Ready for commitment

David Yochum

Kia rolls with top industry warranty

Put 10 years in perspective.

That’s enough time to earn two, four-year degrees and take two years of vacation for surviving a decade of college.

Kia, owner of the automotive industry’s best warranty, includes 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain protection with every new vehicle it sells – the 2006 Rio-5 is no exception.

Advertised as having more passenger space than the Honda Civic or Chevrolet Cobalt, Rio-5 comes standard with dual remote mirrors and side-curtain airbags. Beyond CD player and air conditioning, our hatchback flaunted a power package, tweeter speakers and keyless entry.

BENEFITS/ DRAWBACKS

+ Decade-long warranty

+ Heated mirrors

+ Standard side airbags

– Needs horsepower

– Vanilla styling

– Heavy steering

Unlocking one of the lowest priced vehicles in The $16,000 Challenge, students stared at a compact, basic interior with easy-to-read dials.

Dinovo compared the Rio-5 to a scaled down Pontiac Vibe without a passenger side armrest. However, Rogers thought the Rio5 was missing more.

“Everywhere you look is plastic,” he said. “There’s nothing to it – no style.”

Still talking about the Rio-5’s “ridiculous” warranty, Sheth found positives about the Kia’s front-end, citing good gas mileage and big headlights that are “probably bright for night driving.”

During the day, the Kia’s huge lights weren’t a factor, but students could have used a bigger engine.

KIA RIO-5

Base price: $14,350

Price as-tested: $14,890

Engine: 1.6L DOHC 16V 4-cylinder

HP @ rpm: 110 @ 6000

Torque @ rpm: [email protected] 4500

Transmission: 4-speed auto

Base weight (lbs): 2,487

EPA mpg (city/highway): 29/38

Common Rio-5 complaints focused on weak, unresponsive acceleration from a four-cylinder engine. Asking 110-hp to move nearly 3,000 lbs, the Rio-5 struggled throughout Ravenna, and making the powerless hatchback stop proved nearly as difficult.

Sheth and Rogers found too much play in the Rio5’s brake pedal and not enough in steering. Fighting with a heavy wheel, Rogers felt the car wanted to turn itself.

“If you had bad alignment this would be hard to compensate,” he said.

Poor braking, handling and acceleration, the Rio5 is still covered under warranty for years to come.