The 2018 Kia Rio gets an updated exterior and engine for the new model.

Kia’s fifth generation Rio is everything you want the next version of a vehicle be: bigger, better, faster, smarter and better on gas.

The new South Korean maker’s new subcompact for 2018 gets a new-look exterior that centers on a longer vehicle and a new take on the company’s well-known tiger-nose grille as well as an improved powerplant and an influx of infotainment and safety technology.

The company rolled out the sedan and five-door at the New York International Auto Show to make their U.S. debut. The value-based subcompact hits dealer showrooms later this year, executives said.

“Value has always been a core tenet for the Kia brand and the all-new Rio sedan and 5-door continue to underscore our commitment to those buyers looking for an entry-level vehicle but desire more than what the subcompact segment currently offers,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning, KMA.

(Kia, Hyundai recall 1.4 million vehicles. Click Here for the story.)

“This fourth-generation Rio makes significant improvements over its predecessor in design, technology and passenger comfort, resulting in an even better value proposition for our customers, while raising the bar in the small-car segment.”

Kia's new subcompact comes in a five-door as well for the 2018 model.

The new Rio’s exterior is redesigned to give it a more swept-back look to make it appear more sophisticated and aggressive. Contributing to that is the fact that new sedan has been lengthened to 172.6 inches (from 172 inches) and the Rio five-door is now 160 inches long (from 159.4 inches).

Both profiles feature a longer wheelbase of 101.6 inches (from 101.2 inches) and more upright A-pillars.  The sedan and five-door are also lower and wider for a more balanced and athletic stance compared with the outgoing model.

The longer wheelbase means, of course, more interior room, and the cabin has been redesigned to better accommodate the Rio’s new technologies. Horizontal lines running the width of the dashboard mimic the exterior design and give the cabin a wider and more expansive look and feel.

(Click Here for details about TDB’s first drive in the Kia Niro.)

For convenience, the center console offers a bi-level tray to better accommodate portable devices such as smartphones and small tablets.

For all those devices, there’s Bluetooth hands-free functionality, as well as a six-speaker stereo with satellite radio and a rear-view camera system Available only on the top-tier EX trim is a seven-inch floating touchscreen interface, UVO3 voice recognition infotainment system and smartphone integration through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The new Rio comes in three trim levels – LX, S and EX – and is powered by a carryover, but enhanced Gamma 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine that puts out 130 horsepower and 119 lb-ft of torque. The updated version offers improved fuel efficiency, better responsiveness and low-speed driving dynamics.

The main features of this unit are a high-pressure fuel system with direct injection, variable intake system, low-friction oil seals, and piston cooling-jets. The well-engineered powerplant also utilizes an aluminum valve cover and block for reduced weight, while incorporating cast iron linings for increased durability.

(Kia expanding green car line-up for 2020. Click Here for the story.)

The all-new Rio is targeting the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick designation and a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Standard safety features include six airbags, side-impact door beams, Electronic Stability Control, a four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System, Hill-start Assist Control and Vehicle Stability Management.

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