Nissan Versa Vs. Kia Rio Sedan

By Justin Cupler | June 3rd, 2019

Subcompact sedans offer buyers great value with easy-to-drive footprints for tight city streets, and the 2019 Nissan Versa and 2019 Kia Rio are two great options in this class. Which one is better for our Saginaw area car shoppers? Continue reading to find out.

Exterior

The 2019 Nissan Versa is a little long in the tooth, as its last redesign came back in 2012. That said, this has given Nissan tons of time to perfect this subcompact sedan to deliver one of the lowest prices in the class and plenty of desirable features. This all comes together to create an excellent value with tons of options to dress it up for buyers who crave a little more than the base model offers.

The 2019 Kia Forte is just one year removed from a full redesign, making it one of the freshest models in the subcompact sedan class. Kia pulled a lot from its next-level-up Forte sedan in this redesign, giving the Rio a more upscale appearance. That said, this all comes at a cost. Roughly a $3,000 cost.

In terms of standard exterior features, the Kia Rio and Nissan Versa are similar with 15-inch steel wheels and hubcaps, power mirrors, rear drum brakes, and more. The Rio gets a small advantage with its standard heated mirrors. The Rio also has the S Technology Package that adds to the S trim, among other things, LED headlights and positioning lights for just $800. The Versa does not offer LED lighting at any point in its lineup.

As for sizing, the Versa is a few inches larger than the Rio in every key measurable except width where the Rio is 1.2 inches wider.

 

Measurement 2019 Nissan Versa 2019 Kia Rio Difference
Length 175.4 inches 172.6 inches +2.8 inches
Width 66.7 inches 67.9 inches -1.2 inches
Height 59.6 inches 57.1 inches +2.5 inches
Wheelbase 102.4 inches 101.6 inches +0.8 inches
Ground Clearance 6.8 inches 5.5 inches +1.3 inches
Curb weight 2,395 to 2,494 pounds

 

Advantage: 2019 Nissan Versa

  • Matches Rio’s features at a huge cost savings
  • Options galore

Advantage: 2019 Kia Rio

  • Available LED headlights on the cheap
  • Newest design language
  • Smaller and nimbler

Interior

Inside, the Nissan Versa shows some age in terms of design, as it comes with the previous-generation Nissan styling that has become a bit outdated. But what it lacks in modern style it makes up for with its standard 7-inch touchscreen system and Sir Eyes Free system. If you’re looking for advanced connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the range-topping SV Special Edition trim has these standard.

The 2019 Kia Rio has the latest in design from the Korean automaker, which gives it a stunning and modern interior that even impresses us. But while it looks great, its standard 5-inch display screen (non-touchscreen) feels misplaced in such a modern-looking cabin. Of course, moving into the S trim brings in the more modern 7-inch UVO system, but that comes at a premium.

Where the Rio leaves the Versa behind is its ridiculously valuable S Technology Package. We already mentioned this $800 package includes LED headlights and positioning lights, but it also adds UVO eServices, a supervision meter, forward-collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. The Versa offers nothing close to this.

 

In terms of roominess, the Versa’s longer body gives is tons more legroom than the Rio, but the Kia’s wider body gives it more hip and shoulder room. Legroom generally trumps all other measurements for buyers, and the Versa has that in gobs. Plus, it boasts an extra 1.2 cubic feet of cargo room.

 

Measurement 2019 Nissan Versa 2019 Kia Rio Sedan Difference
Front headroom 39.8 inches 38.9 inches +0.9 inches
Front legroom 41.8 inches 42.1 inches -0.3 inches
Front shoulder room 51.7 inches 54..1 inches -2.4 inches
Front hip room 48.1 inches 52.9 inches -4.8 inches
Rear headroom 36.6 inches 37.4 inches -0.8 inches
Rear legroom 37 inches 33.5 inches +3.5 inches
Rear shoulder room 46.2 inches 53.3 inches -7.1 inches
Rear hip room 51.9 inches 52.4 inches -0.5 inches
Cargo room 14.9 cubic feet 13.7 inches +1.2 cubic feet

 

Advantage: 2019 Nissan Versa

  • Standard 7-inch touchscreen
  • Great rear legroom
  • Great value

Advantage: 2019 Kia Rio

  • Stylish cabin
  • More advanced infotainment system
  • $800 package includes auto emergency braking and more

Performance

Most subcompact sedans are far from performance models, and the 2019 Nissan Versa and 2019 Kia Rio are no exceptions. The 2019 Versa comes standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that chugs out 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. This routes through a dated five-speed manual transmission as standard or an optional continuously variable transmission for an estimated 10.5-second 0-to-60 time.

The 2019 Kia Rio Sedan also uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, but it churns out 130 horses and 119 pound-feet of torque. This heads through a standard six-speed automatic transmission for a relatively enthusiastic 8.2-second 0-to-60 time.

While performance may not be these subcompact sedans’ forte, they are misers when it comes to fuel consumption. The Rio gets up to 32 mpg combined, while the Versa pulls off up to 34 mpg combined, making up for its performance deficiencies.

 

2019 Nissan Versa 2019 Kia Rio Sedan Difference
Engine 1.6-liter 4-cyl 1.6-liter 4-cyl
Horsepower 109 hp at 6,000 rpm 130 hp at 6,300 rpm -21 hp
Torque 107 lb-ft at 4,400 rpm 119 lb-ft at 4,850 rpm -12 lb-ft
Standard transmission 5-spd manual 6-spd automatic
Optional transmission CVT
Driveline FWD FWD
0-60 time 10.5 seconds (est.) 8.2 seconds +2.3 seconds
MPG City 27 to 31 mpg 28 to 29 mpg -2 to +3 mpg
MPG Highway 36 to 39 mpg 37 mpg 1 to +2 mpg
MPG Combined 30 to 34 mpg 32 mpg -2 to +2 mpg

 

Advantage: 2019 Nissan Versa

  • Better peak fuel economy
  • Manual transmission option

Advantage: 2019 Kia Rio

  • Quicker to 60 mph
  • Traditional automatic transmission

Pricing and Features

The 2019 Nissan Versa lineup has four trim levels — S, S Plus, SV, and SV Special Edition — and their starting prices range from $12,460 to $16,890.

 

There are just two trims in the 2019 Kia Rio lineup, the $15,390 LX and $16,190 S.

Nissan Versa Key Features and Pricing by Trim

S: $12,460

  • 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Five-speed manual transmission
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Front disc and rear drum brakes
  • Four-wheel anti-lock brakes
  • Brake assist
  • Speed-sensitive electric power steering
  • 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
  • Body-color, power mirrors
  • Chrome-accented grille
  • Black door handles
  • 7-inch touchscreen
  • Siri Eyes Free
  • USB port
  • Bluetooth
  • Hands-free text messaging
  • Air conditioning
  • Tilt steering
  • Variable-intermittent windshield wipers
  • Trunk light
  • Front vanity mirrors
  • Digital clock
  • 12-volt power outlet
  • Four-way manual seats
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Silver steering-wheel accents
  • Black trim
  • Four-speaker AM/FM audio system
  • Bluetooth streaming audio
  • Auxiliary audio port
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • Rearview camera

 

S Plus: $14,600

  • All S features
  • Continuously variable transmission
  • Rear spoiler with LED brake light
  • Cruise control

 

SV: $16,090

  • All S plus features, plus
  • Chrome door handles
  • Fine-vision gauges
  • Outside temperature display
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Remote trunk release
  • Power windows with driver’s side one-touch-down operation
  • Six-way manual driver’s seat
  • Driver’s seat armrest
  • Upgraded cloth trim
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat
  • Silver accents on the dash, vent rings, shift knob, and shifter surround
  • Chrome inside door handles and chrome-accented center vents

 

SV Special Edition: $16,890

  • All SV features, plus
  • 15-inch split-six-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels
  • Fog lights
  • NissanConnect 7-inch touchscreen
  • SiriusXM
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto
  • Push-button ignition
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Piano-black interior trim
  • Easy-fill tire alert
  • Nissan vehicle immobilizer system

2019 Kia Rio Sedan Key Features and Pricing by Trim

LX: $15,390

  • 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • Electric power steering
  • Front disc and rear drum brakes
  • 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
  • Halogen headlights
  • Black and silver grille
  • Body-color bumpers
  • Body-color door handles
  • Body-color, power, heated mirrors
  • Tinted windows
  • Variable-intermittent windshield wipers
  • Tilt steering wheel
  • 3.5-inch driver-information display
  • 12-volt power outlet
  • Sunglasses holder
  • Vanity mirrors
  • Front map lights
  • Matte-silver inside door handles
  • Woven tricot cloth seats
  • Six-way driver’s seat
  • Polyurethane steering wheel and gear shift knob
  • Air conditioning
  • 5-inch audio display
  • Four-speaker AM/FM/MP3/SiriusXM audio system
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • USB port
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • Power windows with one-touch-down driver’s side
  • Power door locks
  • Hill-start assist
  • Rearview camera

 

S: $16,190

  • All LX features, plus
  • Front center sliding armrest
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat
  • 7-inch touchscreen
  • UVO Play Infotainment System
  • Two tweeter speakers
  • Rear USB charger
  • Cruise control
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Alarm
  • Folding key

Who Should Buy the 2019 Nissan Versa?

Is value at the top of your list when shopping for a subcompact sedan? If so, there are no better values than the 2019 Nissan Versa. This tiny sedan not only has one of the lowest starting prices in its class, but it also has a slew of standard tech to meet the wants of the younger crowd.

Who Should Buy the 2019 Kia Rio?

Buyers who want top-notch style with their budget-friendly ride and will shell out some extra dough to get it will prefer the Rio. It has the newest Kia design language that includes one of the best-looking cabins in the subcompact market. Plus, its optional $800 S Technology Package makes it safer for growing families.

 

Whether you need to drop the kids off at school in Saginaw, heading to work in Midland, or just cruising to Bay City for a night out, the 2019 Nissan Versa can get you there efficiently while delivering impressive value for your dollar. Head down to Garber Nissan Hyundai serving the Saginaw area today to test drive this value-centric sedan. Can’t make it to our Midland area Nissan dealership today? Stop by our online inventory page to see all our in-stock 2019 Versa models, choose the one suitable for you, and schedule a test drive later.