2018 Kia Stinger Review


Kia’s Stinger is aggressive – it stings like a bee and floats like a Cadillac

Kia’s Stinger is a Gran Turismo that is fast, suave, and pretty luxurious for two couples and their luggage for a weekend getaway or a long spirited drive to the countryside. The all-new Stinger is by far Kia’s most ambitious project and a promised turning point for the South Korean manufacturer, best known for economy cars. It is essentially a sports sedan; a strong performer, fine-looking, and potent in all the same ways as its German contenders including BMW Series 3 and Audi A5 Sportback Prestige, both of which are far more expensive.

As stylish as the latest offerings from Kia have become, they typically haven’t had the performance and handling at par with the competitors in their respective segments. However, the Stinger represents a significant step forward for the car company. With sports back styling and a world of improvement in safety tech, the Stinger is a one-of-a-kind luxury car. Moreover, it performs as well as it looks, which is well above our expectations given its modest price.

Trim Levels

For its debut year, the Stinger is introduced in five trim levels – base, Premium, GT, GT1, and GT2. The base and Premium models feature a four-cylinder engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger and an output of 255-horsepower. However, every GT edition is powered by a 365-hp twin-turbo V6 engine. Irrespective of the engine you select, the Stinger is equipped with an eight-speed fully automatic transmission.

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Kia Stinger Base

As mentioned above, the base model comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive. The interiors have posh leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a fancy steering wheel wrapped in leather. Some of the other high-end features present in the base model include a UVO infotainment system, six speakers, and Apple CarPlay. Moreover, a 7-inch touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, proximity key entry, parking sensors, and a rear-view camera are also included in the Stinger.

Kia Stinger Premium

Some of the highlights of Stinger Premium include a moonroof, an 8-inch touchscreen, navigation system, and a 15-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system.

Kia Stinger GT

One of the best features of the Stinger GT is its 3.3-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine. The Stinger GT enjoys some top-of-the-line sporty trimmings like aluminum pedals and a flat-bottom steering wheel. The base GT comes with a 7-inch touchscreen and nine speakers. The GT2 system is upgraded in the GT1 to include an 8-inch touchscreen and navigation. A host of comfort and standout features are also added to the GT2 including Nappa leather upholstery, extra power adjustments for the front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, a hands-free power trunk lid, along with an array of high-tech safety features.


The Stinger is slick and fantastic to look at and even better to drive! It’s equipped with a chassis that can throw a stiff competition to any top of the line German sports sedan. The overall design of the vehicle is certainly aggressive, especially with the brand’s distinct ‘tiger nose’ grille in place. Kia’s European design studio in Frankfurt has come up with a futuristic and innovative design for a luxury sedan like the Stinger. Its low stance and muscular body effectively distinguish the automobile from anything else the company has produced. The Stinger’s fastback roofline, rear-drive proportions, and a long wheelbase lends it an air of elegance and sophistication. Complex LED headlights to flank the grille, which features a chrome-studded design similar to a Mercedes-Benz. All in all, the Stinger’s unique fastback design and great attention to detail makes it stand out among the relatively anonymous sedans within the same price range.


The five-seater Stinger boasts of a roomy and opulent cabin. There’s plenty of room in the front and rear seats for four adults although anyone in the center position in the back is likely to feel cramped. But there’s more legroom than a Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Alfa Romeo Giulia. Standard leather upholstery and heated front seats add to the car’s comfort quotient. While the more expensive rivals such as BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class come with standard leather seats, Kia includes genuine leather upholstery in every Stinger. The fit and finish throughout the cabin is excellent. A nice addition to the interiors are the exposed speaker grilles and Mercedes-Benz-style eyeball center vents.

Cargo Space

The main advantage of owning a sportback sedan like the Stinger is the large cargo space of 23.3 cubic feet, which far more than the class average. The Stinger is ideal if you’re planning for a short vacay or a road trip so you can carry large or bulky items. You also have the option of folding down the rear seat for up to 40.9 cubic feet of cargo space.


The Stinger comes with two engine variations: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 255 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 with 365 hp and 376 lb-ft. Both engines are paired exclusively with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Smooth, powerful, and with an excellent engine note, this is definitely the powerhouse of this car, and worth the premium you have to pay. Moreover, a choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive in every trim level also boosts the Stinger’s performance chops.

Both the engine variations are turbocharged, providing quick acceleration every time you ask. However, to experience the ultimate KIA performance and the ability to reach 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, we’d advise you to go with the 365-horsepower V6. With its four-cylinder engine, the Stinger offers a mileage of 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. These ratings are a little lower than the typical fuel economy for a luxury small car. Moreover, the estimates might further drop to 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway with the V6. An 8-speed automatic transmission is connected to both engines. A manual would be fun but we’re not complaining about how quickly this automatic shifts, both on its own and when using the steering-wheel-mounted paddles.

The Stinger maintains a good balance between comfort and performance. When accelerated along hilly roads and twisty canyons, it stays glued to the road and absorbs all the imperfections and bumps for a seamless and smooth ride. Steering and braking are also quite responsive and predictable.  


On the safety side, in addition to the airbags and usual array of stability controls, the Kia Stinger is equipped with front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, and a cool brake fade compensation. Safety features like forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, lane departure warning, driver drowsiness warning, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, rain-sensing wipers, and adaptive cruise control are also present in the new Stinger.

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Infotainment & Navigation

The infotainment system – led by Kia’s latest UVO interface – is new-age, simple and very easy to use compared to the complex tech from Lexus and BMW. The infotainment system has straightforward menu options, and the location of buttons allows the driver to access a range of controls without having to take their eyes off the road. Moreover, bonuses like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto add to the Stinger’s user-friendliness. For an extra boost, you can add on the 15-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system.


The 2018 Kia Stinger costs considerably less, almost a few thousand dollars than a typical luxury small car. Models start at $31,900 and can reach as high as $49,200. These figures refer to the rear-wheel-drive editions, but you can add all-wheel drive to any trim for $2,200.

Although the BMW 3 Series is a great choice, it is way more expensive and isn’t quite as good of a value as the Stinger. It has a higher base price by a few thousand dollars, and you’ll have to shell out more to pep things up a little, like leather seats, power-adjustable or heated front seats, satellite radio, or Apple CarPlay. In comparison, all of these come standard in the Stinger.

The Verdict

Right off the bat, Kia got it right. Whether it’s by appearance or the overall performance, the Stinger impressively challenges similar luxury-branded vehicles. Although there are still going to be some traditional Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz shoppers who won’t bother with the Stinger because it lacks the badge and the prestige associated with it. The Stinger isn’t just good for a Kia — it is phenomenal compared to anything in and well above its price.

Should I Buy the Kia Stinger?

You should opt for the Stinger if you’re looking for a sophisticated but sporty ride that can easily pull daily-driver duty. With some of the performance scores among small luxury cars, the Stinger promises engaging agility with two potent powertrains to choose from. One of the Stinger’s drawbacks is its newness to the segment. Some shoppers might question if Kia has been successful in building an authentic rear-wheel-drive sports sedan that can compete with class heavyweights like the BMW 3 Series. However, many may find it difficult to opt for a car wearing a Kia badge instead of a long time luxury stalwart like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

With a starting price of about $32,000, the Stinger offers the best value in the class. It is priced lower than most of its competitors – and thousands of dollars less than the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class. For your money, you’ll get standard amenities like a well-equipped infotainment system and leather seats, along with one of the longest warranties on the market. Kia’s Stinger stands out for being a well-rounded package at a great price.

If the exquisite experience of a true luxury sports sedan is a no-compromise zone, you have no choice but to spend another 20 grand for a premium mid-sizer. But if you can accept a little step down in overall finish and aura, and if the muscle of the automobile is important, then the Stinger delivers speed in a package that looks as if it drove off an auto-show turntable.