Monday, July 23, 2012

Used Car Review - Kia Rio (2006-2011)

Filipinos love Koreanovelas, K-Pop songs, and Korean cars. Myk Belmonte finds a K-pop wonder that delivers the goods in a simple way, but without the looks of Yoona of Girls Generation (or SNSD if you're a rabid fan) or Sungmin of Super Junior, that's if you're after going to point A to Z with minimal fuss.

2006-2011 Kia Rio

Plus with random K-Pop video (scroll it down) on the end of this article!

Let's admit it, back in the 90s, Korean cars - such as Kia, Hyundai, and Daewoo - are popular, but with people who cannot afford wheels made by Japs. With time, Korean cars reached their popularity peak and are no longer relegated to second tier status. Their appeal reached to everyone, just like Korean dramas that are dubbed in Filipino (with some fans wanting to learn the language). Now, Korean cars have a spot on a buyer's shopping list.

The Kia Rio - with the chassis code of DC - went under the radar in year 2000, and this vehicle replaced both the Pride and Avella; the two vehicles were not the cars for having 'aegyo' poses (or cute poses), so the Rio had soft but unconventional styling. After five years being on sale and five years of Endless Love being on air, the Rio was redesigned and improved in 2005. It did target budget conscious motorists and saw a progress in quality and exterior design.

Columbian Autocar Corporation brought the JB Rio in 2006 with both sedan and hatchback styles available. It was the time that the distributor was 'hwaiting~!' (a slang which meant to cheer up or fight for something) to traumatized owners of Korean vehicles and even to the general public. The hatchback body never took off and dropped off the line up in 2008. The Rio found success with taxi operators due to its low price and roomy interior. Face lifted in late 2009 and sold until 2011, with the UB Rio replacing it in 2012. Trim lines available are the loaded EX (in both sedan and hatch configurations) and the taxi driver popular LX, which was added in the lineup during the MMC.

Value and Costs
For second hand vehicle buyers, low resale values when new translate to low prices, which is an advantage to their part. If you're a 'netizen' scouring online ads or an old schooler who picks up a copy of Car Finder or the Sunday edition of Manila Bulletin (and check its famed classified ads section), a 2006-2011 Rio can be obtained between P270,000-P420,000. No mechanical changes were done, so I advise buyers to focus with the vehicle condition. Some units from 2009 have the remainder of their warranties, have a lookout for these.

Cost of maintaining one is not expensive as you think, with support of third party parts suppliers and Kia's wide dealership network (if the unit you've purchased had the balance of the warranty) is there. Since the Rio is commonly used as a city car, inspect the unit thoroughly for wear and tear that are visible or not. If possible, avoid ex-taxi units; these could be a pain for prospective owners.

Exterior and Interior
The Rio was one of the recipients of Kia's evolution in the brand's design philosophy. You may describe it as elegant looking (especially if matched with Red or Blue) or plain looking. If you know the members of U-Kiss one by one, Rio owners will point out some exterior changes involve the blacked-out bumper sections are replaced with body color ones, and the signature tiger nose grille was applied. With the not-so-striking exterior, you won't see this car being used in Boys Over Flowers.

You and I would say that the Rio has a spartan interior. The interior was done in black motif with the absence of airbags (and even an ABS braking system) and a common 1-DIN audio head due to cost reasons. The Rio offers decent room with a reasonable space for passenger's elbows and hips at the rear. Surprisingly, the boot is spacious, thanks to its deep and low portions. Opting for the LX - which is the basic trim - would mean the deprivation of power windows and its side mirrors and door handles are blacked out.

Propelling this vehicle is a 1,389cc engine with 93hp at 6,00rpm and 125Nm at 4,700rpm. This has the ability of reaching triple digit speeds despite the lack of variable valve-timing technology that is present in competitors during its time. You can weave through traffic through a broad range of revs, which you can relieve your City Hunter car chase scene fantasies.

Driving Impressions
If you're after something simple to drive, the Rio is one good candidate. One niggle for newbie drivers is the manual transmission shifter, with the reverse gear located beside the first gear (with access via a pull-up ring below the shift knob) that takes time to master. Expect your passengers to find the ride firm with the suspension setup relegating to cushion them, but one must not expect a plush ride for a budget car.

Music groups like 2NE1 and DBSK and Korean dramas are widespread and can be heard or seen anywhere. The Kia Rio is one vehicle that is common for a reason. And if you need is a basic car that can bring you to F.T Island (this is a boy band, not some place in Subic) or anywhere without the flash, this car merits consideration with low prices to boot. There is no need to fear for reliability problems that early Korean cars faced.

The Good:
  • Comfortable ride
  • Cavernous trunk
  • Peppy engines despite the absence of valve timing technology
The Bad: 
  • Safety features not available
  • Interior is bare
  • Why U no offer alloy wheels??
The Pick: 1.4 EX variant, whether in sedan or hatchback form

Engine: 1,389cc DOHC 16V I4 gasoline
Power: 93hp @ 6,00rpm
Torque: 125Nm @ 4,700rpm
Fuel Consumption: 9-11km/L (city), 12-14km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front McPherson strut with stabilizer, rear torsion beam axle

Price (New): P550,000-P745,000 (range from 2006-2011)
Price (Now): P270,000-P420,000
Rivals: Toyota Vios, Honda City, Hyundai Accent, Chevrolet Aveo sedan, Mazda 2 sedan, Ford Fiesta sedan
On Sale: 2006-2011

Kia Pasay - 852-1490
Kia New Manila - 721-8488
Kia Pasig - 645-3855

Photos courtesy of

The random K-Pop video is here! If you know this song, congratulations! I have not known the title previously I was in grade school back then (sorry for revealing my age).

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