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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2018 Kia Stinger GT1 AWD

      And now for something completely different from Kia

    The Kia Stinger has been one of the most hotly anticipated vehicles in recent years. Here was a model that promised to rival models from luxury brands in terms styling, performance, and handling at a lower price. It felt like Kia was bitting off more they could chew, but I was willing to give it a chance. After spending a week in a Stinger GT1, I have to say it delivers on most of those promises.

    Depending on where you look at the Stinger, the impression will range from something quite beautiful to a bit of a mess. Straight on the front, the Stinger looks like something from an Italian or German automaker with a narrow front grille, distinctive cuts on for the bumper, and a slightly contoured hood. The back is neatly shaped with a rounded tailgate, taillights that run the length of the rear end, and quad exhaust pipes. But the Stinger’s design begins to lose some elegance when looked at from an angle. Take the rear as an example. The way Kia tries to bring the coupe-like roofline, bulging rear fenders, 19-inch wheels, and taillights that extend into the fenders ends up looking somewhat awkward.

    Color also plays a big role in making or breaking the Stinger’s look. In the case of my tester, the white does help minimize some of the polarizing parts of the vehicle. Going with red only emphasizes them and that will turn off some folks.

    Compared to the outgoing and expressive look of the exterior, the Stinger’s interior is quite disappointing. The minimalist approach Kia employs in the Stinger with minimal brightwork and narrow center stack doesn’t fully fit the exclusive image being presented outside. Not helping are some of the materials used in the Stinger. Considering that Kia is pitting this model against the likes of Audi and BMW, some of the plastics don’t match up to the image being portrayed. 

    The front seats in the Stinger GT offer excellent back support, along with numerous power adjustments including side bolstering. I did wish the bottom cushion was slightly longer to allow for better thigh support. Those sitting in the back will find adequate legroom, but headroom is tight due to the sloping roofline. It was a bit disappointing that Kia doesn’t offer seat heaters for the rear, considering some of their other models like the Optima offer it. One place that the Stinger excels at is cargo space. Open the rear hatch and you’ll find 23.3 cubic feet of space. This expands to 40.9 when the rear seats are folded. Only the Buick Regal Sportback and BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe offer more space.

    The Stinger GT uses an 8-inch touchscreen featuring Kia’s UVO infotainment system. We have heaped much praise on UVO on the system being simple to use and offering a number of features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I don’t like the placement of touchscreen on top of the dash as it makes hard to reach. Kia should consider adding some sort of control knob on the center console to improve overall usability.

    GT models get a 3.3L twin-turbo V6 with 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. Our tester came with the optional all-wheel drive system. I have experienced this engine in Genesis G80 Sport and G90, and have raved about how it delivers ample power no matter the driving situation, along with minimal turbo lag. Those same traits continue in the Stinger GT as the engine moves the vehicle at a surprising rate. The eight-speed automatic transmission delivers rapid and smooth shifts.

    The big downside the twin-turbo V6 is fuel economy. EPA rates the Stinger GT at 19 City/25 Highway/21 Combined for both rear and all-wheel drive. My average for the week landed around 18.2 mpg partly due to me dipping a bit too much into the boost.

    Kia has been making a big deal about how the Stinger GT can rival competitors from other brands in terms of handling. They bring up how Albert Biermann, the former head at BMW’s M performance division, helped in the development of the chassis. Seems like a lot of talk, but the good news is that Kia has delivered. Down a winding road, the Stinger GT exhibits qualities seen on such vehicles like the Cadillac ATS and Lexus IS 350 F-Sport with excellent body control and a willingness to quickly transition from one corner to another. Steering is where Kia could do some more work as it doesn’t quite have the same feel or weight as those models mentioned above.

    Ride quality is another area where Stinger GT is surprising. Despite the 19-inch wheels and sporty suspension setup, the Stinger GT provides a compliant ride with only large bumps making their way inside. Road noise is noticeable, due mostly to the summer tire and wheel setup on the vehicle. Wind noise was kept to very acceptable levels.

    The Kia Stinger seems to be similar in the overall idea as the K900 in serving as an attainable halo vehicle. While the K900 aimed at those wanting something along the lines of an S-Class or 7-Series, the Stinger GT serves those who something that can rival the likes the BMW 3/4-Series, Audi A4/A5, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class not only in terms of performance, but also in luxury. The end result is mixed. Kia has nailed down the performance and exterior styling, but the interior doesn’t fully match the ambitions being presented. Fuel economy could be slightly better.

    But the biggest problem for the Stinger GT is convincing buyers to spend almost $50,000 on a Kia. My GT1 AWD tester with a few options came to an as-tested price of $48,350. Telling someone you spent that much for a Kia sedan will raise some eyebrows. Despite how good the Stinger GT is to look at or drive, the Kia badge on the front will ultimately push most people away. 

    If you’re part of a small group who could care less about what badge is fitted onto a vehicle, then you’ll find the Stinger GT is a very impressive package.

    Gallery: 2018 Kia Stinger GT1 AWD

    Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Stinger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2018
    Make: Kia
    Model: Stinger
    Trim: GT1 AWD
    Engine: 3.3L Twin-Turbo V6
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000
    Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 1,300-4,500
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/25/21
    Curb Weight: 4,023 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Sohari, South Korea
    Base Price: $45,450
    As Tested Price: $48,350 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Advanced Driver Assistance Package - $2,000

    Edited by William Maley



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    The rear end looks Maserati-sh... the greenhouse from the side looks a lot like the previous Optima.  I like the front and interior, esp. in the two tone.   

    Edited by Robert Hall
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    4 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    Fuel economy is a bit disappointing. 

    That's unfortunately a trend with the turbocharged-sixes and V8s from Hyundai and Kia.

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    12 hours ago, William Maley said:

    That's unfortunately a trend with the turbocharged-sixes and V8s from Hyundai and Kia.

    Yep. Much as I would like this as a sedan....in many ways the 33k Mustang GT blows it away. 

    Would like modern styling of the Stinger over the Retro styling of the Mustang...but...mechanically...Ford Powertrain has it all over this. 

    Now a modern mustang based sports sedan....we might be talking. 

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    And I think my problem with this (one of my two favorite Asian cars) is that it is a bargain at a little over 30K for a base model. Same thing with the special edition WRX STI we looked at here in another thread....base WRX is a deal in the twenties....option it up into the 40's as a premium STI and other things are much better use of money.

    Question for William and everyone else....if you had 45-50K to spend on a car and it could be anything other than a WRX STI or a Stinger....what would it be? New only.

    Not to derail thread....but I can't help thinking other vehicles would be that much money better spent.

    Premium Mustang GT for me.

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    For the winter climate here for year round use if I had no little kids maybe something like a G70 AWD with the same motor as the Stinger GT.  Maybe an A4.

     

    Edited by frogger
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    13 minutes ago, frogger said:

    For the winter climate here for year round use if I had no little kids maybe something like a G70 AWD with the same motor as the Stinger GT.  Maybe an A4.

     

    Both excellent choices.

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    ccap41

    Posted (edited)

    33 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    Question for William and everyone else....if you had 45-50K to spend on a car and it could be anything other than a WRX STI or a Stinger....what would it be? New only.

    I'm going to take this as my only vehicle and not a toy.

    I think it would be between things like an Edge ST, high trim Jeep Grand Cherokee, Audi SQ5, BMW X3 40i.

    The Audi and BMW both crest 50k but I'll leave them on a possible wheel'n dealin options. 

    Buuuuut it would also be difficult not to get a '19 Ram Rebel(with some more options) or a Longhorn or Lariat F150. 

    Rebel + 5.7 + air suspension(and required tech package) + 12 inch screen = 53k and we all know those get discounts.. That would be a tough option to pass up. 

    Edited by ccap41
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    3 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    I'm going to take this as my only vehicle and not a toy.

    I think it would be between things like an Edge ST, high trim Jeep Grand Cherokee, Audi SQ5, BMW X3 40i.

    The Audi and BMW both crest 50k but I'll leave them on a possible wheel'n dealin options. 

    Buuuuut it would also be difficult not to get a '19 Ram Rebel(with some more options) or a Longhorn or Lariat F150. 

    Rebel + 5.7 + air suspension(and required tech package) + 12 inch screen = 53k and we all know those get discounts.. That would be a tough option to pass up. 

    All of those passed through my head also.

    Best value of all of these dollar for dollar...pains me to say it but....Edge ST...hands down.

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    4 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    All of those passed through my head also.

    Best value of all of these dollar for dollar...pains me to say it but....Edge ST...hands down.

    It depends what you value, really. 

    Nothing else can truck like the trucks, obviously.. Jeeps have hella resale value(along with trucks) but the Edge will probably just be the most fun to drive. 

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    8 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    It depends what you value, really. 

    Nothing else can truck like the trucks, obviously.. Jeeps have hella resale value(along with trucks) but the Edge will probably just be the most fun to drive. 

    I was kinda thinking fun to drive.

    The current generation of Dodge trucks are nothing short of spectacular.

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    3 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    Yep. Much as I would like this as a sedan....in many ways the 33k Mustang GT blows it away. 

    Would like modern styling of the Stinger over the Retro styling of the Mustang...but...mechanically...Ford Powertrain has it all over this. 

    Now a modern mustang based sports sedan....we might be talking. 

    To make a counter point to your Mustang claim, we are talking about to totally different cars and a Mustang based sport sedan, while it would be a nice thing to see, would certainly be far pricier than your average Mustang Coupe. 

     

    Personally, despite that Optima greenhouse in the profile, this car shows 1000 times better in person and having sat in one (sadly didn’t get to drive it), I actually dig the minimalist approach and design on the inside. That makes the focus the road and not the shiny bells, whistle, and bright work that is so predominant in cars today (in that price range anyway). Just my two cents but I would have one in blue in a heartbeat. 

     

    83D9683C-F993-483D-93B9-05A2D1704155.jpeg

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    6 minutes ago, surreal1272 said:

    To make a counter point to your Mustang claim, we are talking about to totally different cars and a Mustang based sport sedan, while it would be a nice thing to see, would certainly be far pricier than your average Mustang Coupe. 

     

    Personally, despite that Optima greenhouse in the profile, this car shows 1000 times better in person and having sat in one (sadly didn’t get to drive it), I actually dig the minimalist approach and design on the inside. That makes the focus the road and not the shiny bells, whistle, and bright work that is so predominant in cars today (in that price range anyway). Just my two cents but I would have one in blue in a heartbeat. 

     

    83D9683C-F993-483D-93B9-05A2D1704155.jpeg

    One in that color Blue lives just around the corner for me. It often sits in the driveway when the weather is better....my wife and I pass by it when I walk at night. You are right...much better in person.

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    3 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    Question for William and everyone else....if you had 45-50K to spend on a car and it could be anything other than a WRX STI or a Stinger....what would it be? New only.

    For 45-50K option to this Stinger GT1 AWD I would get the following:

    2018 Dodge Durango GT Rallye AWD with In-Violet Clear-Coat paint job and the Burnished Bronze Aluminum Wheels. You can also get Gloss black rims or their Hyper Black rims which to me look more like a Matte black color.

    image.png

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    9 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    For 45-50K option to this Stinger GT1 AWD I would get the following:

    2018 Dodge Durango GT Rallye AWD with In-Violet Clear-Coat paint job and the Burnished Bronse Aluminum Wheels. You can also get Gloass black rims or their Hyper Black rims which to me look more like a Matte black color.

    image.png

    I think Darker Rims would help it...although I am Firmly on the Grand Cherokee side of the fence when it comes to these twins.

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    18 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    although I am Firmly on the Grand Cherokee side of the fence when it comes to these twins.

    X10

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    2 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    I think Darker Rims would help it...although I am Firmly on the Grand Cherokee side of the fence when it comes to these twins.

    Playing with the builder, it looks nice with the black rims, but the contrast of the brushed bronze is nice I think also.

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    3 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    One in that color Blue lives just around the corner for me. It often sits in the driveway when the weather is better....my wife and I pass by it when I walk at night. You are right...much better in person.

    I should add that with all big players shuffling full size RWD sedans from their mortal coils (looking at you Chevrolet SS), Kia is in a unique position to seize the RWD sedan market. They only really have the Charger/300 as their competition and the Stinger is leaps and bounds better than those two, from a modern standpoint. They are doing this while undercutting the price of the much pricier and overhyped Germans (for the most part). If the car is allowed to progress in its natural growth cycle (get a few generations under its belt), it will be a top notch ride and I never thought I would have said that about any Kia.

    Edited by surreal1272
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    On 2/1/2019 at 12:38 PM, A Horse With No Name said:

    Question for William and everyone else....if you had 45-50K to spend on a car and it could be anything other than a WRX STI or a Stinger....what would it be? New only.

    Not to derail thread....but I can't help thinking other vehicles would be that much money better spent.

    Premium Mustang GT for me.

     

    Now that I have the bloody internet back, I can give my answer.

    I would either go an Audi S3 Prestige or Genesis G70 2.0T Prestige.

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    On 2/6/2019 at 10:47 AM, A Horse With No Name said:

     

    The results are not surprising. With near on demand torque and AWD, the Stinger will always get off the line faster than the Stang (or Camaro for that matter) but that 100HP difference sure reared its ugly head on the track so the Stang winning was no surprise there at all. Now, imagine even 50 more HP (much less 100 more) on the Stinger. Make fun of the fact that its a Kia (so what?), a derivative of other cars (again, so what? Most cars these days are derivative of something else), or any a number of things people like to slam Kia for. This is a true dark horse car that will impress most folks who are lucky enough to get behind the wheel of it. 

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    Just now, surreal1272 said:

    The results are not surprising. With near on demand torque and AWD, the Stinger will always get off the line faster than the Stang (or Camaro for that matter) but that 100HP difference sure reared its ugly head on the track so the Stang winning was no surprise there at all. Now, imagine even 50 more HP (much less 100 more) on the Stinger. Make fun of the fact that its a Kia (so what?), a derivative of other cars (again, so what? Most cars these days are derivative of something else), or any a number of things people like to slam Kia for. This is a true dark horse car that will impress most folks who are lucky enough to get behind the wheel of it. 

    I would rock one....thinking of CPO stinger for my next car.

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    ykX

    Posted (edited)

    34 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    I would rock one....thinking of CPO stinger for my next car.

    If I wanted another sport sedan, Stinger would be at the top of my list with not too many other options.  I looked at Genesis at the auto show.  It looks much better than Stinger outside and inside, but the rear leg room is almost non existent when I adjusted front seat for myself.  I was really surprised.  Personally, I would go with RWD Stinger, not AWD.

    However, I have a very long commute and probably will go with two car setup next time: cheap and economical commuter and a sports car that i will keep very long time, most likely the Mustang.

    Edited by ykX
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    • By Drew Dowdell
      2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature
      Mazda is on a mission lately to make their products feel more premium. They have been tuning their vehicles to be quieter and more refined in order to give them an air that they are above their class. This second generation of the Mazda CX-5 debuted for the 2017 model year with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder producing 187 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft of torque.  For 2019, Mazda added the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine from the CX-9. On regular gas, the engine produces 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft of torque, but if you fill it up with 93 octane, the horsepower figure bumps up to 250.  Available only on the Grand Touring and Signature trims, the 2.5-T makes the CX-5 the compact crossover with the most available torque.  Mazda sent a CX-5 Signature for me to try for a week to see what I thought.
      There’s no replacement for displacement… maybe
      The biggest CX-5 news for 2019 is the engine options. There is the 2.5-T mentioned above and a 2.2-liter turbo diesel. Both are exciting entries into a relatively conservative segment.  The 2.5-T is the second-largest displacement engine available in the segment, behind the 3.2 liter V6 in the Jeep Cherokee.  This 4-cylinder puts out quite a bit more torque than the bigger V6, though the Jeep produces more horsepower (271 @ 6,500 rpm). Even among 4-cylinders, this is the largest displacement you can get, but none of those others offering 2.5 liters also offers a turbocharger. This engine is rated by the EPA to get 22 city / 27 highway.  I got about 24 mpg in mostly city driving. Zero to 60 is a claimed 6.2 seconds.
      Under normal driving, the engine is quiet and composed, with torque coming on quickly when called for. When the pedal is mashed at speed, the CX-5 leaps forward with minimal turbo lag and gives off a strong growl from under the hood. The only time you can really feel any lag in the turbo is if you are starting from a dead stop. Overall, you never feel without power at the tip of your toes and the sounds, and lack of sounds, from the engine room is quiet and refined.
      One area the CX-5 falls behind on is in the transmission department. Although the transmission offers smooth shift and is willing to downshift when called upon, a 6-speed automatic almost feels anachronistic in a time when all of its direct competition is sporting 8 or 9 speeds. I never thought there would come a day when 6-forward gears aren’t enough, but here we are. Adding 2 or 3 more gears to the CX-5 would further liven up the already sporty crossover and help keep the turbocharged engine firmly in the good places of its torque band.
      Ride: Al dente – Firm but tender
      If there is a brand that Mazda is looking to emulate here by being premium without the premium badge, it would likely be BMW.  The ride is firm, but not so harsh as to spill your latte. Steering is on the heavy side with precise control and great on-center feel.  Body roll is minimal. Pushing the CX-5 into corners is fun and the standard G-Vectoring Control Plus makes sure you stay planted where you intended to be.  The i-ACTIV all-wheel-drive mostly runs in front-wheel-drive mode until microscopic amounts of wheel slip are detected and then some torque is instantly transferred to the rear wheels.  Mazda programs the AWD system to always have at least a little bit of torque going to the rear in order for the transfer of torque to happen faster. 
      It’s what’s inside that matter most
      Inside the CX-5, the premium story continues. There is a distinct lack of cheap plastic even in places where they could probably get away with it. The dash and door panels are made of soft-touch material and there is a tasteful amount of chrome trim. Though the seats look black in pictures, they are actually a very dark brown that Mazda calls Caturra Brown Nappa leather. This leather is a feature of the Signature trim level and they are both heated and ventilated.  Rear passengers get heated outboard seats as well, controlled from inside the fold-down center armrest. Also, a feature of the Signature trim is the real wood dash inlay and ambient cabin lighting. The seats in the CX-5 are very comfortable with just the right combination of support and cushion. They would be most welcome companions on a long road trip. The rear seats are fairly flat and do not offer a lot of legroom.  There is no adjustment fore and aft.  Wind and tire noise has been kept to a minimum.
      There are 4 USB ports, two in the up front armrest and two in the rear armrest. Only one of them allows a connection to the infotainment system.  Oddly, the USB ports don’t seem to put out much juice as my phones were very slow to charge from them.
      The infotainment system is another area similar to BMW.  The unit is controlled by a large dial in the center console or touch screen controls. I found the touch aspect to be laggy and a long reach, so I found myself using the dial. Using the dial to navigate is simple enough, but the menus and layout of the screen could probably use a re-think.  Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both here, for some reason only Apple CarPlay can be activated by touch. Operating either system is frustrating with the dial however, this is especially true for Android Auto which I found frustrating to use without touch screen functionality. At least, unlike BMW, Mazda doesn’t charge you an extra subscription fee to use them. Sound from the Bose speakers was clear, but not especially great.
      There was a time when people mostly bought crossovers for the utility of hauling lots of bulky stuff home from the store, however, these days are different. Now, crossovers are a fashion statement.  Still, the CX-5 has 59.6 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded and 30.9 cubic feet with the seats up.  That is at the high end of mid-pack in the segment with the Honda CR-V being the leader, while the Toyota RAV-4, Chevy Equinox, and Ford Escape all have less. 
      Do you need a safe space? This may be it.
      The Mazda CX-5 Signature comes with a whole host of safety equipment and the center of it all is the heads-up display that keeps the driver informed.  Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane-Keep Assist, and Radar Cruise Control, all have status lights in the heads-up display.  I found the blind spot monitoring system to be especially helpful when I was backing out onto a busy street with limited visibility.  Radar Cruise control is one of my favorite systems of all and I feel it should be standard equipment on all cars. The CX-5 can even read speed limit and stop signs as you approach, changing and updating the local regulations in the heads up display.
      The Signature also comes with active headlights that turn when you turn to help see around corners. They helped me spot a deer on the side of the road I normally would not have seen.
      The Verdict
      The CX-5 Signature is the top of the CX-5 line, so naturally, the price is reflected in that. With an MSRP of $36,890 before any options, the CX-5 may seem pricey, but it comes with everything you could possibly want.  However, when you compare it to other small crossovers with similar equipment it actually ends up comparing favorably to others in its class. I priced out Jeep Cherokee Overland with the 2.0T and technology group and the MSRP is $41,685. A GMC Terrain Denali with all the same option boxes checked? $41,430.  A Honda CR-V can’t even be equipped like the CX-5 because there is no up-level engine option, yet it still rings up to $38,147.
      Overall, Mazda has produced a handsome, sporty, fun to drive crossover with enough utility to remain competitive. They’ve loaded it with safety equipment and kept the price in check. It is definitely worth a look.
       
    • By Drew Dowdell
      MONTH OF OCTOBER
      YEAR-TO-DATE
       Model 2019 2018 2019 2018  Rio 1,939 2,405 21,125 19,696  Forte 6,980 9,537 80,265 84,425  Optima 7,248 7,280 82,914 87,125  Cadenza 153 207 1,209 4,158  Stinger 1,354 1,345 11,770 14,344  K900 17 17 328 277  Soul 6,761 7,951 84,388 85,839  Niro 1,983 2,164 19,945 24,264  Sportage 7,623 6,626 72,727 68,898  Sorento 8,533 6,560 80,733 92,252  Telluride 6,075 N/A 45,284 N/A  Sedona 1,341 1,010 12,917 15,866  Total 50,007 45,102 513,605 497,144 2019 MoM 2018 MoM 2019 YTD 2018 YTD 50,007 45,102 513,605 497,144   10.9%   3.31%
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