Expect the unexpected. At least that’s the takeaway from the 2018 Kia Stinger, a hatchback sport sedan that offers European-inspired performance with the traditional value you’d expect from this Korean auto maker. Micah Muzio takes us through the unique and fun attributes of the Stinger in this Video Review and Road Test.

2018 Kia Stinger Transcript

The Kia stinger is a rear- or all-wheel drive, Nürburgring-tuned sports sedan sculpted from hood to trunk with serious Grand Touring style. Oh wait, the trunk is actually a hatchback. Man, I am unnaturally excited about practicality. I promise we'll talk about how it drives put first practicality. With its hatchback design the Stinger can carry a healthy 23.3 cubic feet of gear. Lower the rear seats to unleash extreme cargo hauling mode, though there is a high lift over to contend with.

Elsewhere the interior is laid out with a classic, sporting simplicity. All the controls are easy to find and use and are surrounded by nice materials that convey a premium aura. Front and center is a 7-inch or optional 8-inch infotainment unit offering standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The system is simply arranged and easy to use but using it would be even easier if it wasn't so far away. Gotta put your hip into it.

Impressively, leather seating comes standard while hand-stitched Nappa leather is an option. Choose the leather-clad seats in back and legroom is fine but for particularly tall folks head room could be tight. Meanwhile the middle seat is, as real estate agents say, cozy. Front occupants fare better all around.

From the driver's seat there are two things I absolutely love. 1: the steering wheel and seat are highly-adjustable so I can fine-tune the perfect driving position and 2: the visual cues of the sloping a pillar and the curving dash reinforce the idea that you're guiding a physical object through space. And as I'm saying that I realize I sound kind of wacky but you're not sitting where I'm sitting, man! Wait, where you going? 

Aim your head over your right shoulder and you'll notice a thick C-pillar that easily justifies the optional blind spot warning system. Where propulsion is concerned, you've got two turbocharged choices, each partnered with a smartly calibrated 8-speed automatic transmission. The base 2-liter provides sub-6-second 0 to 60 runs but the 3.3-liter V6 is smoother, can hit 60 in less than five seconds, and it has the Moxie to match the chassis’ primo handling. Those handling traits occupy a happy zone between stability and agility.

Apply the well-calibrated steering to the right road and lovely things happen. The Stinger is a quick and lively cornering partner. Really, if I have any complaint, it's that the seats could use a little bit more support in the upper shoulder region. Despite its handling chops, ride quality is never abusive. The Stinger handles bumpy, choppy pavement like a proper grand touring car.

For pure driving enjoyment, rear-wheel drive is the way to go but all-wheel drive is available if you demand an all-weather sports sedan. Just so you know, the $2,200 all-wheel drive system sends up to 80 percent of the engine's power rearward and includes a torque vectoring system to retain a lively rear drive feel, while the V6 can be equipped with a limited-slip rear differential. Stay drifting, my friends.

If efficiency is a concern you'll appreciate the Stinger's inoffensive but defeatable automatic engine start/stop system, which saves fuel while the vehicle is motionless. With the vehicle moving the EPA predicts this kind of efficiency, assuming you drive with the restraint of an ice cream salesman.

All Stingers feature a 5-mode drive selector to adjust the steering, throttle response, exhaust note, and transmission behavior as well as the V6's adaptive dampers. For living life to the extreme, Sport Mode is great but it makes the steering a little bit heavy and that's why we have custom mode. Thank you, Kia.

Even in cheapest roughly $33,000 guise, the Kia Stinger includes fancy features like heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, a backup camera, seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag, and passive entry with push-button start. Step up to the V6, dubbed the Stinger GT, and the base price increases to around $39,000. That premium buys a notable bump in power. You also get aluminum pedals, variable ratio steering with a flat-bottom steering wheel, adaptive dampers, Brembo brakes, launch control, and a 180-mile-an-hour speedometer. Though to exploit that last feature you'll need a long desolate road, the smarts to disable the 167-mile-per-hour governor, and maybe diplomatic immunity.

Added cost features include ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a 16-way driver seat, navigation, Harman Kardon premium audio, a hands-free trunk, and advanced driver aids like forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, rear cross traffic alert, a head-up display, and dynamic cruise control with stop-and-go abilities.

Defining the Stinger's competitive set is tricky. It's not exactly a luxury car but where looks and performance are concerned the Stinger GT V6 is an intriguing value compared to cars like the Audi S5 Sportback and BMW. If the Kia badge gives you pause then treat the Stinger like a mainstream sports sedan with upscale flair. Viewed thusly, the 4-cylinder Stinger compares favorably to the similarly priced 4-door sports car, the Nissan Maxima.

There are plenty of ways to parse the competition but however you slice it Kia has created something special. To me the Stinger succeeds because it combines the performance and style of a sports sedan with the value of a Kia and the utility of a hatchback. Basically, the Stinger takes automotive fun and justification for that fun and blends them both into an alluring package. And I think it's brilliant.

New Car Spotlight


Free Dealer Price Quote

Get the best price and be more prepared with your free, no-obligation price quote