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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 William Maley
      It feels weird to be writing a review of the previous-generation Mazda3 when the new model is currently sitting out front at dealers. But I find this situation to be unique because I had the chance to explore a 2019 Mazda3 to get some first impressions while working on a review of the 2018 model. This gives me a chance to compare the two in certain aspects, along with pondering the question of whether or not the previous model is still a good buy.
      Despite the new model taking the styling up another level, the outgoing model is still a looker. From the bold front end with a large grille and slightly angled headlights, to sculpting running along the sides, the 2018 3 still stands out in the compact crowd. The older design also allows for slightly better rear headroom and a larger area of glass for improved visibility.  But the new 3 holds a significant edge over the old model when it comes to the interior. The modern design and use of high-quality materials really help boost Mazda’s ambitions of becoming something more premium. But the 2018 model I found to have a slightly easier center stack layout and more interior room. One item I didn’t get the chance to play within the 2019 Mazda3 is the infotainment system. Aside from boasting a larger screen, Mazda has also dropped the touchscreen functionality. The latter has been a big issue on some of the recent Mazda vehicles I have driven, including the 2018 3. It is difficult to figure out which parts of the screen are touch-enabled and which aren’t. The system is also beginning to show its age somewhat as the system showed some slowdown in certain areas such as connecting to my phone via Bluetooth. Under the hood of the 2018 model is either a 2.0L or 2.5L SkyActiv-G four-cylinder. My tester had the latter which produces 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet. This engine can also be found under 2019 Mazda3, albeit slightly tweaked - 186 for both horsepower and torque. I find the Mazda3 to be the best application for the 2.5 engine. The lighter weight of the vehicle allows the 2.5 to provide a smooth and quick acceleration for most situations you find yourself in. However, the 2.5 feels like it is running out of breath when going above 70 mph, making passing and merging onto a highway slightly difficult. Where the 3 really shines is down a twisty road. Very few vehicles can match the sharp handling characteristics on offer. The suspension keeps the vehicle level when cornering and quickly respond to change in direction. Steering is quick and features a nice weight when turning. Ride quality is slightly rough with a fair number of bumps coming inside. Some of this can be attributed to the 18-inch wheels fitted on my tester.  Should you consider a 2018 Mazda3 when the bright and shiny 2019 3 is available now? I can only give a half-answer as I haven’t driven the 2019 model yet. But having sat in one, I can see why someone would consider it. The impressive design inside and out can make you believe you’re driving something from a luxury brand. The 2018 model still has some things going for it such as having slightly more interior space, similar fuel economy figures, and dealers beginning to lower prices on them to get them out. As I am writing this (May 5th), I have seen dealers in my local drop prices by $1,000 to $3,000 on 2018 models. Right now, I would be willing to pocket the extra cash and go with a 2018 Mazda3. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 3, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Mazda
      Model: 3
      Trim: Grand Touring
      Engine: 2.5L SKYACTIV-G DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline:  Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700
      Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/35/30
      Curb Weight: 3,098 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Salamanca, Mexico
      Base Price: $24,945
      As Tested Price: $28,035 (Includes $890.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Equipment Package - $1,600.00
      Soul Red Metallic Paint - $300.00
      Scuff Plates/Door Sill Trim Plate - $125.00
      Rear Bumper Guard - $100.00
      Cargo Mat - $75.00
    • By Drew Dowdell
      KIA MOTORS AMERICA ANNOUNCES APRIL SALES Year-to-Date Sales Up 5.9-Percent
      IRVINE, Calif., May 1, 2019 – Kia Motors America today announced April sales of 51,385 vehicles. Sales were led by Soul which posted an 18-percent increase over the same period last year. Telluride sales remained strong with 5,570 units sold during the model’s second full month of availability.

      “Telluride is Kia’s fastest turning vehicle in America right now and its popularity is driving new customers into Kia showrooms on a daily basis,” said Bill Peffer, vice president, sales operations, Kia Motors America.  “When you add the new 2020 Soul launch campaign which is airing now and Kia’s Summer Sales Program which is set to kick off, we’re confident Kia’s momentum will continue to grow as we move swiftly into the summer sales season.”
       
      About Kia Motors America
      Headquartered in Irvine, California, Kia Motors America continues to top quality surveys and is recognized as one of the 100 Best Global Brands and 50 Best Global Green Brands by Interbrand.  Kia serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and offers a complete range of vehicles sold through a network of nearly 800 dealers in the U.S., including cars and SUVs proudly assembled in West Point, Georgia.*
      For media information, including photography, visit www.kiamedia.com.  To receive custom email notifications for press releases the moment they are published, subscribe at www.kiamedia.com/us/en/newsalert.
        *The Telluride, Sorento and Optima (excluding Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid) are assembled in the United States from U.S. and globally sourced parts.

         
        MONTH OF APRIL
      YEAR-TO-DATE
      Model
      2019
      2018
      2019
      2018
      Rio
      2,082
      1,964
      7,926
      6,989
      Forte
      7,336
      9,199
      28,710
      32,930
      Optima
      8,411
      8,276
      31,079
      27,886
      Cadenza
      117
      510
      528
      2,689
      Stinger
      939
      1,378
      4,166
      5,298
      K900
      43
      40
      145
      131
      Soul
      10,431
      8,825
      35,984
      30,243
      Niro
      1,839
      2,340
      7,185
      8,675
      Sportage
      6,077
      7,653
      25,275
      27,112
      Sorento
      7,473
      8,915
      31,092
      30,301
      Telluride
      5,570
      N/A
      10,965
      N/A
      Sedona
      1,067
      1,485
      4,926
      5,276
      Total
      51,385
      50,585
      187,981
      177,530
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