Photo gallery: 2012 Kia Rio Sedan

One of the best compact cars I've driven this summer is the 2013 Kia Rio Sedan. Actually, it might be one of the best cars I've driven this year. It has a lot of value packed into a base price of $13,600, including Bluetooth connectivity, USB port and steering wheel audio controls. And if you really want to deck it out with all the whistles and bells -- think heated leather seats, navigation and push-button start -- get the SX trim level and the premium package. You'll top out at about $20K.

That's what the test car did, and I thoroughly loved it. The 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine delivered a very peppy 138 horsepower that was perfect for urban driving as well as highway merges. EPA estimates 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, and I averaged a perfectly acceptable 32.8 mpg in combined driving.

I know some people shy away from Kia because it isn't "cool." But I'll tell you right now that's outdated thinking, and you're really missing out if you don't put Kia on your must-test list when you're buying any car. From Sportage to Optima, the full line is worth a look. And once you look, I'd be surprised if you didn't buy.

Oh, and if you're looking for a Chicago worthy rating, I'd give this car a 10, hands down. From fuel economy to functionality to pricing, this car has everything an urban driver needs ... and then some.

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  • I suppose that for "cool" one could get a Hyundai and have a baby Benz. Reportedly, though, the Kia is the better car.

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