The Kia Rio is one of the least expensive cars on sale today; it’s a poster child for “cheap and cheerful” transportation. For 2021, Kia is bestowing its subcompact sedan and hatch with a few minor changes. In fact, you might not even notice the updates. Fortunately, there are publications that specialize in automotive news and reviews, such as MotorTrend, that take the time to pore over the details and point out the 2021 Kia Rio’s small changes for the less eagle-eyed among us.
Notably, the 2021 Rio benefits from new front and rear fascias. If you squint hard enough you could almost convince yourself the Rio’s revised looks resemble those of the new Kia K5 … almost. Kia itself claims the updates give the Rio a “sportier” look. We’d simply call it “less plain.” Either way, the small changes to the grille and lower front and rear fascias do improve the looks of the subcompact model.
The 2021 Rio also features a new 8.0-inch infotainment display that replaces last year’s 7.0-inch unit. As before, the Rio’s infotainment system is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. An available Technology package for the higher-end S trim (the LX serves as the base model) adds the likes of LED headlights, automatic climate control, and active safety items such as automatic front braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beam headlights.
Like last year, the 2021 Kia Rio relies on a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 120-hp for motivation. A continuously variable automatic transmission is standard fare on all Rio models. Despite the changes, the entry-level Rio LX sedan’s price increases by a modest $200, going from $16,815 to $17,015. An additional $640 nets buyers a Rio S sedan, which adds items such as a front-center armrest, cruise control, and remote keyless entry. The 2021 Rio hatch, meanwhile, starts at $17,955 and is strictly available in higher-end S guise. Look for the 2021 Kia Rio sedan and hatchback to hit dealer lots in the coming weeks.