2018 Fiat 500L vs. 2017 Kia Rio

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The 500L has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Rio doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The 500L’s blind spot mirrors use wide-angle convex mirrors mounted in the corner of each side view mirror to reveal objects that may be in the driver’s blind spots. The Rio doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

Compared to metal, the 500L’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Kia Rio has a metal gas tank.

Both the 500L and the Rio have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and available rear parking sensors.

The Fiat 500L weighs 522 to 760 pounds more than the Kia Rio. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

In a 31 MPH side-impact test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crashes a 3300 pound sled into the side of new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Fiat 500L is safer than the Rio:




Overall Evaluation








Head Protection Rating



Head Injury Rating



Torso Injury Rating



Pelvis/Leg Injury Rating



Head Injury Criterion



Shoulder Movement

26 mm

46 mm


Rear Passenger

Head Protection Rating



Head Injury Rating



Torso Injury Rating



Pelvis/Leg Injury Rating




The 500L’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Rio runs out after 100,000 miles.


The Fiat 500L’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the Rio’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

The engine in the 500L has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engine in the Rio has dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the 500L has a standard 150-amp alternator. The Rio’s standard 90-amp alternator and largest (optional) 110-amp alternator aren’t as powerful.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the 500L has a standard 500-amp battery. The Rio’s 410-amp battery isn’t as powerful.


The 500L’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. produces 22 more horsepower (160 vs. 138) and 61 lbs.-ft. more torque (184 vs. 123) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Fiat 500L is faster than the Kia Rio (automatics tested):




Zero to 60 MPH

8.9 sec

9.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

23.7 sec

28.3 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

9.5 sec

10.1 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

4.6 sec

4.8 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

5.8 sec

6.8 sec

Quarter Mile

16.9 sec

17.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

86 MPH

81 MPH

Top Speed

126 MPH

121 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The 500L has 1.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the Rio (13.2 vs. 11.4 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

The 500L has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Rio doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.


The Fiat 500L comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Rio.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 500L’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Rio:




Rio SX 5-Door Hatchback

Front Rotors

12 inches

10.1 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

10.4 inches

10.3 inches

10.3 inches

In an emergency stopping situation, many drivers don’t press the brakes with enough force to stop the vehicle in the shortest distance. The 500L has a standard brake assist system to detect emergency braking situations (by how hard and how quickly the brake pedal is pressed) and then automatically apply maximum braking immediately in order to help prevent a collision. The Rio doesn’t offer a brake assist feature.

The 500L stops much shorter than the Rio:





70 to 0 MPH

169 feet

183 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

121 feet

135 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

138 feet

148 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the 500L has larger standard tires than the Rio (205/55R16 vs. 185/65R15). The 500L Trekking/Lounge’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Rio (225/45R17 vs. 205/45R17).

The 500L Pop’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Rio LX/EX’s standard 65 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 500L Pop has standard 16-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Rio LX/EX.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 500L’s wheelbase is 1.6 inches longer than on the Rio (102.8 inches vs. 101.2 inches).

The 500L’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (60% to 40%) than the Rio’s (62.2% to 37.8%). This gives the 500L more stable handling and braking.

The 500L Lounge handles at .82 G’s, while the Rio SX 5-Door Hatchback pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The 500L Trekking executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Rio EX 5-Door Hatchback (28.2 seconds @ .58 average G’s vs. 28.6 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the 500L’s turning circle is 1.2 feet tighter than the Rio LX/EX’s (32.3 feet vs. 33.5 feet). The 500L’s turning circle is 2.2 feet tighter than the Rio SX’s (32.3 feet vs. 34.5 feet).


As tested by Car and Driver while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the 500L Lounge is quieter than the Rio SX 5-Door Hatchback (70 vs. 71 dB).

Passenger Space

The 500L has 10.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Rio (98.8 vs. 88.4).

The 500L has .7 inches more front headroom, 2.8 inches more front hip room, 4.2 inches more front shoulder room, 1.1 inches more rear headroom, 5.6 inches more rear legroom and 2.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Rio.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the 500L’s rear seats recline. The Rio’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The 500L has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the Rio 5-Door Hatchback with its rear seat up (22.4 vs. 15 cubic feet). The 500L has a much larger trunk with its rear seat folded than the Rio 5-Door Hatchback with its rear seat folded (68 vs. 49.8 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the 500L easier. The 500L’s trunk lift-over height is 25.9 inches, while the Rio’s liftover is 28.1 inches.


The 500L’s standard power windows allow the driver or passenger to lower and raise the windows without leaning over or being distracted. Power windows cost extra on the Rio.

The 500L’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Rio’s optional passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

The 500L’s standard power locks allow the driver or passenger to lock or unlock all the doors at a touch without leaning over, or reaching to the back seat. Power locks cost extra on the Rio.

The 500L’s speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Rio’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Consumer Reports rated the 500L’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the Rio’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

The 500L Trekking/Lounge has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Rio doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The 500L’s optional dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Rio doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The 500L’s optional automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Rio doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

Bluetooth wireless connectivity is standard on the 500L, connecting the driver and passenger’s cell phones to the vehicle systems. This allows them to use the vehicle’s stereo and hand controls to place calls safely and easily. Bluetooth costs extra on the Rio.

The 500L Lounge has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Rio doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the 500L owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the 500L will cost $415 to $1305 less than the Rio over a five-year period.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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