The Kia Rio made its debut in late 1999 as a subcompact car. It entered its fourth generation in 2016 and has sold over 500,000 units in the U.S. alone.
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It hasn’t always gotten the best ratings from critics and it was ranked #1 on Hot Card’s list of the worst Kia models. Nonetheless, the Kia Rio has had some undeniably great years as well as some flat-out terrible model years.
In this article, we have compiled an explicit list of the best and worst Kia Rio years of all time using figures and statistics. Let’s roll.
The Best And Worst Years For Kia Rio Are:
The best model years of the Kia Rio include the 2005, 2006, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017,2018,2019, and 2020 models. On the other hand, the worst Kia Rio model years include the 2001,2002, 2004, 2007,2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 models.
Be sure to read our article on how long Kia Rios typically last.
What Kia Rio Years Are The Most Reliable?
In over two decades of production, the Kia Rio has had some pretty reliable model years. Below is a list of them:
1. 2005 Kia Rio
The 2005 Kia Rio is one of the most reliable Kia Rio model years of all time. It marked the end of the model’s first generation in the U.S. and was met with mostly favorable reviews.
The ’05 Kia Rio was praised for its excellent fuel economy, comfortable ride, and plush seats.
It also boasts great resale value and remains on the market to this day. On Car Complaints, the 2005 Kia Rio has only had five complaints, which is one of the fewest for the Rio category.
If you are looking to cop a Rio model from the early 2000s, the 2005 Kia Rio makes for a great choice.
2. 2006 Kia Rio
The 2006 Kia Rio kick-started the Rio’s second generation in the United States. It debuted to massive acclaim and scored a 4.3 rating on Cars.com as well as 4.6 on Edmunds.
Its best features include its stellar acceleration, gorgeous interior, composed ride, and nimble handling.
It also came with a very extensive warranty, which bought the model a lot of goodwill.
Over the years, the 2006 Kia Rio has only had two complaints on Car Complaints, which is one of the least figures in the category.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find many Kia Rio model years that are more reliable than the 2006 Kia Rio.
3. 2010 Kia Rio
The 2010 Kia Rio debuted back in 2009. It received mostly positive reviews from pundits who praised its balanced handling, plush seats, excellent fuel economy, top-shelf interior, and a 10-year warranty.
On Car Complaints, the 2010 Kia Rio has only had three complaints, which is one of the fewest for any cars on the platform.
Truth is, it didn’t do so well commercially and it remains one of the lowest-selling models. However, what the 2010 Kia Rio lacks in popularity and commercial viability, it makes up for in long-term reliability.
4. 2015 Kia Rio
The 2015 Kia Rio is one of the best Kia Rio model years of all time. It debuted in 2014 to massive acclaim from critics, pundits, and customers. Its most acclaimed features include deft handling, gorgeous styling, and a simple infotainment system.
It ranks #1 on U.S News’ list of 2015 subcompact cars and scored an outstanding quality and reliability rating of 87/100 on J.D. Power.
Since its debut, the 2015 Kia Rio has only accrued four complaints on Car Complaints, so far, which is one of the fewest.
If you are looking to buy a used not-too-old Kia Rio, the 2015 Kia Rio is worth your consideration.
5. 2016 Kia Rio
While it didn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor, the 2016 Kia Rio also debuted to massive acclaim across the board. It was heavily praised for its animated performance, spacious cabin, and handsome interior.
Over the years, its reliability has proven true as it has only had two complaints on Car Complaints, so far. The 2016 Kia Rio is a solid offering and is worth the consideration of anyone looking to cop a Rio model.
6. 2017 Kia Rio
The 2017 Kia Rio was met with widespread laudation upon its debut. It ranked #4 on the U.S. News List of subcompact cars and notched an 8.4/10 rating, which was a lot better than its predecessor’s.
On Car Complaints, the 2017 Kia Rio has had just 3 complaints so far, which is one of the least figures for the Rio category. It is a pretty good subcompact car with minimal faults and complaints which is why it is featured on this list.
7. 2018 Kia Rio
The 2018 Kia Rio is a sixth-generation model of the Kia Rio. Its debut was met with widespread praise and accolades, including a return to the #1 spot on U.S. News’s list and an outstanding 8.8/10 rating.
Some of the 2018 Rio’s top features include its simple infotainment system, deft handling peppy engine, and excellent safety scores. It has polled a total of 5 complaints so far, which is one of the fewest numbers of complaints for any Kia Rio model.
The 2018 Kia Rio is a classy model that has also managed to hold strong on its reliability hence its inclusion on this list.
8. 2019 Kia Rio
The 2019 Kia Rio debuted in 2018 as part of the model’s sixth generation. It was greeted with widespread acclaim including an enviable 9/10 rating from Car and Driver.
Its best features include deft handling, a simple infotainment system, and surefooted handling among others.
On Car Complaints, the 2019 Kia Rio has only polled 2 complaints so far, which is one of the fewest on the platform.
While it’s best to still give it some time, we believe the 2019 Kia Rio has already cemented itself as one of the most reliable Kia model years.
It’s a solid model year with no complaints of severe faults so far.
9. 2020 Kia Rio
The 2020 Kia Rio was one of the best subcompact cars of the 2020 model year. It received tons of praise for its excellent fuel economy, nimble handling, and top-tier cabin.
On J.D Power, it scored an excellent reliability rating of 87/100 making it one of the most reliable Kia model years ever.
So far, it has not had any complaints whatsoever on Car Complaints, which is a good sign and an unspoken affirmation of its reliability. Need we say more?
What Kia Rio Years Should You Avoid?
Below is the list of problem-ridden Kia Rio model years that you should absolutely avoid:
10. 2001 Kia Rio
The 2001 Kia Rio is a first-generation model that was introduced in the year 2000. It has an average rating of 3.0 on Cars.com and is widely considered one of the worst Kia Rio models of all time.
On Car Complaints, the Kia Rio has had 19 complaints so far, which is one of the highest numbers of complaints in the category. Of the 19 complaints, 12 of them are about engine problems, some of which are very severe.
Car Complaints rates `”intermittent loss of power” as the Kia Rio’s worst problem; the issue has an average mileage of 74,000 miles and a “really awful” severity rating of 9.1.
The 2001 Kia Rio is not really a reliable car and we advise avoiding it entirely even if you are offered it for free.
Check out our detailed list of common problems with Kia cars.
11. 2002 Kia Rio
The 2002 Kia Rio is another model year from the Rio’s first generation.
Much like its predecessor, the Kia Rio’s introduction was met with mostly lackluster reviews owing to its poor ride quality and absence of some basic features.
It currently has a total of 8 complaints on Car Complaints, most of which are severe issues. Of the 8 complaints, 7 of them are about the car’s engine problems.
Car Complaints also listed engine failure as the worst problem suffered by the 2002 Kia Rio. It has an average mileage of 77,509 miles and a “really awful” severity rating of 9.1.
The ’02 Kia Rio is not the car to go for if you are particular about reliability.
12. 2004 Kia Rio
Kia introduced the 2004 Kia Rio back in 2003 and it was greeted with bang-average ratings from critics. Many pundits and consumers decried its rough handling, average fuel economy, and poor rear spacing.
On Car Complaints, the model has polled just about 8 complaints so far. While this is not anywhere near the highest complaints figure in the category, Car Complaints still named the 2004 Rio as the worst model year.
It got the “Worst” tag because of the severity of its engine problems. The model’s worst issue according to Car Complaints is the engine seizure problem with an average mileage of 79,700 miles and a disconcerting 10.0 severity rating.
The severity of these issues has made it one of the least reliable Kia Rio models ever made.
13. 2007 Kia Rio
The 2007 Kia Rio debuted back in 2006 as part of the model’s second generation. It didn’t get the best reviews among its peers owing to its low safety scores, poor cabin space, mediocre speed, and absence of cruise control.
On Car Complaints, the 2007 Kia Rio has polled no less than 20 complaints, which is the second highest figure in the category. Not only are these numbers high, but the issues are also very severe.
Car Complaints ranked transmission failure as the model’s worst problem. The issue has an average mileage of 95,000 miles and a “really awful” severity rating of 10.0. Not to mention, it costs an average of $3,000 to fix.
Our recommendation is simple- avoid the 2007 Kia Rio.
14. 2008 Kia Rio
The 2008 Kia Rio debuted in 2007 and it wasn’t much better than its predecessor. It was heavily knocked by critics for its poor safety system and early engine problems, among other issues.
Total complaints for the 2008 Rio on Car Complaints stand at 13, which is one of the highest figures for any Rio model year.
Car Complaints rank random engine vibration as the worst problem for the 2008 Kia Rio. The problem has a “really awful” severity rating of 10.0 and an average repair cost of $850.
The second worst is “Air Conditioner not working properly” with an average mileage of 52,000 miles. It also makes up about a quarter of all complaints.
If you are looking to cop a reliable Kia Rio model, the 2008 Kia Rio is not what you are looking for.
15. 2011 Kia Rio
The 2011 Kia Rio was generally viewed as a massive downgrade to its predecessor owing to a massive drop in ratings. On Cars.com, it scored an average 3.2 rating and was widely knocked for its poor safety ratings, noisy engine, and absence of stability control.
On Car Complaints, the 2011 Kia Rio has had no less than 16 complaints so far. Of the 16 complaints, 12 of them were about its engine.
Car Complaints also named engine light irregularities as the model’s worst problem. It has an average mileage of 47,450 miles and makes up half of all the complaints.
On the whole, the 2011 Kia Rio is one of the least reliable Rio model years of all time and it’s not worth buying in this day and age.
16. 2012 Kia Rio
Unlike most of the other model years on the list, the 2012 Kia Rio actually started off strong with highly favorable ratings and reviews. However, reliability wasn’t among its strong suits which is one of the major reasons it’s on this list.
On Car Complaints, the 2012 Kia Rio polled a total of 19 complaints, which is one of the highest tallies in the category. Its worst problem is “engine seizure” which has an average mileage of 69,500 miles and an average repair cost of $2,500.
If you are looking to cop a used Kia Rio model, there are quite a number of model years better than the 2012 Kia Rio.
17. 2013 Kia Rio
The 2013 Kia Rio debuted in 2012 and was greeted with early acclaim and laudation from critics and customers alike. However, its reliability ratings were just not up to par.
Its lackluster reliability ratings were justified when it polled a total of 25 complaints on Car Complaints, which is the highest in the Rio category.
Car complaints singled out engine failure as the model’s worst problem. It has an average mileage of 79,000 miles, an average repair cost of $4,750, and a “really awful” severity rating of 10.0.
Also on the list of its worst problems is reported engine noise with an average mileage of 73,050 miles.
The severity of the 2013 Rio’s problems is exactly why it closes out our list of Kia Rio model years to avoid.
What Are Some Typical Problems With The Kia Rio Models?
Below is a list of some of the most common problems with the Kia Rio:
- Engine Failure
- Engine Seizure
- Air Conditioner issues
- Loss Of Power
- Engine Stalls
- Rough idling & misfires
- Inadequate safety features
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.