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2018 Kia Stinger vs. 2018 Kia Cadenza: What’s the Difference?

  • 2018 Kia Stinger has an available 365-hp 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6, allowing it to achieve a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds
  • 2018 Kia Cadenza has the more luxurious interior
  • Both the Stinger and the Cadenza start around $33,000

When weighing the 2018 Kia Stinger against the 2018 Kia Cadenza, there are several key differences, any one of which might sway you to pick one over the other. Despite the Kia badge on the snout of each, these sedans hold little in common with one another. It’s Puma Speed 1000 Ignite running shoes versus Allen Edmonds Wingtips. It’s apples to oranges. It’s … well, you get the idea.


Although there are some exterior similarities — primarily the Kia tiger-nose grille and cat’s-eye headlamps — just about everything you can see from the curb is different. Everything. At the heart of it, the Cadenza is a large car, while the Stinger is midsize. The Stinger’s wheelbase is a couple of inches longer, but the Cadenza’s overall length is more than five inches longer. The Cadenza towers over the Stinger by more than two inches. Because the Stinger is a sportback with a hatch opening to the trunk, its roofline sweeps all the way to the tip of the car’s tail. The Cadenza is a traditional 3-box, sedan design with a trunk lid. The Stinger has a significantly longer hood and shorter front overhang than the larger sedan.


Much more of a driver’s car, the 2018 Kia Stinger reflects its sporty mandate in the simple lines of its interior. More svelte and much less congested than the instrument panel in the Cadenza, the Stinger’s IP is more business like. In general, the Stinger’s interior is more subtle and understated. Where there is a difference in interior measurements, the Cadenza comes out on top every time. Head, leg and shoulder room, front or back, the advantage goes to the Cadenza. Where the Stinger does outshine the Cadenza is in cargo capacity. The Stinger has about 30 percent more cargo room with the second-row seat in place than Cadenza. Folding the Stinger’s 60/40-split rear seat creates about 175 percent more maximum cargo space: 40.9 cu ft. vs. 23.3 cu ft. The Stinger’s front seats are more sculpted, offering additional lateral support.


Although both sedans switch the cogs with an 8-speed automatic transmission, the Stinger’s is more aggressively geared. Moreover, the Stinger is rear- or all-wheel drive, while the Cadenza is FWD. The Cadenza comes armed with a 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 engine, delivering 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The regular Stinger uses a 255-hp 2-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine for propulsion rated by the government at 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway. Opting for AWD trims one mpg from the city mileage. Powering the hot-shoe Stinger GT is a 365-hp 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 capable of hustling the Stinger GT to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in a neck-snapping 4.7 seconds. Regardless of the number of drive wheels, the 3.3L delivers 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

Features & Technology

Many features are shared by these sedans. Higher-end gear like leather seating and dual-zone automatic climate control are standard on both cars. They provide a 7-in touchscreen, UVO telematics and an audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A wide array of high-tech driver-assist systems, such as automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist, are available on both cars.

Driving Experience

Behind the wheel is where the rubber meets the road. Here, drivers have a clear choice between the Cadenza’s comfy living-room setting with high-end ride quality and the Stinger’s more sporty cockpit with athletic performance. Make no mistake, the Cadenza provides enthusiastic acceleration, but it’s much more relaxed. It’s comfort over sportiness. It’s decorum over chaos. The Stinger, on the other hand, is all about creating a ruckus. Even as the regular Stinger, it chomps at the bit when resting at a red light. It gallops from 0-to-60 in less than six seconds, or a full second quicker than the Cadenza. Its steering is quick and it corners like a cheetah. Step up to the Stinger GT and you’re suddenly elevated into the top tier of performance sedans. A sedan engineered for flogging through the twisties, the Stinger GT is no poser.


The International Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the 2018 Cadenza its Top Safety Pick rating. It earned the IIHS top score of Good in every category of its crash testing. The government has yet to crash test the Cadenza. Neither the government nor IIHS has crash tested the Stinger. Both sedans come standard with seven airbags, hill-start assist and a backup camera. All but the entry-level Cadenza have blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change assist and rear parking assist included in their base price. These features are optional in the entry-level Cadenza. Unavailable in the entry-level grade, but standard in all other Cadenzas are automatic high beams, autonomous emergency braking, advanced smart cruise control, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning. Standard only on the top Cadenza trim are surround view monitor and head up display.

Every Stinger includes front parking assist as well as rear parking assist in its base price. Standard on the top grade of the Stinger GT, but optional on all other Stingers are forward-collision assist (autonomous emergency braking) with pedestrian warning, forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, driver attention warning, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring with lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert and smart cruise control. The top Stinger GT2 grade also provides a head up display as standard equipment.


The choice here is pretty clear: conservative comfort or rowdy performance. Both offer a ton of value and, of course, that great Kia warranty. Pricing, at least at the low end, is fairly close, as well. The Cadenza ranges from $33,140 with destination fee to $45,540. The Stinger’s pricing begins at $32,750 and climbs to $50,050 for the tricked-out Stinger GT2.

Find a Kia Stinger for sale.

Find a Kia Cadenza for sale.


Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps is an author specializing in automotive, financial and travel news. For nearly 35 years he has covered the automotive industry for newspapers, magazines and internet websites. His resume includes The Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, The Washington Times and numerous other daily newspapers through syndication. He edited Auto World magazine, and helped create and edit NOPI Street... Read More about Russ Heaps

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