One of the reasons we started our annual “Must Test Drive” list is because I saw a lot of people going four, five, even 15 years between car purchases and simply buying a newer version of the car they were already driving. Keeping a car this long is actually financially smart, as it helps you get the most out of a very expensive purchase. But a new Ford, Kia or Toyota isn’t always the same kind of car it was 10 years ago. And that’s exactly why the 2018 Kia Stinger is on our 2018 “Must Test Drive” list and why we opted for a new 2018 Kia Stinger for Autotrader’s long-term ownership fleet. It’s nothing like anything Kia has ever made before, and we wanted to press it into service on a daily basis.
What Is It?
The 2018 Kia Stinger is a turbocharged, front-engine, rear wheel drive grand touring sedan that is unlike every other Kia. There are two distinct versions: One uses a 2.0L turbocharged, direct injection 4-cylinder engine that makes an impressive 255 horsepower. The other uses a 3.3L direct injection, twin-turbo V6 making 365 hp. Both versions can be had with all-wheel drive and a variety of packages and options. Kia says the 365 hp version is quicker from zero to 60 miles per hour than several pricier European GT sedans. The Stinger gets to 60 in 4.7 (according to Kia), but Car and Driver says the car can do it in 4.4 seconds. Look for a Stinger GT if you want the 365 hp V6. The least expensive twin-turbo V6 Stinger (called Stinger GT) is about $40,000.
That means the Stinger offers some serious bang for the buck when compared to other cars, like the Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 640i Gran Coupe and Lexus GS350 F-Sport. The nearest spiritual competitor to the Stinger GT is a BMW 340i or 440i Gran Coupe, and the Kia is still about $10,000 less expensive. How much is it worth to say you drive a BMW versus a Kia? It’s certainly worth something, but is it worth $10k? It’s worth even less once everyone realizes the Kia is both more powerful and quicker than the BMW. The Kia is like that kid who yells from the sidelines, “The emperor’s not wearing any clothes.” In an era of feelings over facts, many will continue to live and die by their German badges.
Our Kia Stinger
We opted for a Stinger GT2 without all-wheel drive. That means the more powerful turbo V6, rear-wheel drive and features like driver-selectable, electronically controlled suspension, sunroof, Brembo brakes, 15-speaker Harman audio system, in-car navigation and head-up display. Thankfully, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard even in the base Stinger. Total price is $50,100.
The base price for a 2018 Kia Stinger GT is about $40,000. The trim levels go up from there — with the more powerful Kias being arranged like so: GT, GT and GT2. The GT2 has no optional packages as most every piece of performance or tech equipment is included. In all other versions, buyers have the option of buying the Kia Drive Wise package ($2,000), which includes tech features like adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, forward-collision avoidance, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rain-sensing wipers. All-wheel drive is available as an option on all versions from base Stinger 2.0 to Stinger GT2 — it costs an extra $2,200. Various options and accessories are also available. For example, a cargo mat costs $125, mudguards are $95, a cargo net costs $50 — the usual stuff. Our car has none of these features, although we’re considering buying a cargo mat.
Is the Stinger worth $50,000? We’re spending a year with the car to find out. On paper, it appears there’s not a quicker or less expensive grand tourer available. Let’s see if that’s true in the real world.