By Don Armstrong
Whether you’re shopping for basic transportation with the latest safety features, necessities and functionality or you want to stand out from the crowd with something completely different, we have a couple ideas you’ll want to know about.
Kia is quickly gaining a foothold among traditional Toyota buyers who are looking for reliable, affordable transportation in a conservative package with modern styling. Starting under $14,000, the Kia Rio delivers on the key elements that made the Corolla so successful.
The Rio is available in two forms, the sedan and hatchback and both are competitively attractive in their two segments. Each vehicle’s front fascia is identical, with Kia’s pinched-in-the-middle grille and large, open-mouth lower air intake. The hatch features a single rear door that, when open and the rear seats are folded down, will gobble up more cargo than you think.
An attractive, functional dash layout, center console and plenty of storage address the needs of the masses. An easy-to-use 5-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard. Seating is comfortable and coverings attractive but, as you would expect at this price point, there are a lot of hard plastic surfaces.
Power comes from a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 130-horsepower through a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission delivering an average of 32-mpg.
Toyota’s newest family member, C-HR, is an adopted sibling from the now defunct Scion brand.
We’d like to compare the C-HR to the funky Nissan Juke, without the freaky front-end and its bug-eyed lighting.
The C-HR designation is rumored to stand for compact high rider, which is a fitting description for this subcompact. Think of it as a hatchback with highly sculpted features – especially when viewed from the side – sporting a slightly taller stance in a mini-crossover package. An optional white roof gives the runabout a sporty, look-at-me swagger.
The interior isn’t quite as flamboyant as the exterior but still has plenty of thoughtful character. A swoopy, well designed dash, contrasting textures and quality materials will make your commute or road trip more enjoyable.
The ride is state of the art and worthy of a twisty jaunt through the hill country.
The C-HR’s motivation comes from a 144-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine that is married to a continuously variable transmission. For a few, this combination delivers a blah response, for others, it’s the perfect matchup.
MSRP starts at $22,500.