2018 Kia Stinger

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MSRP: $31,900 - 51,400

2018 Kia Stinger Review

The 2018 Kia Stinger debuts with a top-notch ranking in its class, thanks to its pure driving athleticism. The car's interior also gets a lot of praise for its ample passenger room, sizable trunk, and long list of standard features. 

9.1

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.4
Performance: 9.0
Interior: 8.5
Safety: TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Dynamic handling
  • Eager turbocharged engines
  • Feature-rich, straightforward infotainment system
  • Outstanding warranty and predicted reliability ratings
  • Large cargo area

 

  • So-so fuel economy

 

Is the Kia Stinger a Good Car?

Right off the bat, Kia got it right. The Stinger earns great reviews that clearly deem it a good car. Dynamic handling, excellent road grip, and good engine power should provide tons of enjoyment for driving enthusiasts. A choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive in every trim level also boosts the Stinger's performance chops. Still, Kia wants this to be a practical vehicle, so passengers aren't overlooked; leather seats are standard (which is actually still a novelty for luxury cars) and there's lots of room for rear-seat passengers to spread out. The Stinger also offers more cargo room than the typical small luxury sedan, thanks to its sportback design.

Should I Buy the Kia Stinger?

You should buy the Stinger if you want a sporty, posh car that can easily pull daily-driver duty. The Stinger gets some of the best performance scores among luxury small cars, with engaging agility and two potent powertrains to choose from.

One of the Stinger’s handicaps, through no fault of its own, is its newness to the segment. Some shoppers might question if Kia has built an authentic rear-wheel-drive sports sedan that can run with class heavyweights like the BMW 3 Series. Others may have a hard time opting for a car wearing a Kia badge instead of a longtime luxury stalwart like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

However, with a starting price of about $32,000, the Stinger may be the best value in the class. It is lower-priced than nearly all of its classmates – and thousands of dollars less than the 3 Series or C-Class. For your money, you'll get standard amenities like a well-equipped infotainment system and leather seats, along with one of the longest warranties on the market.

Compare the Stinger, 3 Series, and C-Class »

Should I Buy a New or Used Kia Stinger?

The Stinger is brand-new for 2018, so there are no previous model years to choose from.

We Did the Research for You: 18 Reviews Analyzed

Our Kia Stinger review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from more than a dozen sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

Why You Can Trust Us

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Jobs, Best Hospitals, and Best Colleges to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. We've been ranking and reviewing the Best Cars since 2007, backed by a team with more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. To keep favoritism out of the picture, we maintain a separate advertising team and decline expensive gifts and trips from car companies.

How Much Does the Kia Stinger Cost?

The 2018 Kia Stinger costs a few thousand dollars less than the typical luxury small car. Models start at $31,900 and can reach as high as $49,200. These figures refer to the rear-wheel-drive editions, but you can add all-wheel drive to any trim for $2,200. For great savings at your local Kia dealer, check out our U.S. News Best Price Program. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

Kia Stinger Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Kia Stinger or BMW 3 Series?

The BMW 3 Series is fun to drive and offers a wide range of powerful engine choices. It's also backed by good crash test and predicted reliability scores. For spirited drivers, both of these vehicles are good choices – though the 3 Series isn't quite as good of a value as the Stinger. It has a higher base price by a few thousand dollars, and you'll have to pay more to get a peppier engine or options like leather seats, power-adjustable or heated front seats, satellite radio, or Apple CarPlay. In comparison, all of these come standard in the Stinger.

Which Is Better: Kia Stinger or Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more luxurious car in this class than the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Opulent materials cover nearly every surface of its cabin. There's also a long list of add-ons, like a panoramic sunroof, pre-entry climate control, and a 13-speaker premium Burmester audio system. However, the C-Class starts at over $40,000, and prices can balloon quickly from there. It also doesn't come standard with amenities that the Stinger does, such as leather upholstery. The Mercedes' performance is geared more toward comfortable cruising, while the Stinger is the more agile of the two cars.

Compare the Stinger, 3 Series, and C-Class »

Stinger Interior

How Many People Does the Stinger Seat?

The Stinger seats five people inside a roomy, opulent cabin. Every passenger gets ample room to spread out, especially in the back, where the Kia offers more legroom than the Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Alfa Romeo Giulia. Standard leather upholstery and heated front seats add to the Stinger's comfort. 

Stinger and Car Seats

The Stinger's LATCH child-seat system includes three tether anchors (one for each rear seat) and two sets of lower anchors on the outboard seats. 

Stinger Interior Quality

While many pricier rivals (including the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series) come standard with synthetic leather seats, Kia includes genuine leather upholstery in every Stinger. The fit and finish throughout the cabin is excellent. Supple Nappa leather is available as an upgrade, but few other top-notch materials can be added. Partly because of this, professional opinions are split on whether the Stinger's cabin is at the same level as its Audi competitors.

Stinger Cargo Space

A key advantage of owning a sportback (as Kia describes the Stinger's body style) is cargo space. The large hatchback of the Stinger opens up to 23.3 cubic feet of storage – far larger than the class average. When you want to tote large or bulky items, you can fold down the rear seat for up to 40.9 cubic feet of cargo space.

Stinger Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The infotainment system – led by Kia's latest UVO interface – is like a breath of fresh air next to complex tech from Lexus or BMW. The system comes with straightforward menus, and the location and selection of redundant buttons allows drivers to access a variety of controls without taking their eyes off the road. Goodies like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto add to the Stinger's user-friendliness. For an extra boost, add on the 15-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system.

Read more about interior »

Stinger Performance

Stinger Engine: Punchy or Potent

The Stinger comes in two different flavors: punchy (when powered by the four-cylinder engine) and potent (when wielding the V6). Both are turbocharged, providing brisk acceleration every time you ask. They are paired with a polished eight-speed automatic transmission. For the ultimate in Kia performance and the ability to reach 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, go with the 365-horsepower V6.

Stinger Gas Mileage: A Touch Low

With its four-cylinder engine, the Stinger gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. These ratings are a little lower than the typical fuel economy for a luxury small car. Estimates drop to 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway with the V6.

Stinger Ride and Handling: Engaging and Athletic

The Stinger exhibits a magical balance between comfort and sport. When pushed hard in twisty canyons, test drivers say it stays glued to the road and absorbs pavement imperfections to keep the ride smooth. Steering and braking are similarly responsive and predictable.

Read more about performance »

Stinger Reliability

Is the Kia Stinger Reliable?

The 2018 Kia Stinger has an above-average predicted reliability rating of four out of five from J.D. Power.

Kia Stinger Warranty

Kia covers the Stinger with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is one of the longest warranties in the class.

Read more about reliability »

Stinger Safety

Stinger Crash Test Results

No crash test results have been released for the Kia Stinger at this time.

Stinger Safety Features

Standard safety equipment on the Kia Stinger includes front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Available in every model is forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, driver drowsiness warning, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. A head-up display is standard in the Stinger GT2 model.

Read more about safety »

Which Kia Stinger Model Is Right for Me?

For its debut year, the Stinger comes in five trim levels: base, Premium, GT, GT1, and GT2. The base Stinger and Stinger Premium models feature a four-cylinder engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger and a 255-horsepower rating. Under the hood of every GT edition is a 365-horspower twin-turbo V6. No matter which engine you select, you’ll get an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is available across the board for $2,200.

If you're in the market for a sports sedan, you'll get more satisfaction with one of the V6-powered GT models. The Stinger GT represents a reasonable $6,450 upcharge over the base model and slashes more than a second off your sprint time (hitting 60 mph in only 4.7 seconds). Most interior amenities match the base Stinger, but that's OK since this vehicle is packed full of standard features. For $2,000, you can add an advanced driver assistance package that includes forward collision warning with automatic braking, automatic high beams, lane keep assist, and more.

Kia Stinger (Base)

The base Stinger costs $31,900 and comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive. Interior highlights include leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with heat. Other standard features include Kia's UVO infotainment interface, a 7-inch touch screen, six speakers, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, USB ports, satellite radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, proximity key entry, power-folding heated exterior mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera.

Kia Stinger Premium  

Highlights of the Stinger Premium ($37,100) include a moonroof, an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, and a 15-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system. 

Kia Stinger GT  

The star feature of the Stinger GT is its twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 engine. As the performance-oriented edition in the lineup, this model boasts other sporty additions, such as aluminum pedals and a flat-bottom steering wheel. The GT comes in three different levels. The base GT, which starts at $38,350, comes with a 7-inch touch screen and nine speakers. This system is upgraded in the GT1 ($43,250) to include an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, and a 15-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system.

A multitude of comfort and safety features are added to the range-topping GT2. Standout features of this $49,200 edition include Nappa leather upholstery, extra power adjustments for the front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, a limited slip differential, a hands-free power trunk lid, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, driver drowsiness warning, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, and a head-up display.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

See 2018 Kia Stinger specs and trims »

The Final Call

Kia's first attempt at a sporty luxury car – the Stinger – is a success. Like some of its stablemates (such as the Soul and Sorento), the Stinger stands out for being a well-rounded package at a great price. Even the base trim is packed with delights. It's also one of the sportier luxury small cars on the market; its performance is said to be on par with that of the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Kia unleashes a premium sport sedan worthy of challenging the world's best … The concept of 'grand touring' has been around for centuries, and the moniker has been applied to cars since the 1940s, but it's a term we tend to associate with exotic sports cars. The formula, though, is pretty simple: stylish, comfortable on a long drive, and plenty of power. But there's no rule that says it has to cost a fortune, and the Kia Stinger GT is absolutely taking advantage of this exception." -- Motor Trend
  • "Overall, the 2018 Kia Stinger is a tremendously satisfying package that lives up to its billing. Particularly in GT guise, it offers a beguiling mix of spirited performance, good ride quality and surprising utility. It's not just an impressive first effort for a sporty grand tourer from Kia, it's an impressive car, full stop. The Stinger may have a hard time cracking the shopping lists of Audi, BMW and Lexus intenders, but that doesn't mean luxury buyers wouldn't be wise to give it a chance." -- CNET
  • "Few, if any, buyers will cross-shop the Stinger against the likes of the Audi A7, Mercedes-Benz CLS or the Porsche Panamera. Still, the Kia's attractive package and promising performance reinforce the idea that if you can divorce yourself from brand snobbery, this fresh-faced newcomer just might be the sleeper bargain performance sedan of the year." -- Autoblog
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