What Are Some Easy Ways to Improve Horsepower & MPG on a KIA Rio?


The Kia Rio is a four-door sedan created for affordability and fuel economy. Drivers wishing to maintain or improve the miles per gallon average on the Rio may want to employ certain driving strategies such as acceleration technique and even braking to avoid potential fuel wasting. Additionally, horsepower for the modest four-cylinder engine can be easily improved with an upgrade of existing engine hardware that won't require an expensive trip to mechanic or result in a damage to fuel economy.

Regular Vehicle Maintenance

  • The Kia Rio tops out at 36 miles per gallon on the highway with an automatic transmission. This rating can worsen as fuel and oil filters become clogged through the driving process, and it is recommended that these components be changed every 30,000 miles in order to maintain the highest mpg rating for the Rio. Other engine components like oxygen sensors can malfunction and greatly affect fuel economy in modern computer-dependent vehicles like the Rio. According to fueleconomy.gov, a faulty oxygen sensor can diminish fuel economy by as much as 40 percent.

Drive More Efficiently

  • Drivers using the Rio's five-speed manual transmission will generally have better city fuel economy than those with automatics, though aggressive highway driving can still damage the miles per gallon average (as much as 33 percent). This is caused by rapidly accelerating and braking, which forces the engine to use more fuel to maintain speed. An easy way to improve mpg in this area is by observing the highway speed limit. According to fueleconomy.gov, gas mileage drops every 5 miles over 60mph.

Improve Vehicle Hardware

  • The Kia Rio is a passenger vehicle that was built for fuel economy and not specifically engine performance (peak horsepower in a stock Rio is 110). The Rio may still have its four-cylinder engine upgraded to add more horsepower, however, through aftermarket additions. Installing a larger air filter can increase air flow to the engine, which increases horsepower without direct hardware addition, as will changing spark plugs. Additionally, each of these improvements will not hurt the Rio's overall fuel economy.

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