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2019 Kia Stinger: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by AutoTrader November 2018

In a world rapidly filling with crossovers and big SUVS, it's nice to know a car like the 2019 Kia Stinger still exists. One might say something similar about a BMW 4 Series or an Audi A5 Sportback, but a Kia? Well, in this case, absolutely. In the Stinger, Kia has created a performance sedan with adept handling, a potent twin-turbocharged engine and all the luxury expected of a car in this class, but with a price tag that lays waste to just about every competitor, foreign and domestic.

The Stinger is a stunning looker of a car, but it's also a pretty practical and sensible car, too. Its larger exterior dimensions allow for generous bac-seat space, while its hatchback trunk is more versatile than a traditional sedan's. It's also a Kia, so it comes with a superb warranty. Now, you may raise an eyebrow at a Kia that can cross the $50,000 barrier, but a comparable Audi or BMW would be at least $10,000 more. Plus, you don't need to pay anywhere near that. Even the base Stinger, at around $34,000, is plenty of fun and still comes with more equipment and power than more humble luxury car competitors.

What's New for 2019?

For 2019, the base Stinger gains a blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic detection and new 18-inch alloy wheels. The Premium and GT1 trims pick up Kia's Advanced Driver Assist System, wireless phone charging and ventilated front seats, while the base GT gets a limited-slip rear differential. The GT2 adds a Surround View monitor and heated rear seats.

What We Like

Precise and engaging to drive; GT engine outdoes pricier competitors; generous standard features for the money; ample passenger and cargo space

What We Don't

Steering can be nervous on certain highway surfaces; far-away touchscreen; no manual transmission available

How Much?

$33,895-$53,600

Fuel Economy

The base Kia Stinger is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. On every Stinger, an 8-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive are standard, but all-wheel drive is optional. Fuel economy is 22 miles per gallon in city driving, 29 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg combined. AWD effectively lowers fuel city economy by one mpg, while highway mileage remains the same.

The Kia Stinger GT has a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 good for 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. Its fuel economy is 19 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined and 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined with AWD. During a 1,400-mile road trip in a GT AWD, we achieved 26 mpg.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Kia Stinger is available in five trim levels: The 4-cylinder-powered base and Premium and the V6-powered GT, GT1 and GT2. All can be optioned with AWD for an extra $2,200. All pricing listed below includes a $995 destination charge.

The base Stinger ($33,895) is very well equipped. It comes standard with 18-inch wheels, a temporary spare tire, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, automatic headlights, LED running lights, heated power-folding mirrors, proximity entry and push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, blind spot and rear cross-traffic warning, heated 8-way power front seats (with 4-way driver lumbar), leather upholstery, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 7-in touchscreen, three USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, UVO eServices emergency communications, a 6-speaker sound system with satellite and HD Radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a media player interface.

The Stinger Premium ($40,095) adds bi-LED headlights, a sunroof, a power-adjustable steering wheel, an electronic parking brake, Advanced Driver Assist System (forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and emergency automatic braking, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, lane-keeping assistance, lane-departure warning, a driver-inattention warning system, automatic high beams and automatic wipers), ventilated front seats, wireless phone charging, driver memory functions, a 7-in color instrument cluster screen, an 8-in touchscreen interface, integrated navigation and a 15-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

The Stinger GT ($40,095) effectively reverts to the base equipment level but adds the more powerful engine, 19-in wheels, launch control, electronic limited-slip rear differential, variable ratio steering, a flat-bottomed sport steering wheel, different exterior trim and aluminum interior trim. Exceptions would include standard bi-LED headlights and a 9-speaker sound system.

The Stinger GT1 ($46,095) combines the Premium's extras with those of the GT. It also adds an adaptive suspension and auto-dimming exterior mirrors.

The Stinger GT2 ($50,985) includes the heated outboard rear seats, a Surround View monitor plus a limited-slip differential, an electronic shifter, a power hatchback, a 12-way power driver seat with adjustable side bolsters and thigh extension, 4-way passenger lumbar, ventilated front seats, premium Nappa leather and a head-up display.

Options for the base Stinger include a Sun and Sound package that adds Harman Kardon audio, navigation, LED headlamps and a power sunroof.

Safety

Every Stinger comes standard with front-side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags, a driver's-side knee airbag, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot and rear cross-traffic warning, a rearview camera and UVO eServices emergency communications (automatic collision notification, an emergency call button, stolen vehicle location). The Advance Driver Assistance System package adds forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and emergency automatic braking, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, lane-keeping assistance, lane-departure warning and a driver-inattention warning system.

The Stinger had not been crash-tested by a third party at the time of this writing.

Behind the Wheel

Even the 4-cylinder Stinger should be plenty of fun, but the GT represents the Stinger at its absolute best. Its adaptive suspension, variable ratio steering (it's ultra-quick), bigger wheels and limited-slip differential (GT2) combine with a gutsy 365-hp engine to create a car that's highly proficient and precise, yet rewards its driver with plenty of feedback. Even the available AWD system has been tuned to be rear-biased, allowing the Stinger to maintain the feel of a rear-drive car, while still providing all-weather reassurance. That adaptive suspension also provides a surprisingly comfortable ride -- anyone used to German sport sedans should feel right at home.

The interior is a handsome, well-made space that cossets you with ample equipment and a surprising amount of noise isolation. Are the materials as premium as those you'd find in an Audi or a Mercedes? No, but there's still a massive price difference here, and honestly, there's not much of a drop off (if anything) from luxury brands like Acura or Infiniti. We also like the easy-to-use touchscreen interface and its wealth of features, though we wish it was easier to reach.

Space up front is excellent, with a lower, hunkered driving position that's more like a Mustang or a Camaro than a sport sedan. That definitely adds to the cool factor. Adding to the practicality factor is a back seat more akin to an Audi A7 than an A5 Sportback. Comparable to both is the hatchback trunk that boasts 23.3 cu ft. with the back seat raised (a typical sedan has between 13 and 16) and 40.9 cu ft. with it lowered (a wagon typically has between 50 and 60).

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Buick Regal Sportback -- Comparable in price and in trunk design, the Regal Sportback lines up well with the base Stinger in most respects, but even the Regal GS can't match the GT's power. This is another good choice for those seeking a more budget-friendly alternative to European luxury models.

2019 Audi A5 and A5 Sportback -- As for European luxury models, the A5 and A5 Sportback are effectively the targets the Stinger is intended to hit. They line up well in terms of body style and performance. Read our Stinger review to know more about how it stacks up with these Audis.

2019 Dodge Charger -- Perhaps something like an Acura TLX or an Infiniti Q50 would be a more logical "competitor," but with its rear-wheel drive, high-powered engine, flashy styling and budget pricing, the Charger sure seems like more of a spiritual equal to the Stinger.

Used Audi A7 -- With its sleek proportions, comparable size and hatchback trunk, the A7 is arguably the car that inspired the Stinger. It's far more expensive, however, so considering a used or certified pre-owned one would probably be in order.

Autotrader's Advice

If you're just looking for a cool, fun-to-drive car with lots of space and equipment, you really don't need anything more than the base Stinger. The GT1 is probably the smartest bet among the V6-powered models. Sure, if you've got the cash for the GT2, go for it, but the GT1's adaptive suspension and ample extra niceties make it a good compromise.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2019 Kia Stinger: New Car Review - Autotrader