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  • 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
      What a difference that four years make. That's the timeframe from the first Kia electric I reviewed (Soul EV) to the model seen here, the 2019 Niro EV. So much has changed in terms of battery technology and overall range that I could see myself having an electric vehicle as a primary mode of transport. There are some still some issues that make me think twice, but they are getting smaller.
      Kia avoided the trend of going crazy with the Niro EV’s design. Little touches such as blue accent trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, and closed-front grille hiding the charging port help the EV stand apart from other Niro models. Changes inside are even smaller with a new center console featuring a dial control for the drive selector. This move is very smart as many buyers really don’t want their vehicle to shout “LOOK AT ME” when driving. The electric powertrain in the Niro EV packs quite the punch - 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. This is up 62 and 92 respectively from the Niro Hybrid I drove a few years back. Providing the electricity is a 64 kWh Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery that provides an estimated range of 239 miles. Kia says the Niro EV will hit 60 mph in under eight seconds. But I found it to be slightly quicker thanks to all of the torque being available instantly. Merging onto a freeway is where the electric powertrain does lose steam - blame a hefty curb weight of 3,854 pounds. I saw a maximum range of 208 to 210 miles throughout my week. This was due to cold temperatures ranging from low 30s to high 40s. But I was able to do a forty-mile round-trip commute for most of the week without having any range anxiety issues. Charging anxiety is a different story. If you have been reading my electric and plug-in hybrid reviews, then you’ll know that I only have access to 120V charging at home. Plugging the Niro EV after my day job meant waiting over sixteen hours for a full charge. This caused me to not want to venture out far unless I had some important errands to run as it would mean a longer time for a recharge. If I had completely depleted the battery, I would be waiting over two days for the battery to recharge. If you have a 240V charger, that time drops to 9.5 hours for a full-recharge. Finding a quick charger has gotten easier in the past year or two, but it is still a hit and miss affair. There are no quick chargers near where I live (unless I have a Tesla). It's slightly better further south where I work as there some around the area. But that introduces its own set of problems such setting aside the time to charge up the vehicle to finding if one works. I should note that I didn’t get the chance to try quick charging with the Niro EV during my week.  Handling is slightly better in the Niro EV thanks to the additional weight of the battery pack which reduces body roll. Steering is very light when turning, but will surprise you with how quick and accurate it deals with changes in direction. Ride quality is a little bit firm with some bumps and imperfections making their way inside. Where the Niro EV shines is noise isolation. During my work commute, I was surprised by how little wind and road noise came inside.  The major downside to the Niro EV is its limited availability. At the time of this writing, Kia is only selling the Niro EV is twelve states - most of them having Zero Emission Vehicle (or ZEV) programs that require automakers to sell a certain amount of electric vehicles in their lineups. Nothing is stopping you from purchasing a Niro EV in one of the states that it is available, but I’m wondering how many people will do that. Pricing for the Niro EV begins at $38,500 for the base EX model. I had the EX Premium at $44,000 which adds such goodies as an eight-inch touchscreen, premium audio system, heated and ventilated front seats; sunroof. Add in a $1,000 Launch Edition package (LED headlights, front parking sensors, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror), and my as-tested price came to $45,995. Expensive bit of kit, but the Niro EV does come with a long list of standard features including heated outside mirrors with power folding; seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and push-button start. Plus, the Niro EV qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit which may sway some buyers when it comes time to do their taxes. The Kia Niro EV is the first electric vehicle that I could see myself living with. It drives for the most part as a normal vehicle and offers enough range for most people. The big item you need to be aware of is charging. If you decide to purchase, be sure to get a 240V charger and check to see if there are any sort of fast chargers in your area. It may mean the difference between worry-free and a large amount of anxiety. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Niro EV, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2019
      Make: Kia
      Model: Niro EV
      Trim: EX Premium
      Engine: 356V Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Lithium Ion Polymer Battery Pack
      Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 3,800 - 8,000
      Torque @ RPM: 291 @ 0 - 3,600
      Estimated Range: 239 Miles
      Curb Weight: 3,854 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: 
      Base Price: $44,000
      As Tested Price: $46,045 (Includes $1,045.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Launch Edition - $1,000.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      What a difference that four years make. That's the timeframe from the first Kia electric I reviewed (Soul EV) to the model seen here, the 2019 Niro EV. So much has changed in terms of battery technology and overall range that I could see myself having an electric vehicle as a primary mode of transport. There are some still some issues that make me think twice, but they are getting smaller.
      Kia avoided the trend of going crazy with the Niro EV’s design. Little touches such as blue accent trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, and closed-front grille hiding the charging port help the EV stand apart from other Niro models. Changes inside are even smaller with a new center console featuring a dial control for the drive selector. This move is very smart as many buyers really don’t want their vehicle to shout “LOOK AT ME” when driving. The electric powertrain in the Niro EV packs quite the punch - 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. This is up 62 and 92 respectively from the Niro Hybrid I drove a few years back. Providing the electricity is a 64 kWh Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery that provides an estimated range of 239 miles. Kia says the Niro EV will hit 60 mph in under eight seconds. But I found it to be slightly quicker thanks to all of the torque being available instantly. Merging onto a freeway is where the electric powertrain does lose steam - blame a hefty curb weight of 3,854 pounds. I saw a maximum range of 208 to 210 miles throughout my week. This was due to cold temperatures ranging from low 30s to high 40s. But I was able to do a forty-mile round-trip commute for most of the week without having any range anxiety issues. Charging anxiety is a different story. If you have been reading my electric and plug-in hybrid reviews, then you’ll know that I only have access to 120V charging at home. Plugging the Niro EV after my day job meant waiting over sixteen hours for a full charge. This caused me to not want to venture out far unless I had some important errands to run as it would mean a longer time for a recharge. If I had completely depleted the battery, I would be waiting over two days for the battery to recharge. If you have a 240V charger, that time drops to 9.5 hours for a full-recharge. Finding a quick charger has gotten easier in the past year or two, but it is still a hit and miss affair. There are no quick chargers near where I live (unless I have a Tesla). It's slightly better further south where I work as there some around the area. But that introduces its own set of problems such setting aside the time to charge up the vehicle to finding if one works. I should note that I didn’t get the chance to try quick charging with the Niro EV during my week.  Handling is slightly better in the Niro EV thanks to the additional weight of the battery pack which reduces body roll. Steering is very light when turning, but will surprise you with how quick and accurate it deals with changes in direction. Ride quality is a little bit firm with some bumps and imperfections making their way inside. Where the Niro EV shines is noise isolation. During my work commute, I was surprised by how little wind and road noise came inside.  The major downside to the Niro EV is its limited availability. At the time of this writing, Kia is only selling the Niro EV is twelve states - most of them having Zero Emission Vehicle (or ZEV) programs that require automakers to sell a certain amount of electric vehicles in their lineups. Nothing is stopping you from purchasing a Niro EV in one of the states that it is available, but I’m wondering how many people will do that. Pricing for the Niro EV begins at $38,500 for the base EX model. I had the EX Premium at $44,000 which adds such goodies as an eight-inch touchscreen, premium audio system, heated and ventilated front seats; sunroof. Add in a $1,000 Launch Edition package (LED headlights, front parking sensors, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror), and my as-tested price came to $45,995. Expensive bit of kit, but the Niro EV does come with a long list of standard features including heated outside mirrors with power folding; seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and push-button start. Plus, the Niro EV qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit which may sway some buyers when it comes time to do their taxes. The Kia Niro EV is the first electric vehicle that I could see myself living with. It drives for the most part as a normal vehicle and offers enough range for most people. The big item you need to be aware of is charging. If you decide to purchase, be sure to get a 240V charger and check to see if there are any sort of fast chargers in your area. It may mean the difference between worry-free and a large amount of anxiety. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Niro EV, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2019
      Make: Kia
      Model: Niro EV
      Trim: EX Premium
      Engine: 356V Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Lithium Ion Polymer Battery Pack
      Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 3,800 - 8,000
      Torque @ RPM: 291 @ 0 - 3,600
      Estimated Range: 239 Miles
      Curb Weight: 3,854 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: 
      Base Price: $44,000
      As Tested Price: $46,045 (Includes $1,045.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Launch Edition - $1,000.00
    • By William Maley
      I’ll admit that I have an unabashed love for the Mazda MX-5 Miata. This plucky roadster proves you don’t need gobs of power to provide a big grin when driving. A combination of well-sorted chassis, steering, and slick gearbox does the trick. But Mazda has decided to add a bit more power for the 2019 model, along with including a more powerful four-cylinder and a hardtop option. I’m curious to see if these changes can make the Miata better or worse.
      The model seen here is the RF - short for retractable fastback. Press the switch and the roof panels begin an origami folding exercise into the trunk. The result is a targa that provides the open-air feeling, minus a large amount of wind noise. It doesn’t hurt that roof pillars are styled in such a way that gives off a rakish look, no matter whether the top is up or down. Under the hood lies a revised 2.0L Skyactiv four-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque - up 26 and 3 respectively. A six-speed manual is standard, while an automatic is optional. The small bump makes for a huge improvement in overall acceleration. Just leaving a stop, I was surprised how much pull the engine had as it got to 45 about a half-second quicker than the last Miata.   A key change is Mazda bumping the redline to 7,500 rpm, which allows the engine to fully flex its muscle. This became apparent when I needed to pass a vehicle and found that I didn’t need to drop down a gear to get the power needed.  The six-speed manual is still a joy to work with short and precise throws and a direct feeling clutch pedal. Even when stuck in traffic, doing the motions didn’t feel like a hassle. Average fuel economy for the week landed around 32 mpg, even though I was winding the engine out and playing through the gears just because it is so much fun. My tester was the Club model that adds a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, and a front shock tower brace. This firms up the suspension and provides improve handling on the limit. But out on the backroads, I couldn’t tell there was any real difference in handling between this and the 2016 MX-5 Grand Touring I drove a few years back. Maybe there was slightly less body roll in the RF, but both vehicles had similar characteristics when going into a turn. If I drove both of them on a track, then I think the differences would become more apparent. There is a downside to the Club’s suspension, a very harsh ride. Just making a quick trip to the store was a bit much as the suspension would transmit every little bump and imperfection to the backside of those sitting inside. Another item fitted to my tester was a set of Recaro bucket seats. They come as part of an option package that also adds Brembo Brakes and some cool-looking BBS wheels finished in black. The seats have increased bolstering to hold you in during an enthusiastic drive. But the lack of padding makes them uncomfortable for longer trips. On paper, the RF is an expensive proposition when put against the soft-top: $32,345 vs. $25,730. That massive difference is due to Mazda not offering the base Sport model on the RF. But put the soft-top Club against the RF and the difference shrinks to just over $2,000. Be forewarned that the RF can get expensive. That package I mentioned earlier with the Recaro seats? That will set you back $4,670, bringing the as-tested price to just over $38,000. Mazda’s improvements for the 2019 MX-5 Miata for the most part help, allowing it to become more fun to drive and somewhat easier to live with. That said, the additional cost of the hardtop will depend on whether or not you think it is worth the benefits of possibly being an all-seasons car. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the MX-5 Miata RF, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2019
      Make: Mazda
      Model: MX-5 Miata RF
      Trim: Club
      Engine: 2.0L SkyActiv-G DOHC 16-Valve with VVT Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 181 @ 7,000
      Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/34/29
      Curb Weight: 2,453 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $32,345
      As Tested Price: $38,335 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Brembo with Black Roof - $4,670.00
      Interior Package for M/T - $425.00

      View full article
  • Posts

    • Mercedes does offer way more variety in body styles...Cadillac has no coupes or convertibles, no wagons. 
    • You said they don't compare, which they definitely do. Both are long standing luxury marques, both build sedans and coupes with standard and performance versions and SUV's/CUV's although nothing Mercedes builds can touch the Escalade and probably never will. Lets check the Recall list for both as well. So tell me what edge you think Mercedes has on Cadillac, I'm intrigued.
    • Handling. The Alpha chassis is one of the best out there for it.  That's not a new thing either.  The first gen CTS-V would beat an M3 around a track even though it was M5 sized. 
    • Have you driven a newer Cadillac? I have owned a 2013 CTS Coupe that I bought in 2015 and it was a great car that was quick and handled very well and definitely compared to a Mercedes at the time. 2008 was a huge jump in quality and performance for Cadillac with the second gen. CTS then CTS-V in 2009 and 2014 and newer Cadillac's are on par or better in some ways than Mercedes. Mercedes is another manf. resting on their laurels, the quality and reliability has taken a big hit. I have a neighbor who is a mechanic for a local MB dealer and he says they are buried back in the shop with recalls and other repairs. MB QC dept. is scrambling at the moment. Now to compare a Lincoln to a Mercedes? Yes, you're right Mercedes whoops them.
    • In what ways does Cadillac have an edge on Mercedes? I'm counting all of zero, outside of the consumer truck market. 
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