Not so long ago, luxury cars were defined primarily by the features they offered. During this era, coddling amenities such as ventilated seats and heated steering wheels were available only in premium models. Luxury brands led the way in safety, as well, and for many years, they were pretty much the only game in town if you hoped to equip your vehicle with key driver-assistive technology.
These days, the story is different. Features that were once out of reach for the average car shopper are now readily accessible in most mainstream brands. You can find ventilated seats in some economy cars, and even affordable hatchbacks offer driver-assistive technology that can avert accidents and save lives.
The 2018 Kia Stinger arrives ready to make its mark in today’s more democratic world. Kia is, of course, a Korean brand that has improved its standing by offering products that provide copious amounts of value. The Stinger finds the brand taking its game uptown, and it aims to compete against models crafted by established luxury marques such as BMW and Audi.
Kia’s Stinger seats five. It looks like your typical sport sedan at first blush, but closer inspection reveals there’s a hatchback where the trunk should be. This adds a measure of versatility, and it should serve to boost the Stinger’s stock in a car-buying environment that currently favors crossovers.
The Stinger makes a striking visual statement that starts with a graceful hood and ends with muscular rear haunches and a blunt tail end. Buyers can choose between two turbocharged engines: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder power plant good for 255 horsepower, and a frisky 365-horsepower 3.3-liter V6.
Is the Stinger worth considering if you’re in the market for an entry-level luxury car? We take a look at 8 great traits offered by this segment upstart…and we also shine a light on a shortcoming you should keep in mind before committing to buy.
Value is all about getting a lot for relatively little. Models that lead the pack in this area offer strong quality and robust feature content at unusually accessible prices.
The Kia brand has carved a formidable niche for itself by offering undeniable value, and the Stinger is expected to continue the charge. Pricing for the Stinger hasn’t yet been confirmed, but it’s expected to start in the low 30s. The Stinger competes most directly with the Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, both of which have base prices in the 40s.
When you consider the Stinger’s long list of feature content, it becomes clear that this car will likely represent a solid bargain among entry-level luxury models.
Sedans have been getting walloped by crossovers in the sales race, and one reason for their diminished performance concerns cargo capacity. Crossovers offer lots of it, with a rear hatch that facilitates easy loading. A sedan’s trunk feels a bit primitive in comparison.
The Stinger comes with a rear hatch that provides a generous 23.3 cubic feet with the second row in place and 40.9 cubic feet with those seats folded. You simply won’t find that kind of capacity in the typical entry-level premium car.
So yes, the Stinger offers great cargo capacity. But with certain vehicles, cargo capacity and rear-seat legroom are an either/or proposition: The choices that offer the most space for your cargo are often hobbled by tight legroom for passengers seated in the second row.
With the Stinger, though, you get the best of both worlds. Despite the car’s lavish cargo space, there’s also lots of room on board for rear-seat passengers to kick back and stretch their legs. Credit for this feat goes to the Stinger’s long wheelbase, which measures 114.4 inches.
This makes the 2018 Kia Stinger a satisfying choice, whether you’re hauling cargo or ferrying passengers.
Kia has pitted the Stinger against capable premium sports sedans, and shoppers expect certain things from models in that segment. One of the attributes that buyers in this category crave most is superlative acceleration.
Here, the Stinger turns in a performance that easily makes it a viable choice in a very competitive niche. With the available V6 engine, the Stinger hustles from 0-60 mph in a crisp 4.7 seconds. That puts it in the same league as the German sports sedans that have long set the standard in this segment.
Some cars have the power to turn driving into a transcendent experience. With their sharp reflexes and agile handling, these models have the goods to transform even the most ordinary commute into something special.
The Stinger offers handling that’s capable enough to place it in this elite crowd. It tackles turns with skill and gusto, cruising through corners with very little body roll. And in everyday driving, the Stinger delivers admirable levels of comfort, making it an easy choice to live with day in and day out.
Luxury is all about abundance, and many vehicles in this segment aim to coddle passengers by providing a rich list of features. This includes everything from convenience amenities to leading-edge active safety technology.
Kia’s Stinger is certainly no laggard in this department, and it comes with an impressive arsenal of standard and available amenities. Base models are equipped with features such as LED daytime running lights, leather upholstery, a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, satellite radio, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring. The list of available upgrades includes frontal collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and a driver drowsiness detection system.
One of the most compelling perks of luxury-car ownership involves having the opportunity to while away your commute in a truly deluxe cabin. The top picks in the segment feature interiors that are home to world-class design and premium materials.
Such is the case with the 2018 Stinger. This Kia tempts the senses with a cabin that’s a pleasure to gaze at and experience. The design motif is powerful and assertive, anchored by a meaty steering wheel and a handsome center stack. High-quality materials decorate the cabin, including standard leather upholstery and real aluminum trim.
Warranty concerns may seem prosaic for someone who’s about to invest in a luxury car. But it’s an important topic to consider, since a solid warranty can provide you with peace of mind and save you money in maintenance and repair costs during your ownership experience.
Kia offers one of the best warranties in the business, and the Stinger benefits from this largesse. The Stinger comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty and roadside assistance plan.
While brand cachet may not be a tangible feature, it’s something many buyers seek when shopping for a luxury car. These days, there isn’t very much to separate an entry-level luxury car from a class-leading mainstream model, if you’re looking at things like feature content and overall quality. Many shoppers will spend the extra coin involved in a luxury-car investment simply to enjoy the privilege of having an exclusive marque parked in their driveway.
While the Kia brand is certainly respected, it lacks the exclusivity provided by marques such as Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
If you’re looking to purchase a car made by a brand that will awe and dazzle your neighbors, the Stinger won’t fit the bill.
In some ways, the Stinger is an unlikely entrant in the luxury-car class, since the Kia nameplate lacks the exclusivity held by the segment’s leading brands.
But the Stinger makes up for this by going all-out to deliver strongly in the areas that matter most. It provides quick acceleration and satisfying driving dynamics, along with generous cargo capacity and a wealth of useful feature content.
The 2018 Kia Stinger delivers luxury that’s defined not by elitism, but by honest-to-goodness quality and achievement.