Little Touches Make Living with the Stinger GT Effortless

by Michael Harley on October 15, 2018

Current Odometer: 16,527 miles
Latest MPG: 20.65 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.71 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $86.92
Time out of Service: 6 days

Kelley Blue Book’s long-term Stinger gets washed once a week, which is more frequently than most privately-owned vehicles. In addition to the exterior wash, a routine that includes pressure-washing the wheels and using a foam cannon to coat the red paint in soft suds, we wipe down and vacuum the interior. While this generally leaves the Kia looking showroom ready, we’ve gotten into the habit of doing some deeper cleaning every few months. Part of that process includes vacuuming out the cup holders and other storage compartments within the cabin. Thankfully, Kia puts small rubber liners in each, which are easy to pull out and wash (we dump them into the sink with warm water and dish detergent). When dropped back into place, they look brand new. While Kia is certainly not the only automaker to use the rubber liners, out experience is that some automakers make them impossibly hard to remove, or they don’t use them at all – and that’s maddening. 

 

Kia Stinger GT Rear Seats are Comfortable and Roomy

by Michael Harley on October 4, 2018

Current Odometer: 16,173 miles
Latest MPG: 20.82 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.74 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $86.92
Time out of Service: 6 days

I spend most of my time roosted in the incredibly comfortable driver’s seat of the Kia Stinger GT, but occasionally I do find myself sitting in the second row. That said, it’s worthy of a closer look. Unconventionally, but more commonplace today than ever before, the Stinger is a five-door sedan – it is configured with four traditional doors and a rear liftback. While this often means rear headroom is compromised (designers slope the rear deck so low that the roofline is shallow), this isn’t the case with the Kia. Rear headroom is just fine, even for people up to six-foot three-inches tall. I’m six-foot two-inches tall, and with the driver’s seat slid back to my comfortable “cruising” setting, I can sit “behind myself” with an inch or two of kneeroom to spare. And, there’s even toe room under the front seats. Rear passengers are also offered amenities that include a 12-volt power outlet, a single USB port, and a pair of HVAC vents that may be adjusted for heated or cooled air. Many automakers still consider the rear seating positions “second class,” with limited comfort and conveniences. However, Kia has ensured that Stinger’s second row is a splendid place to watch the miles pass by. 

 

Five Blinks is Better than Three

by Michael Harley on August 30, 2018

Current Odometer: 15,073 miles
Latest MPG: 23.47 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 22.04 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $86.92
Time out of Service: 6 days

Most automakers have adopted the “one touch three blinks” turn signal, which is a trend started by the Europeans years ago. To activate, the operator simply taps up or down on the turn signal stalk and the blinkers will flash three times. While I consider this an effective tool, Kia has raised the bar by allowing the Stinger operator to customize the blinker action even further. There are four settings (off, three flashes, five flashes, and seven flashes) all configured in the primary instrument cluster. I’ve tried all of them and concluded that five flashes – about five seconds of blinker action – is the best setting for use in Southern California. This configuration allows me to wait for a couple of “warning” flashes before I begin my lane change. Brilliant move, Kia. 

 

Is the Stinger Fitted with the World’s Best All-Around Performance Tire?

by Michael Harley on August 21, 2018

Current Odometer: 14,360 miles
Latest MPG: 21.74 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.77 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $86.92
Time out of Service: 6 days

Straight from the factory, Kia fitted our GT2 with Michelin’s excellent Pilot Sport 4S tires. The high-performance summer compound complements the Stinger’s engineering dynamics beautifully – quick steering turn-in, tenacious grip in the corners, and short stopping distances. While I’ve never driven the Stinger in the rain (it literally won’t rain in the LA Basin for another couple months), my experience with this type of tire says they are equally as competent when the weather goes south – if the temperatures are above the mid-60s. I applaud Kia’s choice.

That said, I am concerned that owners will balk at the cost of replacing the tires. A quick glance at Tire Rack puts a new set of the OE-spec Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires about $1,250 installed – that’s not cheap, even for sports car drivers. I am hoping that owners don’t choose to save some money, compromising performance, and go elsewhere (a set of Firestones, Generals, and Falken tires are about $600). If you want to keep your Stinger running as well as Albert Biermann and the rest of his engineering team planned, my suggestion is to stick with the Michelin rubber.  

 

Power Steering Repair: Back in Commission

by Michael Harley on August 8, 2018

Current Odometer: 13,487 miles
Latest MPG: 21.63 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.75 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $86.92
Time out of Service: 6 days

Kia dove into our Stinger GT with curiosity, as this isn’t an issue frequently plaguing the model (I did a search on the forums and I couldn’t find another reporting the problem). After several days out of service, the hatchback was returned with a brand-new steering rack, a front-end alignment, resurfaced front rotors, and a fresh synthetic oil change – seems that Kia did quite a bit on its own, as we didn’t ask for any of that (and all of it was covered under warranty). Of course, now it drives as well as it did on our first day – the steering feels perfect. The whole team is looking forward to getting behind her wheel again – she was genuinely missed. 

 

Power Steering Failure: Out of Commission

by Michael Harley on July 16, 2018

Current Odometer: 13,682 miles
Latest MPG:  22.19 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.75 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $86.92
Time out of Service: 3 days

I loaded my family into the Stinger GT, intending to head to a picnic, about three hours ago. Upon depressing the start button, the Kia ran through its standard checks… and a red light illuminated on the dashboard – a steering wheel. While the engine was running, it was nearly impossible to move the steering wheel in any direction. Basic reasoning says the electrically assisted power steering failed. I opened the hood, looking for any tell-tale signs of a cause (rodents, leaking fluids, etc.), but nothing appeared out of the ordinary. Deciding to try one more thing, I parked and locked the vehicle for an hour and then restarted it again. As before, the same red light illuminated and it was impossible to move the steering wheel. I called Kia, who took the vehicle in for service. 

 

Apple CarPlay and Drive Mode Interference?

by Michael Harley on July 12, 2018

Current Odometer: 13,487 miles
Latest MPG: 21.63 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.75 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $86.92
Time out of Service: 3 days

As noted during an update in May, moving the Drive Mode selector while using Apple CarPlay causes a glitch -- best described as an electrical “pop” in the speakers and static on the phone. It doesn’t happen all the time, thankfully. Yet unfortunately, when it does occur the only remedy is to pull over, shut off the engine, and re-boot the infotainment system -- several times I’ve had to leave the highway and go through the full procedure, which is maddening. And don’t think that this is only happening to my iPhone 7 Plus as Lyn Woodward, our video host extraordinaire, has experienced the identical thing. We will have the dealer take a closer look during our next service.

 

“Wow, I really like your car,” says Everyone

by Michael Harley on June 22, 2018

Current Odometer: 11,743 miles
Latest MPG: 24.98 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.76 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $86.92
Time out of Service: 3 days

One continuing theme, as I daily drive the Kia Stinger GT, is how many people take notice of it. Every single time I hand the keys to a valet, I receive a prompt, “Hey, is this the new Stinger?” or “I like your car, sir.” I’ve been questioned at the airport, yelled at across intersections, and chased through parking lots (“Sorry, I was just trying to get a better look at your car”). And, the red Kia attracts attention at the fuel station too – about every other fill-up I have a brief conversation about the Stinger with a random stranger at another pump. All the attention, and comments, are very positive – I have yet to have anyone tell me that they don’t like the styling (a hat tip to Gregory Guillaume and Peter Schreyer, the Kia team responsible for the five-door’s sleek shape). Most want a closer look. A few ask who makes the car – of course, they are genuinely surprised by the answer (“Kia? Really?”). Without question, the Stinger is a real head turner. Even after several months with the sedan, I still peer over my shoulder each time I walk away. It’s a looker.

 

Kia Stinger GT Likes/Dislikes

by Michael Harley on June 8, 2018

Current Odometer: 11,286 miles
Latest MPG: 21.26 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.44 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $86.92
Time out of Service: 3 days

I’ve put about 6,000 miles on our Kia Stinger GT2 over the past several months – that’s an impressive amount of seat time:

LIKES

  • Engine – The twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 never fails to disappoint. Gobs of buttery smooth power, low-end torque, and plenty of thrust for passing. It's relatively efficient too, delivering about 30 mpg on the open highway.
  • Driver’s Seat – The operator’s seat, covered in soft Nappa leather and with 16-way, power-operated, controls, is immensely comfortable. Hip-holding bolsters, heating and cooling, and generous lumbar support only add to its appeal (the passenger has a 12-way seat).
  • Roomy Interior – Four passengers will find first class accommodations within the cabin of the Stinger GT, five will find it comfortable in a pinch. Drop the rear seats and open the hatch for crossover-like utility and cargo capacity – luggage, boxes, and even bikes fit with ease. 
     

DISLIKES:

  • Fuel Tank – With a 15.9-gallon capacity (only about 14 gallons are useable), and an average fuel economy of about 18 mpg around town, the driving range of the Stinger GT is limited to about 250 miles around town – most every vehicle delivers 300 miles per tank.
  • Weight – Tipping the scales at just over 4,000 pounds, it’s difficult to dismiss the mass of the Stinger when most of its competitors are a couple hundred pounds lighter. The additional weight is felt as body roll and sloppiness in fast corners.
  • Sport Mode – Of the many drive modes, Sport is an absolute letdown. The suspension remains too soft and the exhaust too quiet – if a driver hits a ‘Sport’ button they expect drastic changes in both, but the Stinger GT doesn’t deliver. 

 

Our First Service, at our Local Kia Dealership

by Michael Harley on May 23, 2018

Current Odometer: 10,037 miles
Latest MPG: 24.68 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.60 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $86.92
Time out of Service: 1 days

The Stinger GT2 alerted me of a necessary service about 300 miles ago, so I placed a call to Kia of Irvine for an appointment. I was warmly greeted when I arrived and the service advisor walked me through the maintenance – a simple oil change. No pressure or upsell, which was nice, but I did choose an upgrade ($35) to 0W-20 Castrol Edge synthetic oil. I asked the dealer to investigate an issue with Apple CarPlay (it occasionally crashes when I choose a different vehicle drive mode) and to inspect the digital shifter (I continue to have issues getting it into drive from reverse) – they couldn’t find any faults, even after keeping the vehicle overnight. After I picked up the vehicle and paid the $82.42 bill, I noted a new white sticker on the inside glass with a reminder about the next oil service at 15,037 – a 5,000-mile interval. That’s 20 percent more aggressive than the owner’s manual, which calls for 6,000-mile oil change intervals (also interesting to note that the sticker called for 5W-30, not the 0W-20 weight that the dealer had just used). This isn’t the first time dealers have asked for more frequent services, as a similar thing happened with the long-term Mazda CX-9.  

 

The Kia Stinger Needs a Bigger Fuel Tank

by Michael Harley on May 16, 2018

Current Odometer: 9,535 miles
Latest MPG: 21.20 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.29 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $4.50
Time out of Service: 0 days

Kia fits the Stinger with a 15.9-gallon fuel tank, which is larger than that on the Audi A5 Sportback (15.3 gallons) and BMW 430i Gran Coupe (15.8 gallons). That sounds acceptable until you realize that its combined EPA rating is only 21 MPG — about 25 percent lower than the 27 MPG combined EPA rating for the Audi and BMW. In real world practice, I’ve noticed that there is only about 12.5 useable gallons of fuel in the Stinger’s tank (the picture shows the tank down 12.22 gallons), meaning that I am averaging only about 225 on each tank before a fill-up. That’s frustratingly low, considering that the industry average is more than 300 miles on a tank. A 20-gallon fuel tank would make the Stinger GT a genuine long-range tourer. 

 

Creaks and Squeaks Eliminated with a new Headliner

by Michael Harley on April 27, 2018

Current Odometer: 8,274 miles
Latest MPG: 21.83 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.52 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $4.50
Time out of Service: 0 days

I had been noting a strange creak (squeak?) from the Stinger’s headliner each time I turned into a driveway or drove over a speedbump. I mentioned this to Kia, who replied that they had never heard of anything similar — they asked to see the vehicle. Upon further inspection, it was determined that our vehicle was “pre-production,” meaning it wasn’t equipped with the same headliner as the vehicles in today’s showrooms. Long story short, Kia kept the vehicle for 16 days and replaced the headliner. This apparently worked, as the vehicle is now as tight as a drum – no creaks or squeaks evident anywhere.

While they were swapping headliners, Kia lent us a standard Stinger GT, with a sticker price nearly $10,000 lower. While we missed many of the creature comforts from our GT2 (cooled seats, upgraded audio, and premium seats), the standard GT is a performance bargain — every bit as enjoyable to drive. 

 

The Derrière Report: A Seat Review From the Backside

by Michael Harley on April 16, 2018

Current Odometer: 7,577 miles
Latest MPG: 21.83 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.52 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $4.50
Time out of Service: 0 minutes

My commute puts me in the driver’s seat for several 90-minute stretches each week — and I’m the guy with a very sensitive vertebra. That said, I’m pleased to report that the Stinger GT2, with the premium Nappa leather and 16-way adjustable driver’s seat, is impressively comfortable. It provides plenty of lumbar support to my lower back with its 4-way air cell system, it grips my hips with its width-adjustable side bolsters, and the lower seat cushion keeps my thighs from sagging. Did I mention that the GT2 is also fitted with active ventilation and heating in the seats? The only disappointment is that the front passenger doesn’t get to enjoy the same seat – they are relegated to a 12-way seat that does without the air lumbar support and the thigh extension – that’s a bit frustrating (and a common occurrence with Korean automakers, who tend to offer the driver a better seat than the front passenger).

 

Fuel Economy Ramblings, and Observations

by Michael Harley on April 6, 2018

Current Odometer: 7,364 miles
Latest MPG: 26.15 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.48 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $4.50
Time out of Service: 0 minutes

I’ve been piling the miles on the Kia Stinger GT, and it continues to impress with its power output — it’s a strong engine mated to an excellent automatic transmission. However, my greatest complaint to date is that its 15.9-gallon fuel tank is too small for its fuel consumption (the EPA rates the 3.3-liter turbo at 19 city/25 highway). Looking at the fuel log, I am only getting about 280 miles out of each tank, which means there is about 12 ‘useable’ gallons before the fuel gauge dips precariously low. The Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 430i Gran Coupe also have 15-gallon fuel tanks, but they are both EPA rated at 24 city/34 mpg highway — using the identical 12 gallons of fuel, they would cruise nearly 400 miles on each tank on the open road. My latest MPG, of 26.15 mpg, was 100 percent highway driving. I literally filled up at the on- and off-ramps to see how well it would do. (Note: I added a half-quart of synthetic oil to the engine, which explains the maintenance cost.)

 

A Turbocharged V6 That Promises, and Delivers

By Michael Harley on March 19, 2018

Current Odometer: 6,397 miles
Latest MPG: 22.12 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 20.33 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $00.00
Time out of Service: 0 minutes

Kia knew that a powerful engine was imperative, so it reached into the corporate parts bin and pulled out a wondrous twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 (which is shared with the Genesis G80). Punch the accelerator and rear wheels fight for traction–powerslides are effortless off the line. The only downside to the thrust is that fuel economy is nothing extraordinary. Despite plenty of highway travel, we find it a challenge to squeak beyond 22 mpg on a tank of fuel. 

 

The Detonator Key

By Michael Harley on March 12, 2018

Current Odometer: 5,751 miles
Latest MPG: 19.80 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 20.52 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $00.00
Time out of Service: 0 minutes

I’ve come to expect that remote key fobs have their button controls on either flat side, but that’s not the case with the Stinger. Kia’s engineers have placed all the buttons (unlock, trunk release, and panic) on the side. The lock button, arguably the most used of all four, sits at the top — just like a detonator switch. While it does take a few days to get used to it, I’ll admit that it allows effortless locking of the Stinger while the keys are still in my pocket as there is no mistaking the location of the button. Well done, Kia. 

 

Introduction

By Michael Harley on March 5, 2018

Kia bravely dove head-first into the highly competitive mid-size sport sedan segment when it announced that an all-new competitor, called the Stinger, would arrive to market for the 2018 model year. With styling loosely based on the well-received Kia GT concept that was shown at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, and a stout rear-wheel drive platform shared with the Genesis G80, the automaker promised BMW-rivaling performance. Theoretically, this is not a stretch considering that Kia stole Albert Biermann, formerly of BMW’s M division, to head its engineering efforts.

While critics questioned Kia’s ability to execute such a grand plan, speculations were silenced by several early invite-only drives of pre-production prototype models at Kia’s development track in Korea, cold-weather testing in the Arctic Circle, and laps on Germany’s demanding Nürburgring to test it. Initial impressions were very favorable.

Stylish five-door hatchback delivers more room

When the new Kia Stinger arrived in showrooms in late 2017, it indisputably opened eyes. A Korean automaker, synonymous with low-priced economy vehicles, had delivered a five-door hatchback with a legitimate performance flair.  Aggressively styled, the design leads with the automaker’s signature "Tiger Nose” front grille and ends with quad tailpipes (on GT trims). Overall, it is impressive work by Kia chief designer Gregory Guillaume. The cabin is spacious, thanks to a long wheelbase (longer than the Audi A5 Sportback, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS, BMW 4 Gran Coupe and Lexus GS), and adult passengers enjoy plenty of room in both rows. Cargo capacity is enhanced with the large rear liftgate and split-fold second row seats.

New powertrains emphasize power

Supporting its performance mission, the Kia Stinger arrives with new engines. Base vehicles are fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder rated at 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, which promises a 0-60 mph sprint in the mid-6 second range. Enthusiasts are targeted with the performance-tuned GT models, which debut with a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 rated at 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque–the 0-60 mph sprint plummets to just 4.7 seconds. A standard 8-speed automatic, and a choice between rear- and all-wheel drive, completes the powertrain matrix.

While a Kia Stinger in standard trim is well equipped with full power accessories, leather upholstery, smart phone integration and 18-inch wheels, the range-topping GT2 is upgraded with Nappa leather, Brembo brakes, high-performance Michelin tires on 19-inch wheels, and an electronically controlled suspension. Other convenience features include Kia’s UVO infotainment system with 8-inch touch-screen, premium Harmon-Kardon audio with 720 watts and 15 speakers, and a head-up display.  Safety technology hasn’t been ignored either, as the Kia Stinger arrives with rear parking cameras, blind spot collision warning, rear cross traffic alert and a forward collision avoidance assistance system with pedestrian detection.

We opt for the enthusiast configuration–because Southern California

Our Irvine headquarters, with year-round mild climate, meant that we could forgo the all-wheel drive option and configure the Kia Stinger to whet our enthusiast tastes. With that our primary objective, we opted for a very specific model: Kia Stinger GT2. That trim, with a base price of $49,200, is literally loaded with all the options (except AWD). To add some zest, we decided on HiChroma Red paint over Black Nappa Leather—it looks simply spectacular. As configured, and with destination included, our as-tested price is $50,100. Not willing to wait several months for our configuration to be built from scratch, we accepted a GT2 with 5,000 miles already on the odometer, accelerated aging at the hands of other journalists. Kia graciously replaced the brakes, wheels, and tires, so they start fresh).

We anticipate the next year will be quite enjoyable as we wring the all-new 2018 Kia Stinger GT out on our favorite challenging roads. Stay tuned.

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