The Kia Rio won’t return for 2024, according to an Automotive News report from Tuesday. That leaves just two budget cars left that can be bought new for less than $20,000, and one of those will be discontinued in 2025.
The Kia Rio subcompact sedan and hatchback follow the path of the Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Veloster, Chevy Spark, and other discontinued entry cars sacrificed at the altar of taller, larger, more popular, and more expensive crossover SUVs.
The base Rio LX sedan costs just $17,875, including a $1,125 destination fee. It comes relatively well-equipped with power features, air conditioning, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and 15-inch steel wheels.
The 120-hp inline-4 is functional, and a continuously variable automatic transmission powering only the front wheels helps it attain 36 mpg combined, which along with Kia’s 5-year/60,000-mile warranty minimizes the cost of ownership.
The five-door Rio hatchback costs $940 more, but otherwise is the same except for more cargo volume.
The Rio S tops the lineup at $18,515 and adds key driver-assist systems such as automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and automatic high beams.
With an average new car transaction price exceeding $47,000, it seems as if the U.S. market has moved away from budget cars. Yet the Rio was a veritable budget-car bestseller. In the first half of 2023, it sold 14,196 Rio in the U.S., down from 14,918 the year before. That’s considerably better than the only other remaining new cars that can be bought for less than $20,000: the 2023 Nissan Versa ($17,075) and the 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback ($17,340).
Nissan sold 11,014 Versas in the first half of 2023, while Mitsubishi sold just 5,316 Mirages. That helps explain why Mitsubishi will be discontinuing the Mirage subcompact car and hatchback by 2025, as reported last week.
That will leave the Nissan Versa as the only new car with a sticker price and destination fee below $20,000. It’s the only one of the three to come standard with a 5-speed manual. Adding a CVT adds another $1,670 to the Versa’s price, to $18,745.
Kia appears to be repurposing its Monterrey, Mexico factory where the Rio is made to make small electric vehicles, according to Automotive News. But the Kia Forte compact sedan is also built there, and is the brand’s second bestselling vehicle in the U.S. behind the Kia Sportage compact crossover.
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