Test Drive Notes Library
- Sporty. Kia, trying to put in the rear view mirror its image as merely a cheaper alternative to Honda and Toyota, launched the Stinger a few years ago to demonstrate it could build a cheaper alternative to a BMW or Audi. They succeeded. The Stinger is a rear-wheel-drive based sports sedan powered by a 3.3 liter V6 turbo, making 368 horsepower. That makes it quick, and fun to drive. The handling is a good match for the power. The Stinger corners like a good sports sedan, with good steering feel, flat cornering and, in general, agility.
- Hatchback practicality. Fortunately, for those who have kids, bikes, and groceries, the Stinger is a four-door hatchback. That means you can carry kids and passengers without asking them to “dive” into the backseat or ride on the roof. And you can carry a generous amount of cargo easily, using the rear hatch. Fold down the rear seats and you’ve got room for a bike.
- Front seat comfort. The accommodations for the driver and front seat passenger are quite nice. The front seat is a good one. Well bolstered, but not confining.
- Nice interior. The design is definitely “sporty.” It’s not high end, but the Stinger appears to be well put-together. We saw no significant gaps or embarrassingly cheap parts. In fact, a lot of the materials are soft touch. Kia provides a number of physical controls for frequently used items, which we appreciate. The 10-plus inch touch screen is reasonably intuitive, though it’s also a bit of a reach from the driver’s position, at times making it an “I can almost touch” screen.
- Safety is standard. Kudos to Kia for providing every reasonable modern safety feature as standard equipment. You get forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and bicycle detection, lane departure warning and lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, and even a sleepy driver warning. Fortunately, we doubt the Stinger will be the cause of your sleepiness.
- More warranty. Again, kudos to Kia. The bumper to bumper warranty beats most other manufacturers at 5 year/60,000 miles. And they tack on a 10 year/100,000 mile power train warranty. That doesn’t mean you won’t have any problems. But the warranty does provide some assurance that they’ll be fixed.
- Decent mileage. The mileage in our Stinger test surprised us. We got 23.5 mpg. In a high powered V6 sports car.
- Styling. We like the looks of the Stinger, too. It definitely reads sporty, but it’s not outlandish. It definitely takes a cue from sports sedans, in that it looks athletic, but not overdone.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Extra firm. Kia sees the Stinger as a less-expensive competitor to cars like the BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe and the Audi A5 Sportback. What those cars have over the Stinger is excellent ride quality. They give you sporty handling, too, but manage to keep the ride comfortable and pleasant. The Stinger doesn’t really hit that balance, offering the sharp handling, but a harsher ride. You know what provides a good balance of handling and ride for a reasonable price? A Honda Accord Sport.
- Narrow. The Stinger is plenty long. It’s got decent room up front. Aside from headroom, the back isn’t bad either. But it does feel narrow inside. There’s a coziness you get inside certain sporty cars. Those used to airy, spacious interiors, and lots of elbow room may find the feel confining.
- Delayed downshifts. While the transmission was smooth overall, we found that when we were already moving, and suddenly wanted to accelerate hard, the transmission needed a second to think. It felt like it was bogged down for a moment while we waited — then took off.
- Low. If you’ve been driving a more modern sedan or crossover, you may have forgotten what it feels like to drop into a car, and climb out. The Stinger, in sports car tradition, is low to the ground.
- Home, James. The touch screen interface would be much improved with a home button.
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