2019 Nissan Versa Note vs. 2019 Kia Rio

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Versa Note SL has a standard Around View® Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Rio only offers a rear monitor.

Both the Versa Note 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 and rearview cameras.

Warranty

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

There are over 40 percent more Nissan dealers than there are Kia dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Versa Note’s warranty.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Versa Note gets better fuel mileage than the Rio (31 city/39 hwy vs. 28 city/37 hwy).

Transmission

The Versa Note has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Rio doesn’t offer a CVT.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Versa Note SR’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Rio (195/55R16 vs. 185/65R15).

The Versa Note SR’s 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 65 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Versa Note SR has standard 16-inch wheels. The Rio’s largest wheels are only 15-inches.

The Versa Note (except S) offers an optional easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Rio doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Versa Note has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Versa Note flat and controlled during cornering. The Rio’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The Versa Note 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 Versa Note’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (59.9% to 40.1%) than the Rio’s (61.9% to 38.1%). This gives the Versa Note more stable handling and braking.

Chassis

The Nissan Versa Note may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 250 pounds less than the Kia Rio.

The front grille of the Versa Note uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Rio doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Versa Note a Compact car, while the Rio 5-Door is rated a Small Station Wagon.

The Versa Note has 3.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Rio 5-Door (94.1 vs. 90.5).

Cargo Capacity

The Versa Note has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Rio 5-Door with its rear seat up (18.8 vs. 17.4 cubic feet). The Versa Note has a much larger trunk with its rear seat folded than the Rio 5-Door with its rear seat folded (38.3 vs. 32.8 cubic feet).

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

Ergonomics

The Intelligent Key optional on the Versa Note (except S) 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 Versa Note SL 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 Versa Note SR 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.

To direct the driver from any location to a given street address, a GPS navigation system is available on the Versa Note (except S Plus/SV). The Versa Note’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 available voice command, the Versa Note 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 Versa Note is less expensive to operate than the Rio because it costs $180 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Versa Note than the Rio, including $61 less for a water pump, $56 less for a muffler, $1 less for front struts and $17 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The Nissan Versa outsold the Kia Rio by over three to one during 2018.

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

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