2019 Fiat 500L vs. 2019 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.

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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available rear parking sensors.

The Fiat 500L weighs 540 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.


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 130-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.


The 500L’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. produces 30 more horsepower (160 vs. 130) and 65 lbs.-ft. more torque (184 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

The 500L has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Rio (13.2 vs. 11.9 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.

Brakes and Stopping

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




Front Rotors

12 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

10.4 inches

8” drums

The Fiat 500L 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 500L stops shorter than the Rio:





60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

138 feet

140 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. 185/65R15).

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’s standard 65 series tires. The 500L Trekking/Lounge’s tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Rio’s 65 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 500L Pop has standard 16-inch wheels. Only 15-inch wheels are available on the Rio. The 500L Trekking/Lounge has standard 17-inch wheels.

Suspension and Handling

The 500L 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.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 500L’s wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than on the Rio (102.8 inches vs. 101.6 inches).

The 500L’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (60% to 40%) than the Rio’s (61.9% to 38.1%). This gives the 500L more stable handling and braking.

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

For better maneuverability, the 500L’s turning circle is 1.2 feet tighter than the Rio’s (32.3 feet vs. 33.5 feet).


As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the 500L Lounge is quieter than the Rio 5-Door (79 vs. 82 dB).

Passenger Space

The 500L has 8.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Rio 5-Door (98.8 vs. 90.5).

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 volume with its rear seat up than the Rio 5-Door with its rear seat up (22.4 vs. 17.4 cubic feet). The 500L has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Rio 5-Door with its rear seat folded (68 vs. 32.8 cubic feet).

The 500L’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The Rio LX doesn’t offer folding rear seats.


To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the 500L 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 500L’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 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/EX’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically.

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.

The 500L Trekking/Lounge has standard heated front seats, which keep the driver and front passenger extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated seats aren’t available in the Rio.

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.

For greater rear passenger comfort, the 500L 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 500L. The 500L’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 500L 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.

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.

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

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