While many Canadians in the market for a new vehicle want a crossover, SUV, or pickup truck, the subcompact passenger car segment remains relatively popular – especially among city dwellers, drivers looking to save on fuel, or those with a smaller budget. Our panel of automotive experts have voted for the Kia Rio as the winner of this year’s Best Subcompact Car award because it has something for all of these buyers: smart packaging, a fuel-efficient powertrain, and an approachable starting price of just $17,295.

This is a two-time win for the Kia Rio, which also won its segment in last year’s edition of the AutoTrader Awards. The 2022 Kia Rio is essentially the same as the model that impressed our judges so much last year; it received a mid-cycle update for 2021 that included revised exterior styling, an updated cabin, and new technology.

The main draw of the 2022 Kia Rio is its low base price of $17,295. For that price, buyers will find themselves in the Kia Rio 5-door LX+, which comes with a 1.6L four-cylinder engine producing 120 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque, along with a six-speed manual transmission. The vast majority of Canadian buyers will want the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which bumps the base price up to $18,495.

The 2022 Kia Rio has more going for it than just its affordable price, though. It also offers an impressive array of standard equipment considering its low point of entry, including an eight-inch display screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and heated seats, a must-have for our winters.

Looking beyond the price, our team of experts voted for the 2022 Kia Rio for many reasons, one of which being its tidy, sensible interior layout. The Rio is one of the most user-friendly small cars available today, with clearly marked gauges sitting directly in front of the driver, a large standard infotainment screen with easy-to-read fonts, and chunky dials for the audio and HVAC systems. We also appreciate the smart packaging of the five-door hatchback, which offers an impressive 928 litres of cargo space with the rear seats folded flat – nearly 30 litres more than the Nissan Kicks crossover.

Moving outside, in a world of overly styled crossovers with huge grilles and fake exhaust cutouts, this sensibly-styled hatchback is a surprisingly refreshing sight.

The 2022 Kia Rio is unique in today’s Canadian automotive marketplace. Many of the Rio’s direct rivals have been discontinued in recent years, including the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, and Nissan Micra. The Nissan Versa is a solid subcompact entry, however, it’s only available as a four-door sedan and not a hatchback. The Chevrolet Spark is another potential alternative, but is much older than the Rio, is not as smartly packaged and is in need of a comprehensive redesign.

Our jury of more than 20 automotive experts from across Canada considered and evaluated every single new car available for Canadians to buy in this segment and voted for the best one using a dozen different criteria ranging from safety, fuel efficiency, quality, technology, performance, and more. Jurors also weigh these categories based on the segment’s intended purpose, for example, value, fuel efficiency, and practicality are given more weight than outright performance in the subcompact category.

In awarding the Kia Rio as the Best Subcompact Car, AutoTrader is certifying it as a vehicle that we’d confidently recommend to our readers, as well as our friends and family. With a low base price, fuel efficient powertrain, spacious cabin and up-to-date safety and infotainment technology, the Kia Rio represents the best subcompact car in Canada and is a smart buy for first time car shoppers and seasoned drivers alike.