2018 Kia Stinger Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 9.0

Whether you are heading to the track or taking a Sunday drive, the 2018 Kia Stinger is a comfortable, engaging sports sedan. It comes with the choice of a four-cylinder or V6 engine – and both are ready to run at the slightest touch of the gas pedal. Its handling is among the most athletic in the class, though fuel economy is a little below average.

  • "The steering is sharp and responsive. Acceleration is definitely in the big leagues. The bi-turbo 6-cylinder engine's 4.7-second 0-to-60 time is quicker than the supercharged Audi A7 Sportback, BMW 4- and 6-series Gran Coupes, Q50 3-liter and Lexus GS 350." -- USA Today
  • "When taking to the road course, the Stinger again inspired confidence, with friendly handling dynamics, resolute brakes and good power out of the corners." -- CNET
  • "Kia regularly referenced cars like the Audi S5 Sportback, BMW 440i Gran Coupe, Lexus GS, and even the Porsche Panamera when discussing the Stinger's target competition. As we sat in the technical briefing prior to driving the Stinger, it was tough to reconcile those comparisons. After experiencing the Kia Stinger those references to established, benchmark sport sedans made sense. The 2018 Kia Stinger rivals those cars in styling, premium features and interior space. It even matches or beats most of them in terms of driving performance, though the Panamera remains a step ahead of the Stinger (as it should, given its more than double starting price)." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The Stinger and Stinger Premium editions come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It features paddle shifters, a twin-scroll turbocharger, and a 255-horsepower rating. This engine is eager and willing, but if you're looking for something more assertive, check out the Stinger GT. Its 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 is meaty enough to launch you from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds (shaving 1.2 seconds off the four-cylinder engine's time). The GT also employs an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel economy is a touch below average on the Stinger. Its four-cylinder engine is rated at 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. With the V6 engine, expect 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway.

  • "I didn't expect to like the regular Stinger as much as I did. It's powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a twin-scroll turbocharger, rated at 255 hp and 260 pounds-feet of torque at 1,400-4,000 rpm, and it's not bad at all. Kia says 60 mph comes in just 5.9 seconds, and the standard transmission's shorter 1st and 2nd gears keep it from feeling too much softer than the GT off the line. It sounds a little buzzier, but it does its job well. The transmission was just as responsive as the GT's." -- Cars.com
  • "What makes the Stinger GT especially satisfying to drive is its deep well of accessible torque. The twin-turbo V6 offers up its maximum 376 lb.-ft. of torque from just 1,350 rpm up to 4,200 rpm, so throttle response is immediate and lively around town, on the highway for merging or passing, and for taking a fast line through entertaining corners on your favorite stretch of twisty road. There are five drive modes tailoring throttle response, shift points, shock damping and steering effort, selectable by a console-mounted switch. They include Eco, Comfort, Sport, Custom and Smart, the latter probably the best default choice for mixed driving." -- New York Daily News
  • "On the city streets around our starting point in North Hollywood, California, the Stinger drives smaller than its exterior proportions might suggest. The cabin is well insulated from the outside world, feeling quiet and hushed save the smooth-sounding V6 exhaust note when the engine is pushed. The claimed 0 to 60 time of 4.7 seconds is quicker than base models of the Audi A7 and Porsche Panamera, and enough to make the Stinger feel spritely and eager when instigated. Though biased toward slickness over speed, the eight-speed auto tends to find the right gear. Taking over with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters isn't immediate enough to justify their use; best to let the computers to do their jobs." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

The Stinger's handling can be labeled as grippy, composed, and dynamic, all at the same time. Test drivers rank its performance on par with other top sports sedans – including notables from BMW. Five selectable drive modes are standard: Custom, Eco, Sport, Comfort, and Smart. Shoppers have the option of standard rear-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive in every trim level, and a limited slip differential is available in select Stinger GT models.

  • "Handling is the Stinger's greatest attribute, and it's no surprise. Kia's head of Vehicle Test and High Performance Development was lured away from BMW – and he's not just some rando from BMW proper. Albert Biermann was vice president of engineering at the M Performance division. So can the Stinger GT keep up with a BMW? Absolutely – not an M version, but it's unquestionably in the same ballpark as BMWs and other luxury performance sedans and hatches." -- Cars.com
  • "Out in the mountains, the Stinger GT exhibits a surprising but intriguing combination of vertical compliance and lateral stiffness. Over bumps, the suspension was soft and the ride of luxury-car quality. In the corners, though, it was stiff with excellent body control. Even when pushing hard, the Stinger GT rode well but dug into corners with little body roll." -- Motor Trend
  • "Perched on grippy, standard, staggered-width Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires (225/40R19 in front and 255/35R19 in back), the Kia enthusiastically entered challenging turns. Body control with the GT's standard adaptive shock absorbers was seamless, damping vertical motions without feeling overly stiff or jouncy. The car cornered flat with little or no body roll. Steering effort and weighting was just about right, with the variable-rate dual-pinion electric steering quelling nervousness just off-center, yet plenty quick for sharper corners." -- New York Daily News

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