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2017 Kia Rio vs Nissan Versa

2017 Kia Rio vs Ford Fiesta

If you want the peace of mind of having a brand new car and the warranty that comes with it but you're on a tight budget, there are more good options out there than you might imagine. So let's take a look at two of the current options in the shape of the 2017 Kia Rio and the Nissan Versa.

2017 Kia Rio vs Nissan Versa

Styling

The 2017 Kia Rio is available as either a sedan or a hatch, and the hatch is the better-looking car of the two. Having said that; the sedan carries the four-door format better than many subcompact rivals and both body styles have a distinctly European feel about them. The sweeping rear roofline does compromise rear head room, but most will accept that given the more stylish look.

Honestly, the exterior styling of the Nissan Versa isn't its greatest strength. There's a strong family resemblance to the Sentra and Altima at the front with the grille and headlights, but the rest of the car looks as though it was made up of bits of other cars without a clear identity of its own. The easy win here goes to the Kia.

Engines and Performance

Just one engine makes up the 2017 Kia Rio lineup, which is a 1.6-liter inline-four developing 138 horsepower and 123 lb.-ft. of torque mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed electronically controlled Sportmatic transmission. This engine gives plenty of power and performance for the overwhelming majority of buyers, making the Rio an excellent daily vehicle.

A 1.6-liter inline-four also powers the Nissan Versa, but this one produces a pretty feeble 109 horsepower. The standard transmission is a five-speed manual, although a CVT is available (which is better on gas) beyond the base S trim. The steering is well-weighted and the car handles quite nicely, but the lack of power hands another win to the Kia Rio.

Fuel Economy

As cars in general go, the 2017 Kia Rio is impressively fuel efficient, but not so much when compared to rival subcompacts. With the six-speed automatic, the Kia is rated by the EPA at 27 mpg in the city, 36 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg combined. If fuel economy is your primary focus, you can also opt for an "Eco" version that squeezes those numbers up to 27/36/31 mpg.

The Nissan Versa is budget friendly, so it really ought to be budget-friendly to run too. It is. Base models of the Versa with the manual transmission are rated at 26 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg combined. But the more popular automatic transmission ups the ante to 31 mpg in the city, 39 mpg on the highway and 34 mpg combined, so this is a win for the Nissan.

Interior

The 2017 Kia Rio isn't as clever as some of its subcompact rivals when it comes to creating interior space inside a purposely small package. But if you're looking at it from the angle of style and quality, the Rio is extremely impressive. You won't find the crazy assortment of funky materials and trims sometimes found in these models, but the interior is stylish, full of quality materials, and well put together.

The Nissan Versa is the yin to the Rio's yang, as it's actually good on interior space but shortchanges buyers on style and quality to keep the car's price as low as it is. The lack of a sloping roofline means rear-seat passengers have more head room, and it's a similar story throughout the cabin. If you need the extra space, that's fine, but the lack of quality makes the Versa much harder to love. The Rio gets the nod again from us here.

Learn More about the Kia Rio

2017 Kia Rio vs Ford Fiesta

If you want a new car for the least money, you're going to struggle to get even close to the Nissan Versa with its starting MSRP of less than $12,000. You may have to pay more for a 2017 Kia Rio, but at almost every turn the Rio is well worth the money. Better styling, more impressive performance, and quality trims and finishes make this subcompact the clear winner in this comparison.