2019 Toyota Prius c vs. 2019 Kia Rio

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Prius c has standard Whiplash-Injury Lessening Seats (WIL), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WIL system allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Rio doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Prius c’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The Rio doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Prius c’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.

Both the Prius c 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 and rearview cameras.

Warranty

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

Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Prius c for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Rio.

There are over 59 percent more Toyota dealers than there are Kia dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Prius c’s warranty.

Reliability

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 Prius c’s reliability 43 points higher than the Rio.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Kia is ranked 10th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Kia is ranked fifth.

Engine

The Prius c’s 1.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (125 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Prius c gets better fuel mileage than the Rio (48 city/43 hwy vs. 28 city/37 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the Prius c’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Rio doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Prius c’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.

Transmission

The Prius c 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.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the Prius c’s turning circle is 2.1 feet tighter than the Rio’s (31.4 feet vs. 33.5 feet).

Chassis

The Prius c is 10.2 inches shorter than the Rio Sedan, making the Prius c easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

The Prius c has a much larger trunk than the Rio Sedan (17.1 vs. 13.7 cubic feet).

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Prius c’s hatch uses gas strut supported hinges that don’t intrude into the cargo area. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Rio Sedan’s useful trunk space.

The Prius c’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 Prius c 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 Prius c’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 Prius c’s driver’s power window opens or closes with one touch of the window control, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths. The Rio S/EX’s power windows’ switch has to be held the entire time to close it fully.

Smart Key System standard on the Prius c LE 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 Prius c detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Rio doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Prius c’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 Prius c 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 standard on the Prius c LE. The Prius c’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 Prius c 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 Prius c is less expensive to operate than the Rio because it costs $216 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Prius c than the Rio, including $154 less for a muffler, $4 less for front brake pads and $48 less for front struts.

Recommendations

The Toyota Prius outsold the Kia Rio by almost four to one during 2018.

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

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