Base Camp: 2020 Kia Rio LX Manual
Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle on sale in Canada and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we'll let you know. If not, we'll recommend one that earns a passing grade.
It’s tough to find a bare-bones car these days. Even the least expensive models, often parked at the far reaches of a dealer’s lot, are often still equipped with features only found on luxury models just a few short years ago. In today’s market, affordability doesn’t always equate to cheapness.
Nowhere is this ethos more prevalent than in a Kia showroom. Its least expensive model, the Rio LX Manual shown here, features the likes of heated side view mirrors, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel that is (you guessed it) heated, and remote keyless entry. The windows are power operated and a wiper/washer sprouts from the back window. Even the megabucks Porsche 911 doesn’t include that latter item as standard equipment.
Visually, it is easy to tell this is the base model, with its black door handles and 15-inch steel wheels advertising your penny-pinching intentions quite loudly. At least the tires will be affordable come replacement time. However, selecting an Aurora Black paint scheme (the only shade that doesn’t cost extra) permits the handles to blend with their surroundings and the el-cheapo steelies are shared with other members of the Rio LX family.
Infotainment is handled by a 5-inch display, a screen technically smaller than some of the biggest iPhones. There are a quartet of speakers, a USB input, and – happy day – satellite radio functionality. The latter is a big deal, given that plenty of manufacturers hold this feature back on entry level models of much more expensive machinery.
No matter what Kia Rio you select, there will be a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine under the hood, making 120 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque. This is stirred by a six-speed manual transmission, a feature whose title makes it into the official name of this car.
What We’d Choose
While it is tempting to drive off in what is one of the least expensive way to secure an excellent new car warranty – and Kia’s is one of the best – your author would be very hesitant to sign the note on a new vehicle without air conditioning. Yes, it definitely gets hot enough in Canada to warrant such a luxury, and few people enjoy showing up for duty looking like they’ve spent an hour in the sauna. This is doubly true for that person’s co-workers.
Kia neatly solves this problem with the Rio LX+ Manual, a trim which is equipped with conditioned air for $1500 more than the proletariat LX. The brand also tosses in a few ancillaries – colour-keyed door handles, splash guards, and cruise control – as part of the deal. Thanks to that show of generosity, particularly the addition of cruise control, it is the one we recommend.