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Many budget-friendly automobiles require proportional sacrifices. A lower MSRP means smaller interiors, smaller engines, smaller cargo space, and smaller infotainment screens. One characteristic that remains big is the fuel economy figure, luckily. The 2023 subcompact sedan segment is chock full of models boasting high-30 mpg numbers, but which subcompact has the highest?

TrueCar rates the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid 2023 subcompact sedan

With offerings from Germany, Japan, and America, the 2023 subcompact sedan list is long. However, a car from South Korea takes the cake in the battle for which offers the most miles per gallon.

For TrueCar, the Kia Rio is the most fuel-efficient 2023 subcompact sedan. The EPA rates the Rio with an impressive 32 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. Compared to the average vehicle the government agency assesses, the Rio will save owners $2,000 in fuel over five years. With an 11.9-gallon fuel tank, the Kia can cover well over 400 miles in varying driving conditions. For strictly highway driving, the Kia Rio can go the distance between New York City and Toronto, Canada, on one tank.

The Kia Rio’s high points

2023 subcompact sedan
2023 Kia Rio four-door | Kia

As a 2023 subcompact sedan, the Rio stands out from the crowd as “surprisingly well-equipped and attractive,” TrueCar says. The five-seater is available in sedan or hatchback configurations, something few competitors offer. Another feature others don’t provide is an industry-leading 10-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.

The Kia also handles well, providing comfort inside rather than anything regarding sportiness. A welcome addition is a long list of safety features available on each of the Rio’s two trim levels. The modest Rio LX begins at a value-conscious $17,875 and the range-topping S at $18,515, Edmunds reports. Selecting either trim level will place potential buyers into one of the cheapest 2023 subcompact sedans.

The Kia Rio’s low points

2023 subcompact sedan
2023 Kia Rio five-door | Kia

Although the Rio is remarkable with fuel economy figures, it’s unimpressive in cargo space. The sedan version will net a paltry 13.7 cubic feet, which is one of the lowest in the segment. But there is help at hand with folding rear seats to expand needed space. The hatchback offers a much more reasonable 17.4 cubic feet for those who want to keep the seats up.

While the Rio offers a fairly relaxed ride for passengers, drivers will encounter a slight annoyance with finding a comfortable driving position. The 2023 Kia Rio doesn’t have a telescoping steering wheel. It may not be the most significant fault, but drivers on either side of average height may deem it irritating.

Is there a downside to the 2023 Kia Rio’s fuel efficiency?

2023 subcompact sedan
2023 Kia Rio sedan | Kia

Unfortunately, 2023 subcompact sedans usually aren’t very powerful. The 2023 Kia Rio is no different.

Its 120-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder may net a combined 36 mpg, but that will cost acceleration power. There doesn’t seem to be an issue driving the Rio in cities and moving away swiftly from stoplights. However, on the highway, it’s a different story. Drivers must think twice before exploiting a gap in traffic. The Rio is set up for fuel-sipping, not straight-line speed.


2023 Kia Rio: Trims, Expected Pricing, and Specs