provide more cargo space, as is the case with the Rio. Furthermore, a hatchback might have better resale value than a sedan. 

However, sedans typically have lower interior noise levels, which is important when driving a smaller car. Because these two subcompacts weigh less than most other vehicles, unwanted wind and road noise can more easily permeate the cabin. Hatchback cargo covers can get lost or fail to provide enough privacy, but a sedan’s trunk completely conceals belongings. 

If you enjoy hatchbacks, Kia provides a few extra features in the Rio hatchback. You can still get most of them in the sedan’s S trim, which is $300 cheaper than the hatchback. Considering the prices of many other new compact cars, your wallet wins no matter which Kia car under $18,000 you choose.