2016 Kia Rio Sedan and Hatchback Debut in Chicago – News – Car and Driver

While the Kia Trail’ster concept was busy hogging all the attention at the automaker’s Chicago auto show press conference, the updated 2016 Kia Rio sedan and hatchback were waiting in the wings for a spotlight moment that never came. They were mentioned only as an aside during the closing remarks, leaving us to ask: “Wait, what? The Rio was refreshed for 2016? And it’s here?” Well, it was, and we’ve got the particulars on all the changes.

The refresh is led by revised front and rear fascias, the Rio adopting the corporate geometric grille mesh pattern seen on the Optima and the Soul. The headlamps get moved slightly inward imparting a more contemporary vibe, and new fog-light surrounds with satin bezels encircle projector lenses. The lower valance also gets some horizontal style lines. The treatment continues at the rear, where the newly designed taillamps have been moved to the far corners of the vehicle, and—in some cases—new lower horizontal lines echo those found on the front. Two new color options, Urban Blue and Digital Yellow, also make the scene for 2016. Inside, some trim bits have been slightly altered, and Kia has increased the use of high-density foam in the A- and B-pillars to reduce NVH levels.

Acceleration, never the Rio’s forte, gets no help in the refresh. Power for both the sedan and the hatchback comes from the same naturally aspirated 138-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder as before. In the sedan, its 123 lb-ft of twist are funneled to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Sadly, the manual is no longer available in the hatchback.

The Rio’s three trim levels—LX, EX, and SX—are largely unchanged. The parsimonious LX comes with crank windows and manual door locks, although it does offer some niceties, including air conditioning, a six-way manual driver’s seat, satellite radio, USB and auxiliary audio jacks, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The LX Power package adds keyless entry plus power windows and door locks. LX sedan buyers who spring for the automatic transmission get Bluetooth and Kia’s efficiency-minded Active Eco System in the bargain.

The mid-level EX comes standard with power windows, cruise control, remote keyless entry, and a tilt/telescope steering column. For 2016, the available Eco package is upgraded to include a backup camera and Kia’s updated UVO eServices Telematics system. A new Designer package dresses up the interior with natty black cloth and gray leatherette upholstery with gray stitching, padded gray door-panel inserts, as well as gray stitching on the steering wheel, center-console armrest, and shifter boot.

The top-dog SX trim—if such a bold claim can be made for such a humble transportation device—is focused on sportiness. To wit, we find 17-inch aluminum wheels; a sport-tuned suspension; 11-inch, front brake rotors; shift paddles; and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The SX also adds a backup camera, navigation, push-button start, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, and a sunroof.

At Chicago, the 2016 Rio waited in vain for its moment in the spotlight, but buyers won’t have to wait long to get their hands on one. The Rio arrives in dealerships in the next month or so—which is a lot more than the Trail’ster can say.

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