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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


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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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Fuel economy is a bit disappointing. 

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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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Both choices I can thoroughly applaud.

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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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