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The 500 has standard Reactive Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Reactive Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Rio doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
The 500’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.
Both the 500 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 and available rear parking sensors.
The 500’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Rio runs out after 100,000 miles.
The Fiat 500’s engines use 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 engines in the 500 have 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.
The 500’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. produces 5 more horsepower (135 vs. 130) and 31 lbs.-ft. more torque (150 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. The 500 Abarth’s optional 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. produces 27 more horsepower (157 vs. 130) and 64 lbs.-ft. more torque (183 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. The 500 Abarth’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. produces 30 more horsepower (160 vs. 130) and 51 lbs.-ft. more torque (170 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.
The 500 offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The Rio doesn’t offer a manual transmission.
The Fiat 500 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.
The 500 stops shorter than the Rio:
60 to 0 MPH
60 to 0 MPH (Wet)
For better traction, the 500 has larger standard tires than the Rio (195/45R16 vs. 185/65R15). The 500 Abarth’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Rio (205/40R17 vs. 185/65R15).
The 500’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Rio’s standard 65 series tires. The 500 Abarth’s optional tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Rio’s 65 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 500 has standard 16-inch wheels. Only 15-inch wheels are available on the Rio. The 500 Abarth offers optional 17-inch wheels.
The 500 Abarth has front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the 500 Abarth flat and controlled during cornering. The Rio’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.
The 500 has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Rio doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
The Fiat 500 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 150 to 200 pounds less than the Kia Rio.
The 500 is 1 foot, 3.6 inches shorter than the Rio 5-Door, making the 500 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces. The 500 is 2 feet, 4.2 inches shorter than the Rio Sedan.
To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the 500’s hatch uses gas strut supported hinges that don’t intrude into the cargo area. The Rio’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge (except wagon).
The 500’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The Rio LX doesn’t offer folding rear seats.
The 500’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 500’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.
The 500’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 500’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the Rio’s headlights, which were rated “Good.”
The 500 (except Pop) 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.
The 500’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.
To direct the driver from any location to a given street address, a GPS navigation system is available on the 500. The 500’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 standard voice command, the 500 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.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 500 is less expensive to operate than the Rio because it costs $144 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the 500 than the Rio, including $105 less for a muffler, $63 less for a starter, $99 less for front struts and $89 less for a timing belt/chain.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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