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  • 2018 Kia Stinger

    Posted on August 10th, 2018 ninarussin

    Sport sedan appeals to the car enthusiast in all of us

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Kia Stinger RWD

    Kia has a talent for making the unobtainable obtainable. That’s the idea behind the new Stinger sport sedan that competes against German marques such as the Audi A5 and BMW 5-Series. With pricing starting at $31,900 (excluding destination) for the rear-wheel drive four-cylinder model, it’s an appealing proposition.

    Power comes from a two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 255-horsepower and eight-speed automatic transmission. Zero-to-sixty acceleration, according-to the manufacturer, is 5.9 seconds. Buyers wanting more horses under the hood can opt for a 365-horsepower 3.3-liter V-6.

    Average fuel economy, according-to EPA estimates is 25 miles-per-gallon. The manufacturer recommends but does not require premium unleaded gasoline.

    Kia’s design genius, Peter Schreyer, penned the exterior based on the Kia GT concept that drew crowds at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2011. When journalists asked if Kia would actually-build something like that, the answer was: “Why not?”

    2018 Kia Stinger RWD

    In typical Kia fashion, the Stinger comes loaded with comfort and convenience features including leather upholstery, heated front seats, keyless entry and start, UVO infotainment, satellite radio, Bluetooth interface, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, 18-inch rims, heated outside mirrors and LED tail lighting.

    An active safety option package on the test car adds forward collision warning with autonomous braking, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, automatic high beams, drowsy driver warning and rear cross traffic alert. Final MSRP including the $900 destination charge is $34,800.

    Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona

    2018 Kia Stinger

    Over the past week I drove the Stinger around the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area as well as some high-speed sections of the I-10 freeway heading south towards Tucson. It’s hard to deny that the Stinger is a solid package.

    The turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers as promised, with plenty of low-end power for superb acceleration off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging onto the freeway. The eight-speed automatic transmission is precise and smooth, popping into a strong downshift when the driver pushes deep into the throttle.

    The electric power assist steering system is so well tuned that it is virtually indistinguishable from a hydraulic counterpart, with the advantage of reduced weight and mechanical components, so the driver owner doesn’t have to worry about maintenance and repair issues down the road. There’s plenty of assist at low speeds for maneuverability, with crisp on-center response and pleasantly heavy feel at speed.

    Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Stinger in firm, linear fashion.

    A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and multilink setup in the rear, with performance-tuned gas shocks. It keeps the chassis nice and flat in the corners while absorbing road chatter to keep occupants comfortable.

    2018 Kia Stinger

    At night LED headlamps deliver long, bright beams of light to illuminate darker rural and suburban surface streets. Standard LED daytime running lamps make the Stinger more visible to other drivers on winding two-lane roads as well as low-light conditions.

    If the Stinger has one Achilles heel it is rear visibility, due to its small rear glass and large pillars that together create big blind spots. What this means is that buyers have-to purchase the optional active safety package, especially if they plan to commute through rush-hour traffic.

    Engineers did a good job of minimizing wind, engine and road noise so occupants in both rows can converse on the highway or enjoy the premium audio system.

    Driver-focused interior

    2018 Kia Stinger Interior

    The focus of the Stinger interior is understandably on the driver, with nicely-bolstered seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a large touchscreen for controlling infotainment settings.

    Keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob after dark, adding a measure of safety in city centers. The driver can also fold the side mirrors flat to avoid parking lot incidents.

    I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust with a separate lower lumbar setting for good back support, and was-able-to adjust the seat high enough for a clear forward view. Both climate and audio controls are intuitive to operate.

    The dual-zone climate control system did a good job of cooling down the interior in our triple-digit heat. Separate rear vents keep second-row occupants in temperature extremes.

    In terms of design, the interior seems a bit derivative of its German counterparts, which is a disappointment considering the car’s unique, edgy exterior. In this segment where buyers are extremely image conscious, that might work in some competitive products’ favor.

    Standard safety

    The Kia Stinger comes with six airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, tire pressure monitoring and rearview camera. The Stinger comes with Kia’s ten-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty that includes five years of roadside assistance, up to 60,000 miles.

    Kia builds the Stinger at its Sohari, Korea assembly plant.

    Like: An affordable sport sedan that competes against luxury products with a considerably lower MSRP, with excellent performance and a sexy exterior.

    Dislike: Poor visibility to the back and rear corners makes the optional active safety package more of a necessity, adding $2000 to the base MSRP.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Kia
    Model: Stinger RWD
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $31,900
    As tested: $34,800
    Horsepower: 255 HP @ 6200 rpm
    Torque: 260 lbs.-ft. @ 1400 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: 5.9 seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 22/29 MPG city/highway

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