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The Kia Stinger Finds a Sweet Spot Between Family Hauler and Race Car

Courtesy of Kia

The company that brought you the abysmal Spectra comes out with a sport sedan? In 2018 Kia took the automotive world by storm revealing a high horsepower sport sedan. With a twin-turbo V6 on most trims and 365 horsepower on 75% of them, the Stinger is a dark horse in the ultra competitive performance world. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Stinger gets above average fuel economy and has a lighter side suitable for daily driving. The Stinger truly is the duality of car, switching from its evil, speedhunter side to a more restrained commuter car at the touch of a button. Coming in both RWD and AWD, both are suitable for plenty of fun no matter what type of person you are. No brand has upped their ante as much as Kia these past couple of years, truly going through a full metamorphosis as a brand. From pumping out cheap economy cars to quality, good looking cars— the Stinger is a physical representation of that transformation.

Sting Like a Bee

Far removed from the days of the cheap engines that catch on fire, the Stinger abandons the notorious 2.4 L Theta II powerplant. Now offering a 2.5 L turbo I-4 on the GT-Line trim and a 3.3 L twin turbo V6 on the trims there on forward, the Stinger really pushed Kia’s limits at the time. Up until that point, their most luxurious car was the K900, a Mercedes rival. Slow, yet luxurious, Kia aimed to bring the performance aspect to the Korean market. So the Stinger got 300 to 365 horsepower. To give it a rocket launch off the line, they gave it 376 lb-ft of torque. They gave it sport modes, tighter steering, a lowered suspension, and an 8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission that is quick to downshift and give you a gear boost exactly when desired. Around twisty roads and sharp turns the body roll gets a bit excessive— not BMW M level yet, but will still give it a run for its money.

Take it to a Friday Night Drag Race however, and you’ll discover its true potential. Straight out speed. The AWD version will get the 60 done in 4.4 seconds. A staggering time for a midsize sedan, especially one from South Korea. Each GT sits on Pirelli summer tires which are super sticky and can hold you in place on even the most worst turns, 4-wheel Brembo dual-piston calipers which can harness all the car’s weight and bring it to a screeching halt, as well as a plethora of drivers assistance features. The Stinger doesn’t play around when it comes to its drive modes either, coming out with 4 distinct drive modes that you can actually feel. Driving it feels like a blast at the price point, when you know you didn’t overpay for luxury (cough cough, Audi), you feel a lot better about driving it around. From a pretty reliable brand, you feel comfortable thrashing it around. Throttle control/response has to be one of the best I’ve seen, coming from someone who owned a Kia, and it wasn’t too great to be honest. The Stinger outperforms many other vehicles at this pricepoint, making it a beautiful performance option.

Float Like a Butterfly

The Stinger has exterior styling straight out of something from a US Army Base. Fighter jet and aggressive styling make a daring statement right from the getgo. A rear light bar and LED light lamps make the sinister look complete. On the interior, leather everything make it a great value for the price point. The only thing that knocks it down are some plastic trim pieces, but at this price, no one is really complaining. Paired with Kia’s great bumper to bumper warranty, I’m not seeing why anyone would mark this off their list. A huge 10.3″ optional touch screen finishes off the interior and truly makes this a luxury car. To top it all off, Kia’s suite of driver assistance features make it a true daily driver.

The Verdict

The Stinger represents the best of both worlds, and the ultimate glow up of Kia’s branding. Left for dead, Kia has risen up from the ashes and they have hit the bullseye with the Stinger. With a practical hatchback and 23.3 cubic feet of cargo space, the Stinger can really do it all. To put the cherry on top, it’ll get a 18/27 city and highway fuel economy.

OVERALL: 10/10

EXTERIOR: 9/10

INTERIOR: 8/10

PERFORMANCE: 9/10

VALUE: 10/10

EFFICIENCY: 7/10


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