2018 Kia Stinger

2018 Kia Stinger Review

It's not just good for a Kia; it's good compared to anything at or well above its price.
8.2 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Mark Takahashi
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

As stylish as the latest Kias have become, they typically haven't had the performance and handling to match. That all changes with the all-new Kia Stinger.

The Stinger represents a significant step forward for the South Korean manufacturer. Its aggressive yet graceful design stands out among the relatively anonymous sedans with similar pricing. Even better, the Stinger performs on a level that is well above our expectations for its modest price. It's about the same size as Kia's Optima sedan but is lower, sleeker and more powerful. In the top-spec GT trim, the Stinger boasts 365 horsepower, available all-wheel drive, and a refined and comfortable interior.

Whether it's by numbers or appearance, Kia's Stinger impressively challenges similar luxury-branded vehicles. Yet there are still going to be some traditional Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz shoppers who won't bother with the Stinger because it lacks enough prestige. That's their loss. The Stinger isn't just good for a Kia — it's good compared to anything at or well above its price.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Kia Stinger as one of Edmunds' Best AWD Sedans, and the 2018 Kia Stinger GT as one of the Best Sport Sedans for this year.



What's new for 2018

The 2018 Kia Stinger is an all-new model.

We recommend

The 2018 Kia Stinger is at its best when it has the performance to back up its sporty appearance. As such, we recommend the more potent GT with its V6 engine. Stick with the classic rear-wheel-drive powertrain unless you live in a region with frequent bad weather. The standard Stinger GT has enough additional features to skip the GT1 and GT2 upgrades. We like that all of the advanced safety features are available throughout the lineup.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Kia Stinger is a four-door sedan with a fastback-like hatch that is available in five trim levels. The base rear-wheel-drive Stinger is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (255 horsepower, 260 pound-feet of torque) and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available on all models as an option.

Standard features for the base Stinger include 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, LED running lights, heated and power-folding mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, selectable drive modes, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, 60/40-split folding rear seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, a 7-inch touchscreen, three USB ports, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay-Android Auto, and a six-speaker audio system with satellite radio. All-wheel-drive models also include a heated steering wheel.

The Premium trim adds LED headlights, a sunroof, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a larger driver information display, a universal garage door opener, driver memory functions, an 8-inch touchscreen and a 15-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

The Kia Stinger GT employs a turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 (365 hp, 376 lb-ft). Feature content is similar to the base Stinger but upgrades to 19-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, adaptive suspension dampers, a launch control system, variable steering ratios, a few exterior embellishments, aluminum pedals and scuff plates, a flat-bottom steering wheel and a nine-speaker audio system.

The GT1 trim adds the Premium features along with auto-dimming exterior mirrors and additional performance meters. At the top of the lineup is the GT2 trim that finishes it off with a limited-slip differential, a hands-free trunklid, a head-up display, premium leather upholstery, and upgraded front seats with ventilation. Automatic wipers are also available as an option for all Stingers.

The GT2 also comes with these advanced safety features that are optional on supporting trims: adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and intervention, a driver attention monitor, automatic high-beams, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our First Drive of the 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 Sedan (turbo 3.3L V6 | 8-speed automatic | AWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall8.2 / 10

Driving

8.5 / 10

Acceleration8.5 / 10
Braking8.5 / 10
Steering8.5 / 10
Handling8.0 / 10
Drivability8.0 / 10

Comfort

8.0 / 10

Seat comfort7.0 / 10
Ride comfort8.5 / 10
Noise & vibration8.5 / 10
Climate control8.0 / 10

Interior

7.0 / 10

Ease of use8.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.0 / 10
Driving position9.5 / 10
Roominess7.0 / 10
Visibility6.5 / 10
Quality8.5 / 10

Utility

8.5 / 10

Small-item storage8.5 / 10
Cargo space8.5 / 10

Technology

8.5 / 10

Audio & navigation8.5 / 10
Smartphone integration8.0 / 10
Driver aids8.5 / 10
Voice control7.5 / 10

Driving8.5

The Stinger GT has performance chops to back up its striking looks. Acceleration is strong at any speed, and the engine is well-behaved when you aren't hammering the pedal. Handling and steering are great at this price point. Paddle shifters won't keep the transmission in manual mode indefinitely.

Acceleration8.5

The Stinger GT doesn't launch very hard from a full stop, but nail the accelerator at speed and you'll be impressed by the thrust from the twin-turbo V6. Even with a car full of people, it's quick. We posted a 0-60 mph time of 5.0 seconds, slightly slower than performance-minded luxury sport sedans.

Braking8.5

The brakes activate high in the pedal stroke, but braking force is gradual and isn't grabby, which makes them easy to modulate in traffic. In performance driving, you'll have to hit the pedal harder than you think to slow the Stinger quickly, but the sticky summer tires perform exceptionally well.

Steering8.5

The steering effort is moderate, in contrast with the too-light feeling in other Kias, and does not increase appreciably in the Sport mode. The Stinger responds the moment you start moving the wheel, but it never feels darty, which is welcome and appropriate for a sporty sedan.

Handling8.0

This big hatch exhibits some body roll, even when the dampers are in their Sport setting. Still, the Stinger GT handles well and is pretty fun to hustle around corners, especially when you reduce the amount of stability control intervention.

Drivability8.0

The engine exhibits predictable acceleration in the standard Comfort driving mode. Eco mode dulls acceleration with light to moderate pedal application, while Sport makes the Stinger feel a bit more energetic. Sport also introduces harsher shifts to the otherwise smooth-shifting transmission.

Comfort8.0

The sport seats keep you in place and have many adjustments but aren't comfortable for everyone. The ride is amicable, even in Sport mode, and exterior noise is filtered out. Heated front seats are standard (as is a heated steering wheel on AWD models), but heated rear seats aren't available at all.

Seat comfort7.0

The front seats are supportive and offer multiple adjustments, including the side bolsters, but the padding might feel overly firm for some. The seat bottom is also on the narrow side, which will have most pressing against the thigh bolsters. Rear seats are also stiff and the bench is pretty flat.

Ride comfort8.5

The Stinger's ride is indeed pleasant in the standard Comfort driving mode, thanks to adaptive dampers (standard on all GT models) that smooth out road imperfections. Road undulations are the car's only weak point, causing some floatiness. The ride is firmer, but still livable, in Sport mode.

Noise & vibration8.5

The thrum of the engine is always present, but you won't notice it much during light-throttle conditions. Dig into the pedal or put it into Sport mode and augmented engine noise filters into the cabin. It sounds good but not addictive. Road noise is mostly quiet; wind noise is nearly nonexistent.

Climate control8.0

Dual-zone climate control is in the front, with a separate temp dial for the rear vents. Normally, the climate system keeps the cabin appropriately warm/cool, though the engine stop-start system significantly reduces fan speed when the engine is off, which could make the cabin momentarily unpleasant.

Interior7.0

The Stinger isn't a small car, but it feels tight inside. Rear passengers have the toughest time, with a low roof and limited toe room. Rear visibility is not as good as in other midsize sedans. The driver has it the best, with an excellent seating position and ergonomic control layout.

Ease of use8.0

The driver's armrests are just the right height so you can rest your elbows while holding the wheel at 3 and 9 o'clock. Buttons are clearly labeled and easy to understand. The touchscreen is a bit of a reach, almost as if Kia planned to use a dial controller and changed its mind at the last minute.

Getting in/getting out7.0

The deep-set pedal and wide door sill can make for an awkward exit for tall drivers or those with limited flexibility. The rear sloping roofline means most passengers will have to duck to get into the back. The doors are light and easy to open.

Driving position9.5

The seats in the GT2 trim are more configurable than those in other trims, with adjustable side bolsters and thigh extension. A wide range of vertical and horizontal range ensures that drivers of all sizes can find an agreeable position. The steering wheel has lots of tilt-and-telescoping range.

Roominess7.0

There's a good sense of space up front, with plenty of legroom and a wide center armrest. Tall drivers might brush against the headliner, especially since a sunroof comes standard on all but the base Stinger. There's less headroom in the back due to the sloping roofline. Rear legroom is just OK.

Visibility6.5

The narrow front pillars promote decent forward visibility, but the high hood and low-slung seating position can make it difficult to place the front of the car. The upward sloping beltline toward the rear and the large rear pillar compromise the three-quarter view.

Quality8.5

Some buttons are shared with other vehicles in Kia's lineup, but some of this trim is unique. There are faux leather coverings on the doors, and the aluminum-looking trim on the doors and dash looks good. The armrest pads are a little hard, but it's difficult not to be impressed by this Kia.

Utility8.5

There's more space in the Stinger's cargo area than any like-minded sedans, though it's smaller in size than the Buick Regal Sportback and the BMW 3 Series GT. The rear seats don't quite drop flat, but the high pivot point means you won't have to move the front seats forward to fold them.

Small-item storage8.5

There are two decent-size cupholders in front, along with a small tray below the center stack and a shallow, wide bin under the armrest. The door pockets are smaller in back, but the armrest's cupholders are just as accommodating as those in the front. You also get nets behind each front seat.

Cargo space8.5

As a hatchback, the Stinger offers greater cargo flexibility than a comparable sedan. The cargo area is wide and rectangular, with small pockets behind the rear wheels. The GT2 also comes with a hands-free hatch; simply stand behind the bumper for a few seconds. The rear seats don't quite fold flat.

Child safety seat accommodation7.5

Four LATCH anchors are hidden behind covers that fold as you press down on them. The anchors themselves are inset pretty far from the front of the covers. The tethers are located about halfway down the seatback. You'll have to move the cargo cover to reach the tether points.

Technology8.5

The Stinger is brimming with tech, starting with a sharp touchscreen and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. A suite of the latest driving aids is available, and it doesn't cost too much on trims where it isn't standard. Destination input strangely doesn't use predictive text.

Audio & navigation8.5

Most models come with a 15-speaker Harman Kardon audio system that, for the most part, sounds darn good. No trim, window or speaker rattles when turning the bass and volume all the way up. Good volume output with radio and most connected media, though Spotify was surprisingly restrained.

Smartphone integration8.0

There are two USB ports below the center stack: one for data and one charge-only. There's another charge-only port behind the console for rear passengers. The system should be able to play audio files from a USB drive, but it didn't work on our tester. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.

Driver aids8.5

A rearview camera and front/rear parking sensors are standard. All additional driving aids (blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, etc.) are included in the comprehensive and reasonably priced Kia Drive Wise package. It can be ordered on any trim except the GT2, where it's standard.

Voice control7.5

Although the system prompts you to use a set menu of voice commands, it also has limited natural speech detection. It can navigate to general locations (the nearest coffee shop or Starbucks, for example) but doesn't understand specific POIs (e.g., Disneyland).

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.