Kia packs 2018 Rio with more tech

The 2018 Kia Rio 5-door, shown, and sedan feature a more refined and squared-off front end with a thinner and wider "tiger nose" grille.

NEW YORK -- When the fourth-generation Kia Rio arrives at U.S. dealerships this year, customers will find sharper styling and more available tech features on the subcompact.

The New York auto show marked the U.S. debut of the 2018 Rio sedan and 5-door variant. Kia first unveiled the redesigned 5-door in September at the Paris auto show. Styling of the sedan and 5-door was led by Kia’s design centers in Frankfurt, Germany, and Irvine, Calif., which worked closely with the company’s main styling studio in Namyang, South Korea.

Both Rios now feature a more refined and squared-off front end with a thinner and wider “tiger nose” grille. The rear of the Rios are now more upright.

The latest Rios sit on an all-new platform, are larger than the outgoing models and are now underpinned by new suspension geometry. The spring and damper setup has also been revised.

The sedan and 5-door are lower and wider for “a more balanced and athletic stance compared to the outgoing model,” Kia says.

U.S. customers can choose from a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission in the sedan and 5-door. A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine produces 130 hp and 119 pounds-feet of torque in both variants.

Inside, Kia said it updated the instrument panel and interior materials and redesigned the front seats.

The top trim, EX, features a 7-inch touch screen that is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

“This fourth-generation Rio makes significant improvements over its predecessor in design, technology and passenger comfort, resulting in an even better value proposition for our customers, while raising the bar in the small-car segment,” Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning at Kia Motors America, said in a statement.

U.S. sales of the Rio slumped 43 percent to 3,072 in the first three months of 2016 after rising 21 percent to 28,700 last year in a weak car market overall.

Pricing for both 2018 Rio variants will be released later.

You can reach Jack Walsworth at jwalsworth@crain.com -- Follow Jack on Twitter: @jackwalsworth

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