Introducing the 2016 Kia Sorento


Might as well get it out of the way right now; there are a lot of versions of the 2016 Kia Sorento. Specifically, there are five. On paper, that doesn’t seem so bad. But let’s not forget that there are also three engines that can fit under the hood of some of them, in addition to front-wheel and all-wheel drivetrains. In short, Kia seems to have decided to try and please everyone.

MONT-TREMBLANT, Quebec – In the end, the Korean manufacturer will probably reach that goal because, regardless of the version, the 2016 Kia Sorento is solid and well executed as a whole. On the other hand, one wonders whether Kia will be able to meet demand, and will there be enough of each version available so as to not let anyone down. We shall see.

I will not dwell on the 2016 Sorento’s styling because ultimately, everyone has an opinion and the one that counts is really the buyer’s. However, I want to mention that visually, the new Sorento has lost some of its personality.

It’s not that it’s ugly or anything, but it certainly doesn’t stand out in a crowd. I have said the same thing of several other recent models from other automakers; I still think it’s not that I’m necessarily difficult, but rather that the manufacturers want to avoid making a mistake at all cost by being too entrepreneurial when it comes to design. Whatever the reason, I preferred the old Sorento from a purely visual point of view. That said, that is about it when it comes to things the previous-generation Sorento did better than the new model.

The interior, for example, is more ergonomic, more spacious, and nicer to look at. Take the centre console as a starting point. Sober with big buttons that are easy to find, it proves quite user-friendly. The eight-inch central display offered on the SX versions is easy to navigate while displaying a useful image of the surroundings of the vehicle through the various cameras. We will return shortly to the various features offered in the different versions, but in short, the central screen is appreciated in the SX versions, while a bit small, but still practical in the other trims. The UVO infotainment system is easy to operate and the small buttons on the side of the screen allow quick access to the menu you want. The idea of ​​separating the climate controls from the rest of the centre stack also makes things easier. In terms of space, the 2016 Sorento offers more legroom in each of the rows, including the third, only available on the V6 versions. Kia says it has facilitated access to the last row, but like all models in the segment with the capacity to accommodate seven people, these two additional passengers will be need to be small. Very small. If such is the case, then yes, access is easy and legroom is reasonable. Also, if you fill the Sorento to full capacity, your passengers will need to travel light. With five people on board and the last row lowered or not added, the Sorento offers 1,099 litres of cargo space (or 1,077 litres in models with seven seats). That’s less than what is offered in the Toyota Highlander, the new Nissan Murano, or the Hyundai Santa Fe, but be aware that the Sorento straddles the midsize and compact SUV segments. It provides a kind of compromise between exterior dimensions and interior space, and roominess remains globally adequate for most needs. The 2016 Sorento offers several fabric options and colours inside. The design of the leather seats in the SX is particularly stylish while the fabric of the entry-level trims is protected against stains and dirt right from the factory. A lot of engines The 2016 Kia Sorento offers three engines, with the real news being the 2.0-litre turbo four developing 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque made available between 1,450 and 3,500 rpm. Giving the Sorento a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs., the turbo offers an interesting compromise between fuel economy and performance. On the road, it responds quickly and provides impressive acceleration when passing. The entry-level engine is still a 2.4-litre four-cylinder that makes 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, and that can tow 2,000 lbs., while the high-end engine remains the 3.3-litre V6 developing 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. The V6 engine’s 5,000 lbs. of towing capacity probably explains why this is the most popular engine among buyers, at least those who bought the previous generation. On the road, it offers a reassuring level of performance that is sufficiently improved compared to the turbo, in order to justify its presence in the engine line-up. The V6 is only available with all-wheel drive, while the other two can be matched to front-wheel drive or AWD. Every Sorento we drove at the launch in Mont-Tremblant were equipped with AWD and I was impressed with the stability of the SUV on roads covered with hard, rather slippery snow. To get to your secluded cottage, or simply to survive a tough winter like the one we are experiencing, the Sorento will be up to the task, even more so with winter tires mounted on the original 18- or 19-inch wheels found on the EX and SX versions respectively. When the road is clear, the Sorento 2016 is comfortable and quiet. It really takes strong winds to disturb the tranquility of the cockpit as Kia engineers worked hard to improve soundproofing. What one notices immediately after taking the wheel of the Sorento is that it seems solid and composed, and is easy to drive. Steering responded well, the brakes are progressive, and acceleration is linear, regardless of the engine. Behind the wheel, you quickly feel at ease. Comfort is first and foremost, but performance is more than acceptable with the turbo engine and the V6. If you want to change how the Sorento performs, there are three driving modes available to the driver: Normal, Eco and Sport. They change the behavior of the transmission, engine, and steering in order to modify the personality of the Sorento. Although the difference between Normal and Sport is minimal, Eco mode is noticeable and will be used by those who value fuel economy above all. Features, lots and lots of features If there is something that stands out about Kia is the impressive amount of features found in their models, especially on the higher trims. The 2016 Sorento is no exception and offers just about everything one could want in terms of luxury equipment. The EX version, starting at $35,595, probably offers the best value. It comes standard with a heated steering wheel, power-adjustable leather seats with position memory function, dual-zone climate control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic warning. To all these elements are added the backup camera and smart key, available from the LX+ version priced at $30,695. The camera and the key could have been offered in the base version starting at $27,495, but hey, we can’t have it all. The entry-level LX still offers air conditioning, 17-inch wheels, satellite radio, heated front seats, cruise control and tinted windows. Finally, the $42,095 SX trim includes a navigation system, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, better-quality leather upholstery, a power front passenger seat and an Infinity audio system, among a ton of other features. Fully-equipped SX+ versions add several active safety systems including adaptive cruise control, 360-degre monitoring thanks to four cameras, lane departure warning and forward collision warning. However, at $46,695 before taxes, it’s getting a bit pricey. Note also that the SX models offer an intelligent power tailgate that automatically opens when the key holder stands less than a metre from the back of the vehicle. No need to wiggle your foot or make any other weird gesture, and you do not need to touch the key or the tailgate either. It’s smart and convenient, but again, it’s only offered on the SX. In conclusion, the 2016 Kia Sorento is improved from almost every standpoint. Primarily focused on comfort, it also offers more-than-satisfactory performance. However, it lacks a little space compared to competing vehicles sold for the same price, but the importance of this reality will depend mostly on the individual needs of each consumer, because in the end, the difference is not that huge.

2015 Kia Sedona named to Ward’s 10 Best Interiors List


IRVINE, CAApril 16, 2015 /CNW/ – Kia Motors America’s (KMA) all-new 2015 Sedona has earned a spot on the Ward’s 10 Best Interiors list. The Sedona was recognized by the editors for its impressive interior style, comfort, and overall execution, including the available second-row “First-Class” lounge seating.

“The all-new Sedona completes Kia’s design-led transformation under the direction of chief design officer Peter Schreyer. It combines CUV styling, inside and out, with exceptional quality and offers unique interior features,” saidOrth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, KMA. “This is the second-consecutive year that Kia has earned a spot on the Ward’s 10 Best Interiors list, following last year’s inclusion of the ultra-popular Soul. This award is a testament to Kia’s continued commitment to world-class quality and top-notch design that is as beautiful as it is functional.”

Starting at $27,495, the completely transformed Sedona comes in seven- and eight-passenger seating configurations and offers available Nappa leather trimmed seating surfaces. Exclusive Slide-N-Stow second-row seats slide and fold upright for enhanced cargo hauling without the hassle of removing heavy seats. Sedona’s front center console is unique to the segment and allows for generous storage space between the front seats, while the large dual glove box offers a cooled lower storage area for convenience.

“Minivans may not be as popular as they used to be, but the all-new Kia Sedona gives us reason to think this segment is in store for a resurgence,” said Tom Murphy, executive editor, WardsAuto World magazine. “Kia takes stylistic chances with the Sedona interior. Sedona is unique in its interior design with two-tone leather set off with white piping and orange contrast stitching. The van’s comfortable and spacious, with way-cool second-row lounge seats with footrests. It’s also flexible, with third-row seats that fold into the floor. Finally, a minivan that is truly cool!”

About the 2015 Sedona

Available in L, LX, EX, SX, SX+, SXL and SXL+ trims and a choice of seven-passenger or eight-passenger seating configurations, the 2015 Sedona has something for everyone. The Sedona comes standard with Kia’s proven 3.3-liter V6 engine, which puts out 276 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission routed to the front wheels. The Sedona sets itself apart in the segment as its wide stance exudes a modern, CUV-like appearance and cab-forward design. Sedona offers a wide array of available driver-aid technology including 360o Camera Monitoring System, Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection and Lane Departure Warning. Inside the spacious cabin, Sedona combines generous use of soft-touch materials, premium amenities such as “First Class” lounge seating, and Kia’s latest UVO infotainment and telematics system.

2015 Kia Soul EV Named Canadian Green Car of the Year


The 2015 Kia Soul EV wins the inaugural Green Car of the Year Award, named at the Vancouver International Auto Show. We took a look at it and some of the other green motoring displays at this year’s event.

Each year, 70 automotive journalists from across Canada descend on Niagara Falls, ON, to test the year’s newest cars, with the ultimate goal to name a Canadian Car of the Year and Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year. This year, however, a selection of the 70 voted on an additional award, the Canadian Green Car of the Year Award.

The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), defines a green car as “a vehicle which, for its size and purpose, provides the Canadian consumer with environmentally-friendly returns favourable amongst other vehicles in its class.” Basically, it means that just because a car—a hybrid, for example—has several “green” qualities, it doesn’t mean that it’s a lock for the award. It has to be practical, too, and maybe even fun to drive.

So, it appears the 2015 Kia Soul EV ticked all the right boxes; it’s full-electric, it looks cool, it comes well-equipped and it doesn’t even lose any cargo space in order to fit its battery bank. Plus, you get access to its 210 lb.-ft. of torque right away, because you don’t have to wait for the revs to build to get that power.

“(The green car award) is important because it endorses the versatility of a product from a young brand in Canada,” said Maria Soklis, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Kia Canada.

Of the Seven eligible vehicles, four were finalists; Kia beat out the Honda Fit, Subaru Legacy and Toyota Camry Hybrid for top honours.

Next year, AJAC plans on expanding the award even further, adding a Canadian Green Utility Vehicle of the Year award to the Green Car prize.

As far as other green activities at the Vancouver International Auto Show goes, guests with a valid driver’s license will have the opportunity to try out a handful of electric cars from Ford at the show, as well; the C-Max Energi, Focus EV and Fusion Energi will all be on-hand to give show-goers a taste of what EV motoring is all about.

Or, if you’re in the mood for a more “out there” EV experience, be sure to check out the fully-electric Bigfoot monster truck on display on the show’s main floor. Powered by 30 car batteries, Bigfoot EV pushes out 800 lb.-ft of torque, and better yet, it will never run out of fuel during an event!



The 2015 Geneva Motor Show begins on March 3 and Kia’s got big plans in store. The South Korean brand will be unveiling a futuristic wagon concept called the Sportspace.

Kia has designed it to be a stylish wagon made comfortable for four adults with a focus on long distance driving. Even though it will have the capability to reach far-off destinations, they will be achieved in a fast and efficient manner.

The new concept has been designed at Kia’s Frankfurt design studio under the supervision of Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer Europe. The Sportspace concept takes on Kia’s traditional physical characteristics with its signature “tiger nose” grille.

Like many concepts, it has bold, aggressive styling that has many sharp crisp lines, as well as a sloping rear that exudes sportiness and excitement. Additionally, the rear sports a mesh bumper on both sides enclosing dual exhausts.

“We set out to design a car that is a totally new breed of grand tourer – one for active people who need reasonable cargo space on the weekend, but don’t want to compromise moving around in style, comfort, and with an element of sportiness,” said Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer Europe.

According to Kia, the interior will provide “maximum comfort and minimal stress.” For what we can see from the teaser images, the Sportspace concept seems simple, yet classy with chrome or aluminum touches throughout the cockpit. A large colour touchscreen and gauge cluster are the two parts that look above and beyond anything Kia currently offers.

Kia intends for it to be an exciting transporter that will be spacious and functional, “without sacrificing the performance, sustainability, and economy that Kia is known for.” Outside of that, many questions, such as its specific engine and power output, should be addressed during the auto show.

When the reveal is done, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Sportspace concept to showcase some styling cues for the next-generation Kia Optima.

Kia Canada reveals all-new, third generation 2016 Sorento at the Montreal International Auto Show

KIA Canada

  • All-new 2016 Sorento SUV offers premium features, a sleek European design while being longer, lower and wider than the previous generation vehicle

MONTREALJan. 15, 2015  /CNW/ –  Kia Canada Inc. revealed the Canadian debut of the all-new 2016 Sorento SUV at the Montreal International Auto Show (MIAS) today. The 2016 Sorento brings new refinement and cutting-edge technology to the highly competitive segment and is expected to arrive at dealerships across Canada in early spring of 2015.

“The all-new 2016 Sorento SUV proudly built at our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in West Point Georgia will provide a high quality offering to the SUV segment.” said Maria Soklis, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Kia Canada Inc. “With its all-new design we expect this world-class vehicle to continue to resonate with Canadians.”

The Georgia-built 2016 Sorento has undergone impressive change versus the outgoing model. A brand-new appearance including an upgraded interior packed with impressive technology; the 2016 Sorento arrives with all-new styling, enhanced interior design, a significantly modified platform and a new available twin-scroll turbocharged engine to the line-up.

Inspired Exterior

Overall, the all-new Sorento takes on a brawnier, more planted stance, communicating its edginess and rugged personality.  The clean profile is easily recognizable as Sorento, enhanced with stronger shoulders and a long hood to deliver a more aerodynamic and sleek appearance.  Combining a significantly longer 2,780mm wheelbase (up 80mm), longer 4,760mm length (increased by 75mm) and overall width that’s broadened to 1,890mm (increased by 5mm), the Sorento’s packaging is more efficient and allows for greater interior room. The aggressively styled front end is an evolution of the upper fascia seen on the Cross GT concept and bears a strong family resemblance to the all-new highly praised Sedona multipurpose vehicle (MPV). The Sorento’s muscular body sits atop three new alloy wheel designs ranging from 17 to 19 inches, depending on trim level.

Class-Up Interior

With an overall interior theme focused on the stability of a horizontal plane, the design motif provides a strong foundation for the premium textures and high-quality materials found throughout the 2016 Sorento’s cabin.  The liberal application of soft-touch materials is particularly evident around the instrument panel, center console and door panels.

Depending on trim level, the ready-for-adventure 2016 Sorento comes with standard 40/20/40 second-row folding five-passenger and available 50/50 folding third-row seven-passenger seating configurations.  For added luxury, also available are heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 10-way power driver and 8-way power passenger seats, driver’s seat thigh extension, a 4-way headrest with one-button adjustment, dual-zone automatic temperature control and Kia’s second-generation panoramic sunroof.

Overall cargo volume in the new Sorento is rated at 2,082 L, while cargo volume behind the 3rd row is rated at 320 L, providing increased space for essentials and active-lifestyle equipment without sacrificing rear-passenger room.

A New Driving Experience

The core of the all-new 2016 Sorento is its significantly modified platform.  The enhanced structure increases torsional rigidity by 14 percent over the previous generation. Fifty-three percent of the unit-body consists of advanced high-strength steel, a 115 percent increase over the outgoing model.

A number of safety features are also offered, including seatbelt anchor pretensioners and six airbags, to help give drivers the confidence and peace-of-mind.  All Sorento models come standard with active safety features such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Brake Assist System (BAS), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Antilock Braking System (ABS).  Additional technologies such as Roll Over Prevention (ROP) and Advanced Traction Cornering Control (ATCC) on AWD models also were added as standard equipment for improved dynamic control and safety.

New available driver aid technology, including Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Smart Cruise Control (SCC), Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Rear Cross Traffic Alert and 360o Camera Monitoring, help provide Sorento owners with a more convenient daily driving experience.

Sorento continues to offer an advanced AWD system that automatically routes power to the wheel with the most traction.  When conditions call for more sure-footed capability, the 4WD Lock Mode splits engine power evenly between the front and rear drive shafts. The spirited front- or all-wheel drive experience is brought to life with a choice of three engines, including a 2.4-litre 4-cylinder GDI, a 3.3-litre V6 GDI and a new 2.0-litre 4-cylinder GDI turbocharged powerplant.  The 2.4-litre engine, with new Electronic Cam Variable Valve Timing (E-CVVT) delivers a capable 185 horsepower.  On the other end of the engine range, the Sorento’s V6 gallops to the tune of 290 horses on the open road and with that power, the Sorento is now able to tow up to 5,000 lbs. In the middle, the new turbocharged I-4 provides a best-of-both-worlds scenario, making a stout 240 horsepower while also delivering commendable fuel efficiency.  All three engines channel energy through an electronically controlled six-speed automatic gearbox.

The all-new 2016 Sorento will be on display at Kia Canada’s Montreal International Auto Show pavilion from January 16 – 25, 2015, at the Palais des congrès de Montreal, level 7.

The all-new 2015 Kia Soul EV earns title as “Best New City Car”

Date : December 2, 2014

(Toronto, ON) December 2, 2014 – Kia Canada was presented an Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Car of the Year category award. The all-new 2015 Kia Soul EV Urban Hatchback was announced winner of the “Best New City Car” award by AJAC.

The Soul EV faced tough competition throughout AJAC’s week-long comprehensive testing period, known as TestFest, which occurred in October in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

“Kia Canada is elated with the category win of the all-new 2015 Kia Soul EV during AJAC’s comprehensive testing program in its respective category”, said Maria Soklis, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Kia Canada Inc. “This recognition is a testament to Kia’s ongoing commitment to provide environmentally friendly automotive solutions to consumers without compromising on design or comfort.”

This prestigious award automatically qualifies the all-new 2015 Kia Soul EV for consideration as the 2015 AJAC ‘Canadian Car of the Year’ title, which will be awarded on February 12th 2015, at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto.

Best small car over $21,000: Kia Forte5 LX+

Toronto Star,

By: Gary Grant

In today’s world, a car must satisfy a variety of needs. My wife wants reliability and practicality, but I want connectivity and a fun driving experience. Affordability is a must, and this category offers several vehicles that tick all five boxes.

Base price: $19,495

As tested: $21,695

Stylish but no nonsense inside and out, the Forte5 offers an almost unheard-of level of creature comforts in a vehicle at this price point. Quiet and comfortable, the cabin seats five comfortably with a cargo area that will easily swallow a couple of hockey bags. The 2.0L gasoline four cylinder generates 173 horsepower and can be had with a choice of six-speed automatic or manual transmissions, ensuring a sprightly driving experience.


Sporty good looks set off by 16” alloy wheels

Economical to drive, yet fun on a twisty road

Fantastic infotainment package for this price point includes Bluetooth and satellite radio

Rear seat actually seats three teenagers

Very large cargo space for a small car

Engine: 2.0L I4 GDI

Power/torque: 173 hp/154 lbs.-ft.

Fuel consumption (regular) L/100 km: 9.7 city, 6.9 hwy.

What’s best: Most standard features in the class

What’s worst: More demure styling than some competitors

Value for money: Best of the bunch


Don’t be fooled by the badge. Kia’s posh, comfy luxo-barge rivals Germany’s best, at fraction of the cost

By John LeBlanc

It’s been decades since American luxury brands led the way in the flagship sedan classes. Think Cadillac DeVille, Chrysler Imperial or Lincoln Continental. All replaced by sportier-to-drive German luxobarges like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series in the 1980s, followed by even more impressive Japanese luxury sedans like the Lexus LS and Infiniti Q45 in the 1990s. And now Korea’s Kia, with its new 2015 K900, is looking to sway buyers who prefer their sedans big, comfortable and luxurious.

Launched as Kia’s first rear-wheel-drive sedan in South Korea in 2012, the five-passenger, four-door K900 sports Kia’s typically aggressive exterior styling. Yet the full-size sedan shares most of its nuts and bolts with its Hyundai Equus platform-mate. But does the K900 have the chops to be considered alongside other so-called “flagship” sedans?

As buyers have come to expect, “value” is a big part of the K900’s appeal. The base K900 V6 starts at $51,480 (all prices include freight and pre-delivery inspection fees). My tester was the top-line, all-inclusive $71,480 K900 V8 Elite.

While that may sound like a lot of  money for a “Kia”, you don’t need to hold an economics degree to know that the K900 can be had for tens of thousands of dollars less than comparably equipped German and Japanese rivals. Unlike, say, a BMW 7 Series, the K900’s price doesn’t explode when you start adding what most luxury buyers would consider basic features.

For example, the V6 K900 comes standard with a power trunk lid, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, a power rear sunshade, a 17-speaker Lexicon surround-sound audio system – and more. Opt for the V8 K900, and you’ll find such niceties added as a panoramic sunroof, blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert system, lane departure warning system, heated steering wheel, upgraded leather upholstery — well, you get the idea.

Slipping between the slightly larger Equus and the last-generation Hyundai Genesis, the K900 is very close to the $86,645 Lexus LS 460 in size. Not surprisingly, this allows for suite-like accommodations for anyone boarding the big Kia.

More than just roomy, the K900 is also a very nice place to be — whether you are the chauffeur or a lucky passenger. Overall, the use of black-piano finishes, real wood and quality leather is tastefully and extremely well fitted together in the Kia’s cabin. The front seats — if lacking the sort of support some of the optional “sport” seats the German brands offer — are easy to get comfortable in and offer an array of adjustability.

Perhaps, however, the best seats in the K900 are the thrones in the back. Not only is there plenty of legroom for full-sized adults, the seats recline and adjust — just the thing for naps after a long day at the office while James drives you home.

With only 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque needing to pull around 2,000 kilograms of Kia luxobarge, the base 3.8-litre six-cylinder gas engine seems, well, inappropriate. But the willing 5.0L eight-cylinder certainly feels more like a proper flagship sedan powerplant.

Making 420 hp and 376 lb.-ft., and mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the K900 V8 smoothly swooshes the from zero to 100 kilometres per hour in just 5.7 seconds. If that reads quick, that’s because it is: Not only is the K900 V8 the quickest Kia ever, it’s also over a half-second quicker than the $86,645 Lexis LS 460.

Kia Rio5 SX Fun-to-drive hatchback is big on entertainment and easy on the wallet

By Graeme Fletcher

The popularity of any car is, in part, governed by its style. For example, Acura has been losing ground ever since the controversial “beak” was applied to its corporate nose. Conversely, Kia’s popularity has been growing under the penmanship of chief designer Peter Schreyer.

When Kia landed in Canada its portfolio was as attractive as a brick and just about as much fun to drive. Since then the company has pulled a 180 and now boasts one of the most dynamic portfolios on the market — dynamic to the eye (the Rio5 SX’s LED daytime running lights and taillights) and to the driver’s built-in yaw sensor. No, you will not mistake the Rio5 SX for a small Porsche, but compared to its peers it has a fun quotient many cannot match.

However, said outward appeal must also extend to the cabin. So it is with the Rio5 SX. To begin with, Kia’s cheesy plastics and hit and miss assembly quality has vanished in favour of a look and feel that has substance and style. Yes, there is still a lot of plastic, at least in the base model, but it is richly textured and soft to the touch. Likewise, the fit and finish is now on par with its peers.

Look a little deeper and things get even better — the content list is long and better than many of the Rio5’s peers. The height-adjustable driver’s seat is comfortable, as are the rest of the seats, the instrumentation is clean and, in spite of the hatchback design, the sightlines around the car are uncluttered. Besides, there was also a back-up camera on the test car. It is a combination that’s destined to appeal to those shopping on a budget.

This is reinforced by the content list. It reads like it belongs to something far more expensive. Heated leather front bucket seats, automatic climate control, heated steering wheel and a smart key with push-button start to go along with the usual power items and cruise control. It also had rain-sensing wipers and an auto-defog system that actively monitors the moisture on the windshield and automatically switches to defrost to clear the mess before reverting back to the driver’s preset setting. Now that is heady stuff! Heck, the tester even had a power moonroof and a full-on navigation system.

The Rio5 has the flexibility demanded of a hatch. True, sitting three adults in the rear seat is optimistic, but there is plenty of head- and legroom and enough cargo capacity to satisfy most eventualities. With the seats upright there’s 425-litres of space and 1,410 L with them folded flat.

The Rio5 is powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine that features everything its more expensive rivals do — direct injection, variable cam phasing and a variable intake. In this instant, it produces 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. Pair this with a six-speed automatic with a manual mode and paddle shifters, and the powertrain’s work ethic is such that there is plenty of pull off the line (enough to chirp the tires) and a purposeful mid-range. No, I am not talking road rocket here, but for most eventualities the Rio5 satisfies driver demand. It runs to 100 kilometres an hour in 10 seconds and accomplishes the more important 80 to 120 km/h passing move in 7.3 seconds. Not outstanding, but in this segment it’s more than competitive — in a moment of exuberance I dusted a more expensive Fiat 500. The latter ambles its way to the metric ton in around 12 seconds, which is enough time to get half way through a crossword!

The Rio5’s ride and handling sits above many of its competitors. No, it’s not the sports suspension (it is taut, which limits body roll, but lets road imperfections filter through) or the ability to tailor the weight of the steering (Comfort, Normal and Sport modes). The latter, when in Sport, delivers a pleasant amount of weight without being too difficult to wheel in a parking lot. What is impressive is the advanced stability control system that keeps the Rio5 shiny side up. It not only uses the usual brake intervention to correct oversteer, it employs the steering to counter-steer out of the problem in a manner that remains invisible to the driver. Plus, the set up is such it allows the driver to take some liberties before it clamps down on the fun. The Rio5 SX and its larger P205/45R17 tires reinforced this playful nature as they bring a ton of lateral grip, which means the stability control is even less inclined to intervene. The SX also benefits from larger front brakes than the lesser models, which brings better fade resistance.

The Rio5, and its sedan counterpart, delivers a light, tight, city-friendly car that is big on entertainment and easy on the wallet — a test average fuel economy of 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres and a starting price of $14,495. The bottom line is simple: If you want and/or need to cut your transportation budget without giving up on life’s luxuries the Rio5 is an ideal candidate. It has the right content and a fun-to-drive factor many cars at this end of the price spectrum simply can’t match.