Recently, I had a rare opportunity to drive a McLaren 570S — with options it was a $235,000 car. I mention this only to point out that, so far, only two cars in my life have attracted more attention than the 2018 Kia Stinger: One a McLaren, the other is a 1959 Studebaker Lark. Yes, the Stinger is that popular. It’s really become an expected part of the Stinger ownership experience. While the McLaren gets more thumbs up from school kids, the Stinger gets more than its fair share of parking lot inquiries. Why did that old Studebaker? I have no idea.
Truthfully, I hope these inquiries lead to more Stinger owners. It’s not that I think the Stinger is the perfect car, it’s just that I love the idea of a car like the Stinger being available — and I really like the idea that it’s a Kia.
Unfortunately, I think the novelty is wearing off.
The Secret Is Out
Have you ever liked a TV show, podcast or a band and it seems like only a handful of other people (probably people just like you) really appreciated that same thing? Naturally, that novelty is half the appeal — “No one knows about them,” you say, in feigned surprise. Think CBS This Morning before Gayle King, or Taylor Swift before “Our Song.” Then, as soon as everyone else catches on and starts talking about it, you lose interest because now it’s an “everybody” thing and the secret is out. Next thing you know, Arcade Fire goes from “No Cars Go” to headlining the Greek.
Kia is headed in the same direction.
While it’s true that some trucker hat and chartreuse skinny jean-wearing Manchester Orchestra fans may have abandoned the band after The Gold, the rest of us can be a little irritated, but still admit A Black Mile to the Surface is an excellent album, and the band deserves all the critical and financial success they can handle.
It’s the same with the new 2018 Kia Stinger. As my time with the Stinger wears on, I can see the surprise from the big payoff of “IT’S A KIA!” diminishing on the faces of strangers who approach me in the Publix parking lot.
The good news/bad news here is that people are catching on to the secret that is/was Kia. So, if you’re me, you get less enjoyment out of telling people Kia now makes a sharp-looking, 365-horsepower, twin turbo, rear-wheel-drive car. If you’re Kia, you get the satisfaction of knowing sales will be up. I doubt Kia will be selling a ton of Stingers, but that car (along with the Sorento and Cadenza) is getting people to think differently about the brand in general. Sure, they may ultimately end up buying a mid-level Soul, but I doubt Kia cares — a sale is a sale. The brand’s upcoming Telluride SUV will further drive the point home. The short version is just to say that Kia’s image is changing.
No matter what you think of Kia, the Stinger deserves the attention. It’s quick, fun and attractive inside and out. But the clock is ticking on shocking your neighbors about the brand of the car. By the time 2019 rolls around, I’m guessing Stinger owners will still be approached, but it will be more like the way a stranger compliments a Mustang or a vintage Chevy Blazer — with knowing admiration and with less “What’s that?” Find a Kia Stinger for sale
Check out our 2018 Kia Stinger New Car Review