You probably already have an opinion about what it means to drive a Kia. Maybe words like “acceptable” and “economical” quickly come to mind. But perhaps that opinion was formed before you laid eyes on the 2018 Kia Stinger.
It’s branded as a luxury car built by people who truly care about luxury cars. And get this—it’s eager to compete with big German automakers that dominate the segment. Hold the chuckle, for it may be time to update that opinion. With traditional car sales declining and ceding major ground to crossovers and the like, the question may not be, “Can the name plate Kia sell this car?” It might be something like, “Can any badge sell enough cars to justify this amount of effort in a waning market?”
It’s far from an industry secret that SUVs, crossovers, and light trucks continue to take up a bigger and bigger percentage of automotive sales nationwide. According to the Wall Street Journal, overall 2017 SUV/crossover sales are up 6.3 percent from September last year. In that same time span, overall car sales have dropped 10.5 percent. Midsize car sales are even less encouraging, down 12.3 percent from last year.
Looks and Performance
First things first, the 2018 Kia Stinger is the real deal. This isn’t a bargain-bin version of a luxury car. In fact, the Acura TLX, Cadillac ATS, and Jaguar XE (wow) are just a few of the colossal names the Stinger ranks above in Car And Driver’s list of top entry-luxury rides. Unveiled at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, the Kia’s design team is guided by leading minds poached from titans like Volkswagen and BMW. Since then, a Stinger GT was named “Best in Show” at the 2017 SEMA Show, with renowned aftermarket brands like Eibach, K&N, Borla, and Air Design USA taking part in the custom build. So yeah, Kia isn’t kidding around.
And the all-new Stinger’s specs are more than ready to compete with the big boys. The base engine offering is a turbocharged 2.0L inline four-cylinder, making 255 horsepower. A twin-turbo 3.3L V6 making a respectable 365 horsepower is also available. The transmission is an 8-speed automatic, and both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive are available.
The 2018 Kia Stinger stands out from the pack with a hatchback-body style (its shape is alleged to be partially inspired by a Coca-Cola Bottle). There is plenty of seating room for five adults to ride in maximum comfort. Great strides have been made to improve the steering and handling from Kia’s last rear-wheel drive sedan, the K900. And the 19” wheels and standard Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires offer a grip and control competitive with the Audi and Mercedes models it will be doing sales battle with come its release time in December.
Available goodies for the Stinger include a standard 7” touchscreen with Kia’s UVO infotainment system. LED headlights are available, as is leather upholstery. A topnotch Harman/Kardon audio system and blind spot warning are just a couple of the upgrades that make this ride ready to carve out a nice, thick slice of the sedan market. So, you see, the concern for Kia lies not with the Stinger’s capability, but the car market itself.
2018 Kia Stinger, Shaking Things Up
Is the Kia Stinger designed to crash the luxury car party dominated by European stalwarts? It certainly is. And with a price tag starting around $33,000 (fully loaded for about $48,000), it is more affordable than most of the models that it outperforms. What remains to be seen is exactly how much longer this party is going to keep raging.