New Model News

Refreshed 2021 Kia Rio gets mild-hybrid engine, high-tech upgrades

Kia has given the Rio a solid mid-cycle refresh.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Rio is the smallest car in Kia's lineup, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't pack a heck of a punch. The refreshed version of the fourth-generation Rio broke cover today delivering a host of upgrades.

The new model retains Kia's signature tiger nose grille but updates it to fall into like with the new K5 and Cadenza sedans, among others. It pairs with a wider front bumper and new fog lamp housing. Full LED headlamps are standard. Kia has added Perennial Grey and Sporty Blue paint jobs to the roster as well as new 16-inch alloy wheels.

The car is now available with a Perennial Grey paint job.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Under the hood is a new turbocharged 1.0-liter mild-hybrid engine, replacing the current 1.0-liter powers-ant. It features the same 48-volt lithium-ion battery technology that is present in many mild-hybrid vehicles from the Ram 1500 to the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The new engine produces 100 or 120 horsepower, depending on the buyer's choice, the same as the outgoing power plant.

European versions of the car will be available with additional engine options.

The car comes standard with Kia's new clutch-by-wire manual transmission. It works with other car systems to activate Kia's auto start-stop technology while maintaining traditional gearbox characteristics. The engine is automatically switched off when the brake and clutch pedals are simultaneously pressed as the car comes to a stop. When the pedals are released, the engine is turned back on.

Kia has equipped the Rio with a Drive Mode Select system, giving drivers the choice of Eco, Sport, and Normal drive modes.

At the front, the car has design cues in line with the new Cadenza and K5.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The new Rio is available with an 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen. It has Display Audio or navigation, depending on vehicle specification. The list of standard features includes Bluetooth while wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available when buyers opt for a model with the larger screen.

Buyers can also get "Phase II" of the UVO Connect telematics system, which includes live traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest, fuel prices, and details of potential on- and off-street parking – including price, location and availability. It also features online voice recognition, supported by server technologies, which lets users give voice commands, hands-free, to search for nearby points of interest, addresses, weather updates, or send text messages.

The UVO App is compatible with Android and Apple smartphones, and allows owners to activate a range of functions and features remotely. Depending on country, users can remotely send route directions to their car before a journey, check the location of their vehicle, and access vehicle reports and diagnostic notifications.

More details about the system will be released closer to the car's on-sale date.

In front of the driver is a 4.2-inch digital display.

2021 Kia Rio The driver information screen displays information at a higher resolution than in the past.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Owners can choose from a number of interior customizations whose availability depends on the market. The color options add colored seat bolsters, dashboard, and door arm rests, as well as contrast stitching. GT-Line models are offered with a black single-tone interior with white contrast piping and stitching on the seats, and a faux carbon fiber dashboard.

Standard and GT Line Rio models are now equipped with driver and optional front passenger seat height adjustability.

The Rio is also available with a long list of safety and driver assistance features including forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian, vehicle, and cyclist detection, intelligent speed limit warning, smart cruise control, rear cross traffic assist, rear occupant alert, lane departure alert, and lane following assist.

2021 Kia Rio New color options add contrast stitching to the Rio's seats.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Pricing and an on-sale date will be announced later this year.

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Safety and technology awards

Four Hyundai cars earn top marks for teen drivers

Best SUV for Teens $35 to $40k: 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid

Hyundai
Each year, U.S. News & World Report ranks vehicles in several categories. One relates to teen drivers and how well a vehicle performs in areas such as safety and available technology features. The 2021 rankings for Best New Cars for Teens were just released and one automaker hit it big. Four vehicles from Hyundai's 2021 lineup took top spots in various categories. They include:
  • Best Car for Teens $20k to $25k: 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid
  • Best SUV for Teens $20k to $25k: 2021 Hyundai Kona
  • Best Car for Teens $25k to $30k: 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
  • Best SUV for Teens $35k to $40k: 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid


2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Best Car for Teens $20k to $25k: 2021 Hyundai Elantra HybridHyundai


All vehicles that earned awards in the 2021 survey are available with safety features that include forward collision warnings, forward automatic emergency braking, lane departure warnings, and lane keep assist. The vehicles also carry safety features and controls that allow parents to monitor their teen's behavior. Through the available smartphone app, parents can receive alerts when the vehicle goes over a set speed or if the teen leaves a set geographic area. The idea is that the functionality allows parents to coach their young drivers on their driving habits.


2021 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Best Car for Teens $25k to $30k 2021 Hyundai Ioniq HybridHyundai


To earn a spot on the U.S. News Best Cars for Teens rankings, a vehicle has to score well in several categories that include crash test scores and available advanced driver assistance features. The vehicle must also have scored well in the publication's rankings for its segment and price level.


2021 Hyundai Kona Best SUV for Teens $20k to $25k: 2021 Hyundai KonaHyundai

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Electric vehicles

Three new EVs we can't wait to see

The F-150 Lightning is just one of several new EVs we'll see soon.

Ford

With all the crazy news coming out of the auto industry this year, it'd be easy to believe that the rollout of new models is slowing to a snail's pace. The pandemic and ongoing microchip shortage have slowed vehicle production, to be sure, but they haven't put the brakes on automakers' push to roll out exciting new electric vehicles. In the next few months alone, we'll see several new electric trucks, cars, and SUVs hit the market, some of which will break new ground and help define their segments. We're on board with this trend 100 percent, and to help you get excited, we've rounded up a few of our favorites.

Here are the three upcoming electric vehicles we're most excited to see.

Ford F-150 Lightning

One of the world's best-selling and most popular vehicles is going electric. The Ford F-150 Lightning is set to arrive in 2022 with a fully electric powertrain, forward-looking technology, and a familiar style that will make any truck lover feel at home. We don't have full details on the truck, but Ford has shared some awe-inspiring performance numbers. The Lightning will offer around 563 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque, which should push the truck to 60 mph from a standstill in just four seconds. Payload capacity comes in at up to 2,000 pounds, and towing will reach 10,000 pounds for specific configurations.


Ford F-150 Lightning The Lightning will offer impressive capability in a familiar package.Ford


The Lightning's starting price will come in under $40,000, but don't get your hopes up about actually buying one for that amount. Ford says the entry-level Lightning is a commercial truck that will be a stripped-down work-ready vehicle, which likely means features like vinyl seats and far fewer of the desirable tech goodies that you'll want. To get the truck you and your family will want to drive, you'll need to spring for the XLT model, which starts just shy of $53,000. That's quite a bit more, but it is still a somewhat reasonable price to pay for what will surely be a capable electric pickup.

Mercedes-Benz EQS

The S-Class is a unique model in Mercedes-Benz's lineup. The car typically showcases the automaker's latest technologies and design techniques and offers a glimpse of the features that eventually trickle down to the rest of Mercedes' vehicles. Soon, we'll see the EQS, a fully electric flagship sedan that paves the way for the brand's other electrified offerings. The car will have a range of well over 400 miles on a charge, up to 516 horsepower, rear-axle steering, and breathtaking technology.


Mercedes-Benz EQS The EQS will usher in a new electric era at Mercedes.Mercedes-Benz


The EQS is expected to land sometime late in 2021 and will carry a price tag that matches its premium brand name and top-notch feature set. Pricing for the "entry-level" EQS 450+ will come in at around $100,000, while the top EQS 580 4MATIC will land well north of that number. Remember, though, that Mercedes offers a long list of ultra-desirable options for its cars, so you'll likely shell out more than the base price to get the features you want.

Hyundai Ioniq 5

The Hyundai Ioniq name is nothing new, but the way it will be seen in the automaker's lineup will change significantly going forward. Rather than being a model name within the Hyundai catalog, Ioniq will split off and become its own sub-brand, covering a line of electric vehicles of all types. The Ioniq 5 is the first such vehicle and will be offered in single- or dual-motor configurations that generate 225 or 320 horsepower. The car's futuristic design is attractive and features a pixelated look for the front-end, lighting features, and rear. Inside, the vehicle is clean but comforting and offers the features buyers expect in a family crossover.


Hyundai Ioniq 5 The Ioniq 5 is the first in what will be an entire line of new EVs from Hyundai.Hyundai


The Ioniq 5 should go on sale in late 2021 and is expected to cost between $40,000 and $50,000.

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