For 2018 Kia's subcompact hatch gets a fresh redesign and a host of changes.

Montreal, QC  Small hatchbacks are a big deal in Canada. Which is why Kia's having its North American debut of the 2018 Rio 5-door in Montreal.

And while the Kia Rio doesn't sell as well as sister company Hyundai’s Accent; last year, the Rio outsold the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic by healthy margins and even edged out the Nissan Versa. The Rio sold nearly as well as the Toyota Yaris and wasn’t too far behind the perennial favourite, Honda Fit.

To stay competitive, Kia ups the ante on the Rio and has just introduced the all-new 2018 Rio 5-door at the Montreal Auto Show. Here's what you really want to know about it.

It’s larger

Offering up 493 litres of cargo space (68 L more than the current model) made possible by a body that gets 15 millimetres longer, the 2018 Rio 5-door is among the most capacious in the segment. New for 2018 is a split level trunk floor, similar in fact to what we’ve seen Nissan implement in the Versa Note.

The wheelbase grows by 10 mm, allowing for more second-row legroom, 850 mm to be exact. Shoulder room also grows to 1,375 mm in the front and 1,355 in the back.

2018 Kia Rio 5-door NA unveil
2018 Kia Rio 5-door NA unveil

It’s connected and Canada ready

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now available on the Ro 5-door. While a 5-inch screen is standard, a 7-inch touch screen will be front and centre for the car’s infotainment hub.

Kia has also announced that the 2018 Rio will be the first product in their Canadian lineup to feature an embedded telematics system. The system will provide remote service, safety and security, and vehicle relationship management services aimed at enhancing the ownership experience. It will be free on select trims and is free for the first five years.

A heated steering wheel and heated front seats are standard on all Rio 5-door models. A backup camera will also be standard kit on the new car.

It’s safer

The 2018 Rio 5-door will feature Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). As the name implies, the AEB system uses long-range radar to monitor the speed of vehicles ahead of the car and apply the brakes in the event a sudden change in speeds between vehicles is detected. Kia is one of the first automakers to introduce autonomous braking to a vehicle in the subcompact segment.

Kia’s use of their Advanced High Strength Steel increases by 32 percent in the new car. In addition to being lighter, the stronger steel also allows for better impact resistance. The company expects a Top Safety Pick + rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s crash testing.

It’s got less power

In an unusual move, Kia’s downgraded the power figures on the upcoming Rio. The updated 1.6 litre four cylinder motor is now rated for 130 horsepower and 118 lb-ft of torque. That’s down 7 hp and 5 lb-ft of torque from the current model’s 137 and 123.

According to Kia, this will result in better low and mid-range acceleration along with stronger fuel economy figures. The company hasn’t released exact numbers for the 2018 model yet, but the current 2017 Rio 5-door manages 7.8 litres per 100 kilometre combined rating with both the six-speed auto and manual transmissions.

The 2018 Rio 5-door will go on sale this summer. Pricing will be released closer to the on-sale date.


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Photos: David Miller

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