We weren't exactly sad to hear that Mitsubishi is killing off its horrendous Mirage hatchback, but we are pretty upset to hear that Kia will end the wonderful Rio after the 2023 model year. The Mirage had a paltry 78 horsepower and barely had the will to move. The Rio, however, is actually quite good to drive and has a decent 120 horsepower from its four-cylinder engine. Due to declining sales, however, Automotive News reported that the Rio will be no more after this year.
Kia has not confirmed this, but we wouldn't be surprised if this news was true. The brand stated that the "Rio and Rio 5-door remain strong entry points to the Kia brand." The hard part to swallow is that in a time when the average new car price is around $50,000, the Kia Rio sedan is priced well below the $20k mark at $16,750, and the hatchback costs just $17,690. They both represent great values, and that's becoming harder and harder to find. The 2023 Toyota Corolla costs $21,900, just for comparison's sake. Kia's next cheapest vehicle is the Forte sedan at $19,690. The Rio is almost $3,000 less than that.
This news is also consistent with the demise of two other small cars: the Hyundai Accent and the Chevy Spark, both of which died after the 2022 model year. Sure, there is still a very good set of affordable small cars out there, but anything sub-$20k seems to be getting killed off as Americans pursue crossovers, trucks, and SUVs. The Nissan Versa won't last much longer, and that will be the only sub-$20k car left after the Rio says goodbye. The current list of affordable vehicles includes the likes of:
- Nissan Versa - $15,980
- Hyundai Venue - $19,650
- Kia Forte - $19,690
- Nissan Sentra - $20,200
- Nissan Kicks - $20,590
- Hyundai Elantra - $20,950
We lament the end of the Rio because it was actually very good automobile for the price, not something we can say about the Nissan Versa or the Mitsubishi Mirage. Our 2018 tester was the top-trim EX, and it managed to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds (the Sentra does it in 9.2 and the Mirage in an almost geologic 12 seconds).
The Rio also had good steering and handling, and the car was balanced. It also came standard with great features like a tire pressure monitor, a vivid 7" touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, remote keyless entry, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, autonomous emergency braking, and a forward collision warning system. Our EX tester even had optional red leather upholstery.
Rio sales figures weren't exactly in the toilet. Kia sold a total of 27,065 units last year and 16,551 so far this year. That's actually pretty good, but sales are in decline and likely to continue a downward trend, so it makes more sense for the brand to invest in models like the Telluride, which sold a whopping 99,564 units last year. Don't look for Kia to replace the Rio with another small model, and 2023 marks the end of a 24-year run.