Sedans & Coupes

The 2020 Kia Rio Is a Church Pew on Wheels

Kia has stepped its game up nearly across the board from its buy-one-get-one-free days. The Telluride, Seltos, and Stinger help transform Kia’s once basic and cheap reputation. There is still one that is holding down the modest Kia legacy, the Kia Rio. 

Like pretty much every Kia these days, the Kia Rio is high quality and made to last. Compared to the Telluride or Stinger, the Rio may seem a bit pedestrian, but that doesn’t make it sub-par. 

The Kia Rio may not be fancy but that doesn’t mean it’s not nice

If you’ve ever been inside of an old-school baptist or methodist, or really any traditional-style church, you may be familiar with the old-wooden church pew. If you aren’t familiar, church pews are typically long, heavy, wooden benches that are bookended by a low wooden armrest on each side. Given these establishments’ puritanical modesty, a traditional church pew is well made and sturdy but completely devoid of any sort of adornment or comfort; This perfectly describes the Kia Rio. 

Church Pews
Church Pews | Getty Images

The 2020 Kia Rio powertrain

MotorTrend calls the 2020 Kia Rio a segment-leading subcompact sedan that proves that fact that cheap doesn’t have to mean bad. The Kia Rio has a 1.6-liter inline-four cylinder engine with the same displacement as the old one but with multiport fuel injection. The older models had a less efficient direct-injection system. 

A blue 2020 Kia Rio scooting around the city.
2020 Kia Rio | Kia

A CVT replaces the outdated six-speed automatic from the previous years. According to MotorTrend, these updates improve fuel efficiency quite a bit but worsens the Rio’s power output. The fuel economy jumped from 29 mpg in town and 37 mpg on the highway to a solid, strong, oak-construction-like 33/41 mpg. Following the trend of modesty and humility, the 2020 Rio only has 130 hp. The previous 0-60 mph time was 8.7 seconds; we don’t even need to mention the new time. That would be impolite to discuss at the dinner table. 

Where the Rio lacks in pizzaz is more than makes up in safety and practicality

The Kia Rio won a 2019 Top Saftey Pick from the IIHS because, of course, it did. It got all top scores except for the passenger side overlap collision, but even still, it got second best. If you spring for the options, the automatic emergency braking system impressed the pants off of the IIHS as well. The only part of the Kia that didn’t do well with IIHS was the standard headlights. Running around with bright, show-offy headlights impolite, and the Rio doesn’t get down like that. However, the optional LED lamps rated much better with IIHS. 

Interior tech for the 2020 Kia Rio 

The 2020 Kia Rio has just enough to impress the older church ladies without too much hotdogging. The  7-inch infotainment screen is equipped with Apple Carplay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth capabilities, and every model comes with the same six-speaker audio system. 

The Rio comes in two Trim options, neither of which are flashy 

The Kia Rio comes in two trim levels; the LX and the S. The two models don’t differ much other than adaptive cruise control, auto emergency braking, and more seat adjustability are offered with the S trim. The base model, LX trim, is only offered in the sedan version. The S trim is standard for the hatchback version. 

MotorTrend gave the Kia Rio a very modest 7.7/10. This is a good car that doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone other than it is dependable and responsible, like an old church pew.