The Perfect Small Car for America: Introducing the 2024 Kia K3

2024 Kia Rio

The Kia Rio is dead, but fear not, for the Kia K3 has arrived. While the Rio was undoubtedly a great car, Kia has undergone significant changes over the past two decades, prompting the need for rebranding some of its long-standing models. Enter the K3, Kia’s next-generation entry-level sedan, unveiled recently in Mexico. With its ideal size and features, the K3 has the potential to excel in the American market if Kia decides to bring it here.

The Perfect Dimensions

Sitting between the Rio and Forte in terms of size, the K3 measures approximately 178.9 inches long – a length reminiscent of a decade-old Honda Civic. Finally, a compact car that feels just right. The K3 bears some resemblance to the K5 midsize sedan, with its backswept quarter panel windows and fastback-style roof. However, it boasts unique elements that prevent it from falling into the “same sausage, different length” syndrome. Noteworthy are the unpainted plastic trim around the wheel arches and sills, a rare sight for sedans that helps protect against rock chips.

Functional and Classy Interior

Inside the K3, functionality meets sophistication. While some may not be fans of the capacitive touch radio and climate panel, everything else in the cabin is designed with physical buttons, knobs, or separate displays. Unlike many modern cars, the interior temperature controls are easily accessible and separate volume and tuning knobs are within reach. The K3 even features traditional cold-weather controls, including physical buttons for heated seats and windshield defrosters. And let’s not forget the classic handbrake, a nostalgic touch that adds character to the center console.

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Another impressive aspect is the full-scale digital instrument cluster, which cleverly utilizes a 4.2-inch multi-function display. Speed and revs are prominently displayed on large alarm clock-style displays, a cost-saving retro feature that appeals to both nostalgia enthusiasts and those with visual impairments. Moreover, prepare to be amazed by the K3’s remarkably spacious trunk, boasting 19.2 cubic feet of capacity – larger than any current midsize sedan. It’s a real engineering marvel.

K3 Interior

Powertrain Options

Under the hood, the new Kia K3 houses a standard 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, delivering an economical 121 horsepower and 114 lb.-ft. of torque. But that’s not the only powertrain option available. Some markets will offer a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with even more impressive efficiency. However, the star of the show is the available two-liter, 150-horsepower four-cylinder engine, which closely resembles the two-liter Nu engine currently found in America’s Forte. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic, although the more powerful engine will only be available in an automatic configuration.

Safety First

Now, you might be concerned about the safety of this compact car, especially since small cars in developing markets don’t always have the best reputation in terms of safety. However, fear not, for Mexico has recently elevated its safety standards substantially. As a result, the new K3 comes equipped with six airbags, electronic stability control, and an advanced driver assistance suite that rivals what is currently available on U.S.-spec Forte models.

K3 Safety

Is This the End for the Forte and Rio?

With the Forte currently being called the K3 in Korea, it raises questions about the future of Kia’s next-generation compact sedan. Could the new K3 potentially replace both the Forte and the Rio, offering a perfectly sized product? And what about the next-generation Ceed, the European Golf-sized hatchback – will it become a global car? Only time will tell. In the meantime, production of the new Kia K3 is set to begin in Mexico this December, and enthusiasts in the United States can only hope that it will make its way to our shores. After bidding farewell to the Rio in multiple markets, a worthy successor is long overdue.

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Coming soon!


The 2024 Kia K3 is poised to become the perfect small car for American drivers. With its well-balanced dimensions, functional yet sophisticated interior, versatile powertrain options, and enhanced safety features, the K3 offers an enticing package. While we eagerly await its arrival in the United States, we can’t help but imagine the possibilities this new Kia model holds for the future of compact sedans. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting addition to the Kia lineup.

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