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First Drive: 2012 Kia Rio Hatchback

First mainstream use of gas-saving Stop/Start technology.

by on Oct.26, 2011

The 2012 Kia Rio 5-door matches its mileage numbers with a distinctive design.

Long an afterthought in the American marketplace, Korean carmaker Kia is rapidly emerging from the shadows of its better-known sibling Hyundai.  And the 2012 Kia Rio hatchback is proof why.

This impressive new entry into the fast-growing subcompact segment is the maker’s latest to get 40 miles per gallon on the highway out of its direct-injected four-cylinder engine.  Give some of that credit to Kia’s introduction of breakthrough Stop/Start technology that can boost fuel economy as much as 5% — the first time this system has been offered in a mainstream U.S. product.

But while mileage may today be one of the first boxes buyers check when shopping for a new car, there are other key factors in the decision process and Kia comes to the front there, as well.

In the Know!

Stylish on the outside and roomy on the inside, the new Rio is the handiwork of Kia’s Southern California styling center, which has done a first-rate job on the overall re-design.   Anyone who hasn’t check out the new look of the brand, in recent years, will be in for a shock at what has been accomplished by Kia’s design chief Peter Schreyer – who was responsible, in a past life, for Audi’s bold look.