Kia Rio tops Consumer Reports’ list of recommended small cars

Article by Christian A., on March 23, 2012

Consumer Reports' list of recommended small cars was topped by Kia Motors Corp.'s next-generation Rio. It was able to beat rivals that are more popular in the U.S. such as Ford Motor Co.'s Fiesta. What the very influential consumer magazine liked about the Rio was its "nimble" handling, smooth transmission, simple climate and radio controls.

It also praised Rio for its more cohesive interior compared to a previous version that had visible screws. Meanwhile, Nissan Motor Co.’s Versa sedan had low scores and was criticized for its overhaul as it made the ride jittery and the sounds coming from its engine were “overwhelming and offensive.” In a statement released last Thursday by Consumer Reports, it stated that the revisions on the Versa made it take a dive to the bottom.

More consumers in the U.S. have turned to small cars as gas prices have been rising since 2008. Because of this interest, automakers have given their vehicles a makeover and made them offer more comfort and be more stylish.

A lot of these vehicles are fitted with options such as back-up cameras and voice-activated entertainment systems. David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports, said that for a time, subcompact cars became collectively known as 'penalty boxes’. He said that with these new redesigns, the subcompact models appeal more to people who are on a budget.

The overall road-test score for the Rio sedan was 67 out of 100. It moved past refreshed models of Hyundai Motor Co.'s Accent and the Chevrolet Sonic, which was produced by General Motors. Both got a 65 score.

The Fiesta got a score of 61 while the Versa earned a 53. The hatchback version of the Rio did even worse. On the list of small hatchbacks, the Rio hatchback landed on third place, behind Honda Motor Co.'s Fit and the hatchback version of the Versa. The topseller in the small car segment last year was the Ford Fiesta, which sold over 68,500 Fiesta cars. Honda sold almost 60,000 Fit models and Hyundai Accent had sales of more than 55,000 units.

Kia’s fourth-generation Rio was unveiled in 2011 at the Geneva Motor Show. It boasts a distinctive and bold personality, which brings the latest model in line with the rest of the South Korean carmaker’s stunning design-led product range.

Aside from appealing to customers’ aesthetic tastes, the new Rio will spearhead Kia’s efforts to grow its market share significantly across the world by offering industry-leading environmental credentials to potential car owners.

The model range’s target CO2 emissions start at just 85 g/km. This figure represents a new industry-wide low and places the B-segment Rio ahead of other models in its segment and even ahead of all vehicles that are currently available in the European market.

Kia’s engineers and designers have been tasked to improve on the previous generation model’s impressive international sales success. They were able to come up with a new Rio that combines Korean spice with European finesse, as well as creates a form language that communicates Latin flair, therefore offering a truly global appeal.

According to Benny Oeyen, VP for Marketing and Product Planning at Kia Motors Europe, the Rio has always enjoyed success, and with the new improvements, they now offer a car that is very attractive and carries a fresh sense of sportiness, a car that customers would want to get for its looks, and a car that offers great environmental credentials.

Since it was launched in 2005, the third-generation Kia Rio achieved global sales totaling more than 860,000 units. This was Kia’s third best-selling car in overseas markets in 2010 with sales totaling more than 219,000 units.

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