Kia Rio 5 Review

As I noted in the Ford Escape Hybrid review, if you want to know how good a car really is, spend some time in the least-expensive base model with as few options as possible. That way, you're not being swayed by the add-ons.

The same holds true with entire car lines. Wanna get a good sense of how well company "A" builds cars? Drive the cheap one first.

Ever since its alliance with Hyundai, Kia has been on the most improved player list, with a really steep accomplishment curve. And while they deserve credit for the refinement they've put into ever-larger and more luxurious SUVs, minivans and sedans, the proof of how good Kia's getting comes in the small package called the Rio 5.

As the name suggests, it's a five door hatchback, and a small one. There aren't any frills (unless you count the now-expected air conditioning, power windows and power mirrors), but it's a solid, nicely put together subcompact. 10...even 5...years ago, a week in the budget Kia would have been more of a sentence than an offer. But I found a lot to like in the week I had the test Rio.

If we are, in fact, moving en masse to small cars now, vehicles like the Kia Rio 5 will make the transition a lot easier.