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2003 Kia Rio

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2003 Kia Rio
Available in 2 styles:  2003 Kia Rio 4dr Station Wagon shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

26 city / 33 hwy


2003 Kia Rio 3.4 15
$ 588-6,288
May 7, 2003
Vehicle Overview
One year after introducing its subcompact Rio sedan, Kia launched a similarly low-budget wagon version named the Rio Cinco, as a 2002 model. “Cinco” translates to five in Spanish, which denotes the number of doors on this Lilliputian wagon. The Rio Cinco is available in only one trim level.

Both the Rio sedan and Rio Cinco wagon have been revised for the 2003 model year, and they’ve gained some power in the process. The new 1.6-liter dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine generates 104 horsepower, compared to the original engine’s 96-hp output. Both models now have new automatic-off headlights, and front fog lamps are offered as an option.

Kia claims that shoulder room and hip room have increased. Revised engine mounts and a new exhaust system are intended to yield smoother, quieter operation. A reinforced steering wheel and column mount are meant to produce less vibration. The front brake discs are larger in diameter for increased stopping power. A larger front stabilizer bar is intended to improve handling, while an enhanced suspension has been installed to improve ride comfort.

Kia provides a long-term warranty that covers the whole vehicle for five years/60,000 miles, major powertrain components for 10 years/100,000 miles and corrosion for five years/100,000 miles.

Front-end styling has been reworked on both Rio models, and the sedan’s rear end gets a new trunk lid, taillights and back bumper. A body-colored rear spoiler is now available for the Rio Cinco wagon. Full wheel covers have been restyled, and new five-spoke alloy wheels are optional. Apart from the front and rear freshening, the new Rio and Rio Cinco look about the same as the 2001 and 2002 versions and resemble a typical small sedan or wagon. The basic design has evolved from the Kia-built Ford Aspire of the mid-1990s.

The Rio and Rio Cinco get additional standard interior equipment, including a fade-out interior light, rear-seat heater vents and LATCH child-safety seat anchors. The instrument panel and center console have been updated to include new cupholders. The seat fabric has been revised, and front door panels now feature map pockets with an integrated bottle holder.

Both the sedan and wagon seat five occupants. Kia says the Rio’s seats are higher than normal and provide a commanding view for the driver and passengers. The driver’s seat is height-adjustable and includes an integral fold-down armrest.

Power windows and an AM/FM radio with a CD player are standard in the Rio Cinco and optional in the sedan. Air conditioning is also available as an optional feature.

Under the Hood
Kia’s new 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine produces 105 hp. As in the previous models, a five-speed-manual gearbox is standard while a four-speed-automatic transmission is optional.

Antilock brakes are optional on all models, but side-impact airbags are not available..

Driving Impressions
The Rio Cinco is satisfying in many areas, but performance has been its biggest obstacle — especially when equipped with the automatic transmission. The extra power offered on the 2003 model is welcome. Even on moderate upgrades, the driver had to keep the gas pedal floored constantly, which also produced quite a bit of noise.

Most other features and characteristics regarding the Rio Cinco are pleasing. It’s easy and fun to drive. On good roads, the ride is admirably smooth, and its handling isn’t bad either. The Rio Cinco stays right on course by taking curves competently and maneuvering adeptly with quick steering response.

The seats are nicely cushioned, comfortable, well bolstered and attractively upholstered, and the seat bottoms are considerably longer than what is customary in small cars. The gauges are clear and easy to read at a glance.

Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2003 Buying Guide
Posted on 12/18/02

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