Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips and Reviews

A blue 2020 Kia Rio is parked on a city street.

Which Kia Model is the Perfect First Car?

When looking at Kia car models, you might notice that there is a lot to choose from. Kia seems to make a vehicle for everyone, and each model is loaded with value. So how do you decide which model is best for your personality and lifestyle? This can be even more difficult when looking to buy your first vehicle. Generally, you do not have a trade-in to lessen the initial investment. You want to find something affordable and useful. You want to make sure it’s dependable, has a reputation for reliability, and comes with a robust warranty because you do not want to have to spend money on costly repairs. Well, Kia is a great place to start your search if you are a first-time buyer. So Let’s take a look at which Kia models offer the most value for someone looking to buy their first car.

2020 Kia Rio

A unique Kia car model, a red 2020 Kia Rio 5-door Hatchback is shown driving on a street near Freehold, NJ.

The Kia Rio is the least expensive Kia though it does not lack in value. It comes with a lot of features and all at a very reasonable price. For such a low starting price—just $15,850—you’ll find the cabin is loaded with tech. Standard features include a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system with connections to Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also a USB port and a rearview camera. This tech-friendly interior is perfect for the first-time buyer wanting to stay connected wherever they go. The amount of standard equipment is good for just about any car, let alone one this affordable. Other standard equipment includes a trip computer, air conditioning, and heated-power side mirrors.

Outside of the low starting price and standard tech, the 2020 Kia Rio also comes with an impressive warranty. A 10-year/100,000-mile warranty is included as well, which means that you will not have to worry about spending extra money on expensive repairs. This is the best warranty you will find in the business, which brings tremendous value to the Rio. For someone looking for their first car, or for a second car or daily driver, you can’t go wrong with the 2020 Kia Rio.

You might think that you will be sacrificing interior space with the Kia Rio, but that’s not the case. The front passengers have plenty of room to stretch their legs with 42.1 inches, which is impressive for the segment. Rear passengers will be comfortable too, as the Rio can comfortably seat 5, and the cargo space is good too, with 13.7 cubic feet of trunk space, and up to 17.4 cubic feet available in the hatchback model.

The 2020 Kia Rio also has an impressive powertrain, so you will be confident merging onto the highway and passing. This powertrain is all-new for the 2020 model year and features a new engine and transmission. The engine is a multi-point direct-injected 1.6-liter 4-cylinder. This engine produces 120 hp and 112 lb-ft of torque and is paired with an “iVT” automatic transmission. This is essentially a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that Kia has refined so that it can adapt shift logic for improved performance while also making it more efficient. And it is certainly efficient as the Rio returns 33/41 MPG. Not only are you getting the latest in engineering and tech from Kia, but you are also getting incredible fuel economy.

Safety features for the 2020 Kia Rio are also fantastic. Especially when in the market for a first car, or a car for one of your kids, you want to make sure that the vehicle comes with the latest safety features. The peace of mind is invaluable, and Kia certainly understands this. With a rearview camera standard, the Rio can help with backing into tight spaces to avoid the ubiquitous fender-bender, and with forward-collision avoidance standard on the S trim, the Rio can monitor the traffic ahead and warn when a collision is imminent. If the driver does not take action to avoid the collision, the system will apply the brakes and bring the car to a stop. On the S trim is also a tire-pressure monitoring system that warns when a tire has low air pressure, showing all four tires on the LCD display screen.

The 2020 Kia Rio makes a strong case as possibly the best car on the market for first-time buyers, offering incredible tech and convenience features as standard equipment, an advanced engine, and transmission, as well as excellent fuel efficiency and adequate space. The S trim—there are only 2 trim levels—might be the better trim, however, with the extra safety features, though even this trim starts at an affordable $16,490. The hatchback is another great option with the extra space, and this starts at only $16,790. With many options all affordably priced, the 2020 Kia Rio seems to have something for everyone.

2020 Kia Soul

A green 2020 Kia Soul is driving in a desert.
Another great option for those looking for a vehicle with tremendous value at an affordable price is the 2020 Kia Soul. If you are looking for the functionality of an SUV at a modest price, the Soul is one of the best options on the market. With the Soul, you’ll find ample interior space. The headroom for rear passengers is 39.5 inches, maximum cargo space is 62.1 cubic feet, and the rear legroom is 38.8 inches. The rear legroom is more than the Toyota Camry, so that’s a great deal of space for your passengers who will undoubtedly be thankful. The Soul excels on the outside as well, with an incredible amount of style and a strong structure. With high-strength steel used in its construction, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded it a “Top Safety Pick.” It’s fun too, which you can’t say about many other cars in this price range, starting at just $17,490.

The 2020 Kia Soul is also loaded with standard equipment. Standard features include a 7-inch touch-screen with a USB input, a 6-way-adjustable driver seat, air conditioning, six airbags, and smartphone integration with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Moving up in trim levels brings smart key access with push-button start, LED front headlights, a 10.25-inch touch-screen with navigation, extra USB ports, dual-zone automatic climate control, and heated front seats. Other optional equipment includes dynamic cruise control, collision warning with pedestrian detection, flashing speaker lights, and a head-up display. One of the great things about the Soul is how many options are available to personalize it to your tastes. Choose from 2-tone paintwork, ambient interior lighting that syncs to music, and various cabin color schemes.

There are also choices when it comes to the engine. a 2.0-liter inline-4 that produces 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque is standard. This engine returns up to 29/35 MPG for excellent fuel efficiency. A 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 is also available that produces an incredible 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. This engine also has excellent fuel efficiency of 27/32 MPG. The Soul also comes with Kia’s excellent 10-year/100,000-mile warranty.

A Kia For Everyone

Whether you are looking for the practicality of a subcompact sedan or style and SUV-like functionality, the 2020 Kia Rio and 2020 Kia Soul are both great options for those looking to purchase their first vehicle. With incredible warranties and lots of standard tech, there really is no better place to look than Kia when just starting out. The safety features and excellent fuel economy just add to the value, as these are two of the best values on the market—regardless of whether you are looking for your first car or just need to add another to your family’s fleet.

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