Kia Picanto review (2017) – Solid affordable transportation?

The Kia Picanto a.k.a. Kia Morning in the Taiwan auto market is a relative late comer to the A-segment. Even though the car has been around since early in the decade, it was launched in the local market along with the Kia Carens/Rondo in 2015. The Kia used in this review is not a Taiwanese market vehicle, but instead is one from the Caribbean region.  There it competes with other micro/A-segment competitors such as the Chevrolet Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage. Note: Kia does not offer nor plan to offer the Picanto in the United States or Canadian auto markets. The Kia Rio fills that subcompact role in those two markets.

Style & Specs:

Styling-wise this generation 2017 Picanto still looks modern, even with the newly released 2018 Picanto still sharing much of the same style as the 2017 model. The car has quite a bit of sharp edges starting with the Kia signature tiger grille, front bumper, side profile, to the tail lights. Its edgy, yet not too cutesy. It somewhat has a robot look to it, especially with the rear tail gate and tail lights. The interior of the Picanto/Morning is very utilitarian with all the buttons and controls on the dashboard being in a simple and visible layout. The steering wheel is a unique two-spoke wheel, however there are no ways to adjust the position due to no telescopic wheel adjustment controls. Hard plastics abound, but fit and finish especially for an A-segment car seems top notch. The added silver trim on the steering wheel and dashboard adds a nice touch making the Picanto feel more upscale rather than the affordable econo-box that it is. The cloth seats are quite comfortable too! The Picanto comes with a 4 speaker audio system, which works good for a tiny car, which also includes Bluetooth and USB connectivity. The Picanto used in this test drive is not equipped with airbags, however, in other markets including Australia and Taiwan it does have 6 airbags standard.

Interior space is reasonable for the two passengers in the front, however, rear passengers may find cramped accommodations sitting in the back. Trunk space is only big enough for backpacks and duffel bags. Cargo space can be expanded with the 60/40 split folding seats, which will allow you to fit some oversized luggage, though you may have to remove the standard cargo cover to fit that luggage.

The engine is a 1.25L DOHC four banger from Kia’s “Kappa” family. The engine maybe outdated, but its a proven design. It produces a measly 85hp@6000rpm and 12.3kgm@4000rpm. The curb weight ranges from 840–900 kg (1,852–1,984 lb), which makes these performance specs not seem too bad. The transmission is a 4 speed automatic, which to me is better than a CVT that many vehicles in this segment are being equipped now to save fuel. Speaking of fuel economy I averaged 35mpg during the 5 days I had the Picanto as a rental. The fuel tank is small too at a little over 9 gallons, its affordable to fill up!

On the road:

The Picanto’s performance is quite responsive around town. However, with inclines and highway driving the Picanto struggles as it feels a bit under-powered keeping up with traffic. The car will be gear hunting and downshifting when going up hill/Queen Juliana Bridge, which I found a bit annoying. Performance may not be the best, but handling-wise the Picanto is quite fun to drive around town. The electric-assisted steering is direct yet vague, turn radius is tight and precise, and body roll is not as noticeable for a tiny and tall car such as this. On the road the ride is smooth and stable once at highway speed with only tire noise intruding into the cabin. The Picanto takes on bumps and pot holes easily without affecting the ride comfort too much.

The measurement dimensions of the Kia Picanto/Morning:

Wheelbase 2,385 mm (93.9 in), Length 3,595 mm (141.5 in), Width, 1,595 mm (62.8 in), and Height 1,490 mm (58.6 in).

Pricing for the Picanto/Morning in Taiwan starts at $NTD499,000 ($16,500USD) for the base model and tops out at $NTD569,000 ($18,900USD) for the higher end model, though if it were sold in the U.S. I would think pricing would be comparable to the Chevrolet Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage’s $13,000 price points.


3.5 out of 5

The Kia Picanto is an affordable yet simple transportation option for those who want a new car and aren’t interested in buying a used car. Its well made and well equipped and you get a lot of car for the money. Ownership is bound to be affordable and effortless.

Look for a 2018 Kia Picanto X review soon!

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