2019 Chevrolet Cruze vs. 2019 Kia Rio

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Cruze are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Rio doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Cruze Premier’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Rio doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Cruze (except L/LS)’s optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The Rio doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

To help make backing safer, the Cruze (except L/LS)’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Rio doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Cruze has standard OnStar®, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions, remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Rio doesn’t offer a GPS response system, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Cruze 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes and rear parking sensors.

Warranty

The Cruze’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Rio’s (6/100,000 vs. 5/100,000).

Chevrolet pays for the first scheduled maintenance on the Cruze. Chevrolet will pay for the first oil change, lubrication and any other required maintenance in the first year. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Rio.

There are almost 4 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Kia dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Cruze’s warranty.

Reliability

The Cruze has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Rio doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the car’s engine.

Engine

The Cruze’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. produces 23 more horsepower (153 vs. 130) and 58 lbs.-ft. more torque (177 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

The Cruze’s 1.6 turbo diesel produces 7 more horsepower (137 vs. 130) and 121 lbs.-ft. more torque (240 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Chevrolet Cruze 1.4 turbo is faster than the Kia Rio:

 

Cruze

Rio

Zero to 30 MPH

2.6 sec

3 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.6 sec

8.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

21.6 sec

25 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

8 sec

8.9 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

4.1 sec

4.2 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

5.2 sec

6.1 sec

Quarter Mile

15.9 sec

16.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

89 MPH

85 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Cruze Diesel Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the Rio (31 city/48 hwy vs. 28 city/37 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the Cruze Sedan turbo 4 cyl. gets better fuel mileage than the Rio (30 city/38 hwy vs. 28 city/37 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Cruze’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Rio doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Cruze Diesel’s standard fuel tank has 1.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Rio (13.5 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Cruze’s standard fuel tank has 1.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the Rio (13.7 vs. 11.9 gallons).

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Chevrolet Cruze, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Rio.

Brakes and Stopping

The Chevrolet Cruze has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Rio. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Cruze has larger standard tires than the Rio (195/65R15 vs. 185/65R15). The Cruze Premier’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Rio (225/45R17 vs. 185/65R15).

The Cruze Premier RS’ tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Rio’s 65 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Cruze Premier RS has standard 18-inch wheels. The Rio’s largest wheels are only 15-inches.

The Chevrolet Cruze’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Kia Rio only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Cruze’s wheelbase is 4.7 inches longer than on the Rio (106.3 inches vs. 101.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Cruze is .8 inches wider in the front and 1.1 inches wider in the rear than on the Rio.

Passenger Space

The Cruze has 4.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Rio Sedan (94 vs. 89.9).

The Cruze Sedan has .3 inches more front hip room, .8 inches more front shoulder room and 2.6 inches more rear legroom than the Rio Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The Cruze Sedan has a much larger trunk than the Rio Sedan (14.8 vs. 13.7 cubic feet).

The Cruze’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The Rio LX doesn’t offer folding rear seats.

Ergonomics

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Cruze has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The Rio doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

The Cruze’s standard power windows allow the driver or passenger to lower and raise the windows without leaning over or being distracted. Power windows are only available on the Rio S/EX.

The Cruze’s front power windows lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Rio S/EX’s passenger windows don’t open automatically.

Keyless Access optional on the Cruze (except L/LS) allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Kia Rio doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Cruze’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.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Cruze Premier detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Rio doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Cruze (except L/LS) offers optional heated front seats, which keep the driver and front passenger extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated seats aren’t available in the Rio.

On extremely cold winter days, the Cruze’s optional (except L/LS/LT) heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Rio doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Cruze LT/Diesel/Premier 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 Cruze LT/Premier’s standard 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.

For greater rear passenger comfort, the Cruze has standard rear heat vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The Rio doesn’t offer rear vents.

To direct the driver from any location to a given street address, a GPS navigation system is available on the Cruze Premier. The Cruze’s navigation system also has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Rio doesn’t offer a navigation system.

With optional voice command, the Cruze LT Auto/Premier offers the driver hands free control of the radio and the navigation computer by simply speaking. The Rio doesn’t offer a voice control system.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Cruze is less expensive to operate than the Rio because typical repairs cost less on the Cruze than the Rio, including $13 less for front struts and $13 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Chevrolet Cruze, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Kia Rio isn't recommended.

The Chevrolet Cruze outsold the Kia Rio by over six to one during 2018.

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

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