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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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    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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    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 William Maley
      When I was driving the 2020 Lexus GS in late February, rumors were flying around that the model would be discontinued at the end of the model year. There was some credence to this rumor as sales had been falling and Lexus hasn’t been updating the model to keep it somewhat up to date with competitors. It would sometime later that we learned that the GS would be going away at the end. So this is the last look at a sedan that I liked at the beginning but now have some mixed feelings.
      Not much has changed in the overall design of the GS since our last review in 2018. The F-Sport has its tweaks such as a mesh grille insert, more aggressive bumpers, and dual-spoke wheels. I still find this sedan very striking, especially in this bright blue. The interior is much the same as the 2013 and 2017 models I have driven. Plus points are high-quality materials, very comfortable front seats, and an easy to read instrument cluster. Downsides are the very dated infotainment system and confounding controller for it; and tall transmission tunnel that eats into rear legroom. Power comes from a 3.5L V6 used in many Lexus and Toyota vehicles. In the GS, it produces 311 horsepower and 280 pound-feet. My test vehicle came with the optional all-wheel drive system, which means a six-speed automatic is standard. Sticking with rear-wheel drive gets you the eight-speed. The performance of the V6 doesn’t really wow as it once did. 0-60 takes around six seconds for the AWD version, which is unremarkable as other competitors can do the same in around five seconds or less. Not helping is the six-speed automatic which limits the flexibility of the engine. The pluses to the V6 are minimal NVH levels and silky smooth power delivery. The EPA says the GS 350 AWD will return 19 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. I saw an average of 22 mpg during my week. The GS surprised me as to how it well handled in the corners, especially in the F-Sport trim. That continues here as the GS 350 F-Sport AWD shows off minimal body roll and sharp steering. You do miss out on some of the trick features on the RWD model such as limited-slip differential and variable gear-ratio steering, but you’re likely not to notice it. What is a bit surprising is the GS F-Sport’s ride quality. Those expecting more bumps to disrupt the ride will be surprised as the GS glides over them like it was nothing. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Previously, the GS 350 F-Sport would have been my recommendation for a luxury midsize sedan with a sporting edge. Now, it is difficult for me to recommend the GS at all considering the age and how many competitors have moved forward. Right now, I would go with a BMW 5-Series as being the one for sport while the S90 takes the place of being something a bit different in the class. Still, if I had the opportunity to get my hands on the GS 350 F-Sport, I would do it. This is a prime example of do as I say, not as I do. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the GS 350, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: GS
      Trim: 350 F-Sport AWD
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve VVT- V6
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 311 @ 6,400
      Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/26/22
      Curb Weight: 3,891 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $54,505
      Author's Note: Unfortunately, I lost my copy of the window sticker for this particular test vehicle, hence why I don't have the as-tested price or option list for this review.

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