The 2012 Kia Rio was Consumer Reports' top-rated compact sedan. (Kia )
In a smackdown of South Korean sub-compacts, the Kia Rio EX outpointed the Accent from sister company Hyundai as the top-rated sedan of that size in Consumer Reports' latest tests.
Chevrolet's Sonic, the American entrant in the magazine's ratings, as well as the Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris, both from Japan, scored lower.
"Subcompact cars were once collectively known as penalty boxes for their noisiness, rudimentary interiors, uncomfortable rides, and weak performance. But now improved redesigns, combined with an affordable prices and impressive fuel economy, make a number of subcompact models good all-around choices for people looking to stretch their budget," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center.
The magazine said the Kia Rio "is a solid and well-equipped car" that "benefits from nimble handling and very simple controls and provides plenty of features for the price."
The Kia Rio EX sedan the magazine tested has a sticker price of $17,275 and is powered by a 138 hp, 1.6-four-cylinder engine that has decent power and gets 30 mpg overall.
The Hyundai Accent shares its platform and powertrain with the Rio but gets better fuel economy, about 1 mile per gallon better in Consumer Reports' testing. It has a sticker price of $16,050 and is powered by a 138 hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and what the magazine described as a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. But Consumer Reports dinged the car for a bumpy ride at times as well as road and wind noise.
The Chevrolet Sonic has responsive handling and excellent brakes, according to the review, but was more expensive -- nearly $18,000 -- and at 28 mpg had poorer fuel economy than other entrants in this segment.
Consumer Reports said the Nissan Versa sedan was a step backward from previous versions of the car and was at the bottom of the magazine’s ratings.
It also knocked the Toyota Yaris, calling it "bare-bones transportation" with a noisy, choppy ride and an "austere" interior.
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