Cruising in my new 2019 KIA Rio and Android Auto frustrations – Review

Cruising in my new 2019 Kia Rio Hatchback…and how I’ve dealt with the frustrations of the new technology of Android Auto  (Love the car…Android Auto…not so much).  

Time for a new car

The Quiet Cruiser needs something to drive to Cruise ports…right?  And it has to be reliable since we drive long distances, which is why we recently started checking out new cars.  I did my homework, or at least I thought I did, and we finally decided to start looking at Kia Rio Hatchbacks.  We have a 2015 Kia Soul, which I love, but I like the look of the new crossovers.  The Kia Rio Hatchback was the closest I could get to that look, with a price I could afford.  I hate car shopping, but it had to be done.

Car shopping…ugh…

I really wanted a blue car, so I researched and found two blue 2019 Kia Rios in town.  One new one at a local Kia dealership, and one used one with 2,000 miles on it at a large used car chain.  We headed off to the new car dealership first, and were greeted immediately by a salesman.  Turns out that we were from the same hometown, so it started out well.  I drove the car and liked the ride.  I checked out the hands free buttons on the steering wheel to change the radio channel, and it worked, just like in my Kia Soul.  We took it on the freeway and it drove well and it had the options I wanted. 

But when we started negotiations with the salesman, it all went downhill.  My husband likes a good deal, he used to sell cars.  The dealership wouldn’t budge.  We decided to check out some other dealerships, and the salesman got incredibly rude.  We decided to leave and not come back. Someone needs to tell that salesman not to say what he thinks.  But I really wanted a blue car, so we drove to the used car dealership.  That was one busy dealership!  We walked around, couldn’t find the blue Kia Rio, and left, without ever talking to a salesman. 

Another Kia dealer…well, it started out well too

We went to lunch and decided to check out the one other Kia dealer on the other side of town.  They only had white Kia Rio hatchbacks, but we checked it out anyway.  We looked at the car, it seemed okay, so we started talking to the sales girl.  My mistake was, I admit, that I assumed that all Kia Rio’s had the same included options.  We negotiated, and this Kia dealership was better at meeting our price.  We then took a test drive with the salesperson, the car drove well, and we went to financing.  Be aware that Kia does have a 5 year warranty.  We were told in financing that it had a 3 year, that Kia had decided to end the 5 year, and that we should buy an extended 10 year warrant to cover us.  Not nice to lie to the Quiet Cruiser. 

Bluetooth…the start of my frustrations

It wasn’t till we got home with the car and I tried to set up the phone that I realized that the Bluetooth on the Kia Rio doesn’t work like it does on my Kia Soul.  I hooked my Motorola e5 Plus to the car with Bluetooth quickly, but when I pushed the button on the steering wheel, the screen said that the phone had to be connected via USB cable to work. Wait a minute…that’s not what the manual said. 

Android Auto…and so it continues

So, I got my phone’s USB charging cable, hooked it up to the car and then to my phone…and my phone was not recognized by the car.  Well, that’s frustrating.  I tried different cables with no luck. and then I tried resetting the Android Auto System and nothing changed.  Two solid days were wasted trying everything I could think of on my own.  It was so frustrating that I drove 30 miles all the way back to the Kia dealer after work on Monday to get help. 

And not a lot of help at the Kia dealership either

After I got to the dealership, I saw my salesgirl, who came up to help me right away.  She got into my car and then plugged her phone into the auto.  And her phone worked.  Well, at least that helped, but now what was wrong with my phone?  And I realized finally, or maybe woke up, that she had not shown us any of the features of the car when we were looking at it, and that someone should have helped us set up the Android Auto since it’s such a new technological feature on the car.  The Bluetooth was still not working the way I thought it should be working however, and she told me it was defective and to make an appointment to bring it into service.  Now, I’d only had the car three days at that point. 

Factory reset of my phone

My last resort on my phone was to do a factory reset.  So, I backed it all up and did the reset, and lo and behold, it worked on my Android Auto when I plugged it in!  Hallelujah!  If I had been helped at the dealership with this, I may have known that a lot earlier…but better late than never.  I still could not phone with Bluetooth without the phone being hooked up by a USB cable though, like the manual showed.  

There is a huge lack of information concerning Android Auto on the internet, and nothing would tell me why my Bluetooth would not work without the USB for hands free calls.  I spoke to the general manager on Tuesday and he said to bring my car in for service and he would get me a loaner for the next day.  So…back again after work to the dealership to talk to a manager.  I told him my concerns, and also asked him what maintenance was included.  At this point I was getting exhausted.

Finally…a helpful salesman

The next day I went to get the car, and they said nothing was wrong with the system.  I asked them to have a sales person that knew about the car’s features and how to work them come and help me.  I felt at that point that my salesgirl wasn’t all that familiar with how it worked.  He showed me how to get the phone working hands free while plugged into USB.  

I’m still not able to use Bluetooth by itself in the way that the manual says I can, but I’ve given up trying. The new salesman told me about the car’s features and how to work them.  He told me that the car didn’t include Sirius, which I had not been told when I bought it.  But he was very helpful and I’d wished that he had been my sales person instead of the one I originally  got.  Lesson learned, write down a list, and ask lots of questions.  Don’t just assume that one car has the same features as another of the same brand and model.  Do your homework.

And onto the review of the car

So, how does the 2019 Kia Rio Hatchback ride?  I’ve had it just over a week, and so far, so good.  Like I said, we have a 2015 Kia Soul, which I love, and the Rio drives very similar, very smooth, and pretty quiet.  It’s a smaller car than the Soul, but it still has plenty of room.  We’re not tall, so I’m not sure how it would be for a taller person.  I have plenty of legroom and the seats are comfortable.  The steering wheel tilts up and down, but it does not telescope.  The center console is small, and only holds a box of Kleenex.  The glove compartment is very small also.  There are pockets on the front doors. The back seats fold down to make room for luggage.  That’s a necessity for cruising.  If we had people sitting in the back seat, there probably wouldn’t be room enough for our cruising luggage. 

The AC unit cools the car down fairly quickly.  We live in the south, and it’s been a hot fall, but I haven’t had a hard time getting the car cool enough to drive.  It has a small gas tank, and the gasoline level seems to go down faster in the beginning, then slows down.  My husband says it’s because of the shape of the gas tank. The gas mileage so far seems pretty good.

The windshield wipers are good, and there is an intermittent wiper with different settings. Since this is a hatchback there is also a rear wiper.  Visibility is good in all windows.  There is an automatic setting for the headlights, and they did come on when it was raining.  The car does come with a spare tire, which is better than on the Soul, which came with a can of fix a flat.


There is an AM / FM radio with a touch screen.  There are plenty of presets, they are not buttons like in older cars, but are on the touch screen.  You have to be in radio mode to use them and you can use them without your car being hooked up to Bluetooth or Android Auto. There is a button on the steering wheel to flip through preset stations, but you cannot use the talk button to request a station like you can in the Kia Soul.  

I believe that you can plug in a USB memory stick to listen to music, but I haven’t tried that yet.  There is an auxiliary hookup by the USB port.  I do like that there is a USB plug behind the console in the back seat area, but that is for charging only.  There is also a backup camera which really comes in handy.  This will come on anytime you have the car in reverse.


I am really not a fan of the Bluetooth on this car.  If you read the instructions in the manual, it looks like you can use your phone hands free just with the Bluetooth.  And there is just no help out there on the internet for this car where Bluetooth is concerned.  On my 2015 Kia Soul you can make hands free calls from your steering wheel with just Bluetooth.  The phone can be anywhere in the car, and you can still make and receive calls.  You can also change a radio station or mode just by pressing the talk button and asking for what you want.  None of that seems possible with the 2019 Kia Rio.  All that the Bluetooth seems to do is download your contacts. I don’t know why they would have changed this feature.

Android Auto…kind of frustrating…a lot frustrating if you’re not tech savvy

I’m still trying to figure out the Android Auto and I’m not sure how I’m going to feel about it in time. Right now it’s just a frustration.   It might in time prove itself worthy, we’ll see how that goes.  One thing to remember is that you have to have your mobile data enabled to use Android Auto.  I have Consumer Cellular on a limited data plan, so I have to be careful of just how much I’m using.

Best advice…have the dealership help you install this entire system before you leave the lot.  If you absolutely have to do it yourself…make sure that you are parked…and then pair your phone with the Kia Rio by Bluetooth. This was pretty easy. Check out the manual, and make sure your Bluetooth is enabled on your smart phone or I phone. Follow the instructions in the manual.  If your contacts will not download click on the settings button beside the Motorola under your Bluetooth settings on your phone and check off where it says “Allow contacts to download”.  This worked for me.  You can dial from the screen now, but you can’t use the hands free buttons on your steering wheel. 

And now you need a USB cable

But you’re not done yet.  Now you have to connect your phone to the car via a USB cable.  They say that you can use the one that you use to charge your phone, but I ended up buying a sync and charge cable from Walmart because I couldn’t get anything to work.  I don’t know if I needed that.  Once the phone connects to the car, it should start downloading Android Auto automatically.  For me, it would start downloading and then stop every single time I tried, and no matter what I tried. 

As stated above, I finally figured out after days of trying and frustration that there was a problem with my phone. Motorola was no help and didn’t know what was wrong, and the Kia dealer was no help, so I finally did a backup and factory reset of my phone as a last resort.  And that helped for some reason.  After you attach the phone and download android auto, you can use your steering wheel buttons to receive and make calls. I also found out from the second salesman who helped me, you cannot place calls if your car door is open.  I found that advice nowhere else, including the manual.   That may have been part of my problem.

Android Auto apps

So far I’ve tried the Google Maps, Pandora, and I Heart Radio apps.  I’ve found that Google Maps isn’t all that accurate.  It tried to take me to work the longest route that is out there. I’m trying out Waze maps app now.  They both work like a GPS with voice directions.  Pandora radio is good, and I like the Sunny station from I Heart Radio because it’s all music that I like from the 70’s and 80’s with no commercials.  As good as Sirius but without a charge. 

I have noticed that Bluetooth doesn’t always connect from my phone to the car, and then I cannot do anything with the voice control.  It’s a frustration because then I have to find a place to park and try and reset my Bluetooth.  One thing that I did discover over the weekend that I did like was that if I use my Facebook Messenger app for texts, the car will read the text for me, and then allow me to answer via voice.  Cool!

Please don’t try to set up any of this while you are driving!  That is obviously not a very wise thing to do.  

And what doesn’t it have?


I did a lot of research on the 2019 Kia Rio, and thought it had features that it does not have.  It does not have the ability to connect to the UVO app, which is an app that keeps your maintenance and diagnositics right on your phone.  It also calls for roadside assistance.  I guess that UVO is already part of the voice system, but you can’t use the app.  

Sirius XM

With all the reading that I did, I thought that I’d have Sirius XM with a three month free trial.  I didn’t realize till I got home and tried to set it up, that I didn’t have the ability on my screen.  

Heated rear view mirrors

I had thought that the Kia Rio had heated rear view mirrors, but it doesn’t.

Forward collision warning

Another feature that I’d read about is forward collision warning.  This car does not have that.  These things may be available as options, but be sure to ask what is included in the car you are looking at.

I like the car, hopefully will like the Android Auto app soon

So, I guess that I would recommend the 2019 Kia Rio Hatchback.  I do like the way it drives and it’s comfortable, at least for a smaller person.  It has enough luggage room for two people since the back seats fold down, more than that may not work.  And it’s cute.  

I didn’t want a white car, but it’s growing on me.  I’m making it my own by adding accessories.  I found that I could put my Disney antenna topper onto the antenna if I made the hole just a bit bigger.  I also have a Disney Doombuggy sticker on it, a Haunted Mansion Foolish Mortals sticker, and a custom license plate frame that I got on Etsy.  We may also pinstripe it in blue. And I’ve named it…what else?…The Ghost Host.

As for the Android Auto, unless you’re pretty tech savvy, have the dealership get it going for you.  I thought I was fairly tech savvy, and it was a very frustrating experience trying to figure out why it was not working.  Plus,  you do have to use the Bluetooth and USB cable with Android Auto to make hands free calls.  However, if you just have the Bluetooth hooked up,  you can make a call with the touch screen.  

Let me know in the comments section below if you have any questions about the Kia Rio Hatchback and I’ll try to answer for you.

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