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The Elantra Sedan (except SE)’s 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 Elantra Sedan (except SE)’s 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 Elantra Sedan (except SE)’s 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 Elantra Sedan (except SE)’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Rio doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
The Elantra Sedan (except SE/SEL/Eco) offers an optional Blue Link, 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 Elantra Sedan and the Rio have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available crash mitigating brakes.
The Elantra Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 2 years and unlimited miles longer than the Rio’s (7/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).
A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Elantra Sedan’s reliability 18 points higher than the Rio.
The Elantra Sedan Eco’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. produces 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (156 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. The Elantra Sedan’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 17 more horsepower (147 vs. 130) and 13 lbs.-ft. more torque (132 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. The Elantra Sedan Sport’s standard 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. produces 71 more horsepower (201 vs. 130) and 76 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.
As tested in Car and Driver the Elantra Sedan Eco is faster than the Kia Rio (automatics tested):
Zero to 60 MPH
Zero to 100 MPH
5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start
Speed in 1/4 Mile
On the EPA test cycle the Elantra Sedan Eco gets better fuel mileage than the Rio (32 city/40 hwy vs. 28 city/37 hwy).
On the EPA test cycle the Elantra Sedan 15" wheels Auto with its standard engine gets better fuel mileage than the Rio (29 city/38 hwy vs. 28 city/37 hwy).
The Elantra Sedan has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Rio (14 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
The Elantra Sedan offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The Rio doesn’t offer a manual transmission.
A seven-speed automatic (SMG) is available on the Hyundai Elantra Sedan, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Rio.
The Elantra Sedan offers an available sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Rio doesn’t offer an SMG.
For better stopping power the Elantra Sedan Sport’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Rio:
The Elantra Sedan SEL/Value Edition/Limited has standard antilock 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.
For better traction, the Elantra Sedan has larger standard tires than the Rio (195/65R15 vs. 185/65R15). The Elantra Sedan Limited’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Rio (225/45R17 vs. 185/65R15).
The Elantra Sedan Sport’s 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 Elantra Sedan Sport has standard 18-inch wheels. The Rio’s largest wheels are only 15-inches.
The Hyundai Elantra Sedan’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.
For superior ride and handling, the Elantra Sedan Sport has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Kia Rio has a solid rear axle, with a non-independent rear suspension.
The Elantra Sedan Sport has front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Elantra Sedan Sport flat and controlled during cornering. The Rio’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.
The Elantra Sedan 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 Elantra Sedan’s wheelbase is 4.7 inches longer than on the Rio (106.3 inches vs. 101.6 inches).
For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Elantra Sedan is 1.1 inches wider in the front and 1.4 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Rio.
Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Elantra Sedan a Mid-size car, while the Rio Sedan is rated a Compact.
The Elantra Sedan has 5.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Rio Sedan (95.8 vs. 89.9).
The Elantra Sedan has .1 inches more front legroom, .5 inches more front hip room, 2.1 inches more front shoulder room, 2.2 inches more rear legroom and 2 inches more rear shoulder room than the Rio Sedan.
The Elantra Sedan has a larger trunk than the Rio Sedan (14.4 vs. 13.7 cubic feet).
The Elantra Sedan’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The Rio LX doesn’t offer folding rear seats.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just waiting momentarily behind the back bumper can open the Elantra Sedan Value Edition/Eco/Sport/Limited’s trunk, leaving your hands completely free. The Rio doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Elantra Sedan 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.
When two different drivers share the Elantra Sedan Limited, the optional memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Rio doesn’t offer a memory system.
The Elantra Sedan Limited’s optional Seat Easy Access glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Rio doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The Elantra Sedan’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 Elantra Sedan SEL/Value Edition/Eco/Sport/Limited’s driver’s power window opens or closes with one touch of the window control. The Rio’s driver’s power window switch has to be held the entire time to close it fully.
The Proximity Key standard on the Elantra Sedan Value Edition/Eco/Sport/Limited 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.
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Elantra Sedan Sport/Limited detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Rio doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Elantra Sedan Limited has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Rio doesn’t offer cornering lights.
When the Elantra Sedan Limited with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Rio’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
The Elantra Sedan Value Edition/Eco/Sport/Limited has standard heated front and second row seats (second row heated seats optional on Limited) extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated seats aren’t available in the Rio.
The Elantra Sedan Sport/Limited 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 Elantra Sedan (except SE/SEL)’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 Elantra Sedan (except SE/SEL)’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 Elantra Sedan has standard rear heat vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The Rio doesn’t offer rear vents.
To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Elantra Sedan Limited offers an optional Smart Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Rio doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.
To direct the driver from any location to a given street address, a GPS navigation system is available on the Elantra Sedan Limited/Sport. The Elantra Sedan’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 Elantra Sedan 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 Elantra Sedan will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Elantra Sedan will retain 45.03% to 46.12% of its original price after five years, while the Rio only retains 36.09% to 44.46%.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Elantra Sedan is less expensive to operate than the Rio because typical repairs cost less on the Elantra Sedan than the Rio, including $28 less for a water pump, $58 less for a muffler, $34 less for front brake pads, $31 less for a starter, $2 less for fuel injection, $31 less for a fuel pump and $7 less for front struts.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Hyundai Elantra Sedan, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Kia Rio isn't recommended.
The Hyundai Elantra outsold the Kia Rio by almost 9 to one during 2018.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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