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2013 Kia Rio SX

Bottom line: It gets a strong “buy” here. With attractive styling inside and out, high-quality cabin materials and finish, excellent small-car safety, and a strong and fuel-efficient engine, it represents excellent value for the dollar.

Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets good marks in all three.

Head-turning quotient: Excellent. It’s among the best small cars available.

Body style/layout: The Kia Rio is a subcompact four-door sedan available in base LX, mid-level EX and top-of-the-line SX trim levels.

Engines/transmissions: The Rio SX comes standard with a 16-valve, gasoline-direct-injection 1.6-liter in-line four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing. The engine is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually.

Capacities: There are seats for five people. Cargo capacity is 13.7 cubic feet. Fuel capacity is 11.4 gallons. Regular-grade gasoline is recommended.

Mileage: I averaged 36 miles per gallon in spirited highway driving.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear), four-wheel anti-lock brake protection, emergency braking assistance, emergency brake-force distribution, electronic stability and traction control, and side and head air bags.

Prices: The 2013 Kia Rio SX starts at $17,700, with a dealer’s invoice price at $16,870. Price as tested is $21,240, including $2,790 in options (onboard navigation with high-resolution backup camera, premium sound system with satellite radio, push-button ignition, leather seat covering, heated front seats, power glass roof and a $750 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $20,105.

— Warren Brown