The least expensive model from a company known for inexpensive transportation, the Kia Rio walks a pretty fine line. On the one hand, its mission is to provide a good value, but on the other hand it has to meet the expectations of one of the most sophisticated automotive markets on earth.
As Kia learned with the first generation of cars it marketed in the United States, there’s a bit more to it than “build it and they will buy”. Though adored for their affordable pricing, the first round of Kia models was universally panned for their noisy engines, sloppy ride and handling, and cheap-looking interiors.
Over time, Kia got into a groove and today’s Kia models are quite desirable; particularly since the company hired Peter Schreyer, the designer known for his work on such cars as the Audi TT and the Audi A6. Thus, it’s no coincidence the latest round of Kia vehicles look decidedly more upscale.
However, this is a used car retrospective, so we digress; there have been three generations of the Rio offered in the United States since the model was introduced here in 2000 as a 2001 model.