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2006 Kia Rio Road Test

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Justin Pritchard
2006 Kia Rio (Photo: Justin Pritchard, Auto123)
The next generation Rio has undergone a makeover, inside and out, to make it work better and offer more value for the people who use it most- hard working Canadians who want decent quality and economy in a well built and above all else, inexpensive package. Face it, we all have better things to spend our money on than a car, especially with gas prices lately ruining all the fun of performance motoring for all but the very well off. If you aren't one of these "very well off" people, you'll love the Rio. It's really the most reasonable, sensible, and guilt-free ways to spend your new-car dollar.

Last spring I drove an 05 Rio with the intention of finding out whether this inexpensive car was really cheap or not. I was surprised- it didn't feel cheap at all, really. I found it to be a great little bargain for those of us who want a car as a means to be mobile, and little else. It was functional, practical and adequate, with a big warranty and a little price tag. The difference for the new Rio is that Kia have added more power, more features and more fun while leaving the basic value proposition unchanged: warranty, price, everything you NEED and nothing you don't.

2006 Kia Rio (Photo: Justin Pritchard, Auto123)
It seems that the styling is executed with a different approach which is more basic and charming than the last model, which was sort of a combination of some chrome accenting on an awkward looking body. Even inside, the new Rio looks more exciting, with sporty mesh-covered seats and a brighter instrument cluster which includes a tachometer. Last years interior was comfortable enough, but a little barren looking. One glance at the new interior tells you that this time, they mean business.

If it wasn't obvious before, I don't blame you- but make no mistake now, this is a little, compact car that doesn't cost very much money. But it does pretty big things: for starters, they've added more horsepower. You get airbags, MP3 CD player and split folding rear seats, even on the base model. The driver seat has a number of adjustments to ensure a comfortable drive, and the assembly of the interior, despite heavy use of crispy, rigid plastic panels, is above the norm in this price range, which is under fourteen grand. A convenience package is available, which gets you heated seats and mirrors for those chilly morning commutes, power accessories, and even a remote. Base package or convenience package, you can customize your Rio with dealer installed options like a leather shift knob, spoiler, metallic interior accents, cargo organizers and wheels.

2006 Kia Rio (Photo: Justin Pritchard, Auto123)
On the road, the driving position is good, with the comfortable driver seat keeping you perched high over the dashboard. Headroom abounds: even at nearly 6 feet tall, I still had plenty of room over top. Looking out from within the car, it doesn't feel that small: it has a good view. The same goes for the backseat too- they even installed adjustable headrests in back for added comfort. The legroom isn't overly plentiful, but it's adequate for most.
Justin Pritchard
Justin Pritchard
Automotive expert
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