By on October 10, 2018

This is an interesting one. The Stinger is new territory for Kia, venturing into the sporty sedan marketplace generally inhabited by ze Germans and perhaps a few other fringe players. Certainly, in a world where the general public thirsts for crossovers and SUVs, it’ll never be the brand’s top seller.

Hasn’t stopped them from trying, though, and for this I applaud their efforts. Kia decided to give Stinger shoppers a choice of engines, allowing the base model to plunge into the low-$30,000 range. Is it worth a look? Or should one simply upgrade to the tasty 3.3-liter twin-turbo?

Having driven both, there’s no doubt in my mind the bigger mill is a lot more fun. An extra 110 horsepower has that effect, you know. Still, 255 hp in a car tipping the scales at about 3,600 lbs isn’t exactly pokey. For comparison, it should be noted a four-cylinder Camry XSE weighs only about 200 lbs less but makes 50 fewer horses.

For the sum of $32,900, the base 2.0L spec comes with that forced induction inline-four hooked to an eight-speed automatic endowed with paddle shifters. More importantly, that little mill makes 260 lb-ft of twist at a barely-off-idle 1,400 rpm, giving the four-banger Stinger a sprightly feel around town.

Its rear-drive manners play well with enthusiastic driving, although any attempt to race Tran for slips should be left to the twin-turbo V6. It’s a good looking car, even in its base trim, with projector headlamps and LED running lights. Chrome spears dash along the side of the Stinger like flights on a dart while the 18-inch wheels give the impression you spent more money than you actually did. Micro Blue Pearl shown here is a no-charge color.

Your humble author, a human measuring 6’6” in his size 13 stocking feet, has always found it a challenge to enter and exit the Stinger, thanks to a narrow driver’s door opening, a low roofline,  and seats that are more heavily bolstered than the average bear. This was the first car in ages in which I hammered my noggin upon entry.

Once inside, though, the Kia cabin is more than welcoming, featuring a large touchscreen (7-inches in the base car) housing Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Select your level of aggo through the dashboard menu, cycling through five drive modes from Eco to Sport. Dual-zone climate control and a raft of charging points keep all hands happy. The base spec chairs are trimmed in leather, adjusting 12 ways for the driver.

Is the 365 hp 3.3L twin-turbo car with its launch control a better engine? You bet it is. At a savings of $6,200, however, the base Stinger is a compelling package. It might not be an Ace of Base winner compared to the other trims in its lineup, but it’s still a damn good sedan. With the way buyer’s tastes are going, we may not see many more of ‘em. Appreciate them while you can.

[Images: Kia Motors]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options absent of destination or discounts and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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53 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2019 Kia Stinger 2.0L...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Meh…

    If I’m gonna get the 4 cyl I’m going to get 2.0T Premium so I’ve got the bigger full color touchscreen, Lexicon audio, and heated and cooled everything.

    FYI the 4 cyl has launch control as well.

    I like that the Stinger is fairly easy to get to over-steer in any configuration.

    What I don’t like is that the base GT has the low rent interior of the base 2.0 – I feel like the trims should be GT1, GT2 with no “GT” and the GT1 should start where the base GT does now. (Yes GT trims are GT/GT1/GT2.)

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I have to say this. It looks nice inside, I sat in it. But when you look at how it is made inside, something is off. And the interior that said to be cavernous, is not that big. But fine. Then there are only few colors avail in base. And I’ve heard reviewers complained about squeaks in nearly new Stingers.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        And I’ve heard reviewers complained about squeaks in nearly new Stingers.

        So have I and the dealers have a TSB on that. Largely it seems to be an issue with the hatch and the strikers that are intended to hold it in place when closed. If they aren’t adjusted correctly the hatch flexes within the opening.

      • 0 avatar
        sgtjmack

        Cavernous by Kia s standards.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Seems like something is missing here. I don’t think this car has enough pedals.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I don’t know what’s missing, but the exterior – especially the front view – just screams base version. And I usually like understated cars.

    Maybe it’s the similarities to the optima.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      It is the headlights. All other Stinger trims get the much nicer LED headlights that make it look much more premium. Fortunately for 2019 you can now get the base Stinger 2.0L with the LEDs as an option bundled with the sunroof if you cant afford to spring for the Premium or GT.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I saw a Stinger on the road, though I didn’t notice a trim badge.

      I thought it looked really good in person.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      Front Foglights. My base spec Saab did without, and Euro taxi spec Octavias do without. Now I can’t unsee. A front foglight-less car now is poverty rental spec.

      I don’t think I’ve seen a Stinger on the road yet. Or, if I have, I’ve mistaken it for the Optima.

  • avatar
    sgtjmack

    Maybe Kia should make a performance SUV…

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    I cannot get over the ugly side reflector at the rear, what were the designers thinking? It makes the reflector on the 2004 Acura TL look like an understated masterpiece. No sale.

  • avatar
    dwford

    These are being discounted HEAVILY in some areas. Do a search and you’ll see discounts pushing $10k off. A steal.

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    Idk if I would call the base model an Ace of Base, but it does seem fine. The extra incentives sure do help.

    I’m beginning the shopping process of finding my father a retirement car to replace his 16 Accord Lease. I want to take a look at the Stinger Premium for fun. He’s always wanted a somewhat sporty “5-series” like sedan and this may come close. I’m not it is luxurious enough or a good highway cruiser, but think it’s worth a test drive. Honestly, the interior just leaves a lot to be desired in the Stinger. It’s just so drab and boring and not in the way German cars do it well.

    So far the new Accord, Mazda6, Avalon all have the best chances of being picked, but good on Kia for having an appealing product for us to check out.

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    This looks like a winner but not in the featured blue color. And, I would add the AWD option.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    How’s the turbo lag on the Stinger 4?
    I love that these cars have a rear hatch.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Wifey and me sat in a candy apple red Stinger GT2 last weekend. Loved everything about the car – now if we can scrape up $48K…

  • avatar
    EX35

    Every K/H car I’ve driven has felt under engineered/“loose”/not solid at high speed compared with German and even some American competitors (CTS). It becomes even more noticeable after a few years of use. Is this stinger in that same mold or completely different?

    • 0 avatar
      sgtjmack

      It is still a Kia/Hyundai, so you can look back or even over, at their Genesis line, their GX of a few years ago, their Tiburon or any of their vehicles going back only ten years max. They do not hold up over time. They should have stayed within their econobox realm and perfected that. But they are getting greedy and venturing out without bringing their quality up first.

      • 0 avatar
        EX35

        For me, I was more concerned with the engineering/robustness of the parts used. The bmw 5 series/mb e class/Caddy CTS felt so much more solid than even the genesis G90. The genesis interior felt like equal quality, but something just felt lacking underneath the seat. Am I the only one that feels this way?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I can’t speak for Genesis, but if you are looking for a Mercedes road experience then I’d skip the Stinger. It’s more “pony car” than “premium car”.

      • 0 avatar
        EX35

        How does the stinger compare with the ‘18 mustang and camaro? I’ve driven both of those, and while a bit punishing, I thought the alpha chassis was particularly impressive.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Many reviewers have stated that the G70 is what the 3 Series (E46) used to be.

      Such as this Throttle House review of the 2.0T AT (Holland races BMWs.)

      Problem is (like for the ATS and XE), the G70 hues to closely to the E46 in size so is cramped compared to a lot of the competition today (including the upcoming G20).

      In comparison to the G70, the Stinger is more softly sprung (tuned to be a Grand Tourer and not a sports sedan).

      Here’s a track comparison of the Stinger GT and Mustang GT even tho the Stinger is not meant to be a track car (Kia will need to upgrade certain components for that).

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    So it sounds like German designer + Korean company = the spiritual successor to Pontiac?

  • avatar
    conundrum

    It’s one thing to look at pretty pictures, even to sit in one of these and get all excited. That was me and the Genesis G70 2.0t Elite, same car underneath with special short wheelbase and tiny back seat. Then I drove it.

    Tire roar was all I heard, very intrusive. The run-flat tires wanted to tramline on and off the road’s crown, and if there was any sport to be found, I couldn’t find it. The automatic seemed to not know what to do after a full-throttle run of a few seconds. When I backed off, it remained in the low gear it was in, so there was a whump and feeling of abrupt slow down before the transmission finally shifted to a higher gear. Buddy with a Sonata says his does the same – must be a Hyundai feature, what with a different engine and transverse FWD. If so, why?

    There’s anticipation and then there’s reality. Nicely made the G70, though, got to give it that. Now if they added some sound insulation to reduce tire noise in an otherwise quiet car, ladled in some eagerness you might expect in a “sports” sedan, Hyundai would have something here. But the G70 2.0t a dull old thing unless you decide to wring its neck, and there’s only so much fun in that. The Germans feel much more eager and alert even at city speeds.

    Always drive a car before getting rapturous about it. I tried to do that, following the huge disappointment when I actually drove the languid FR=S econobox. But, people tend to look on the bright side of life until reality sinks in.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    It’s one thing to look at pretty pictures, even to sit in one of these and get all excited. That was me and the Genesis G70 2.0t Elite, same car underneath with special short wheelbase and tiny back seat. Then I drove it.

    Tire roar was all I heard, very intrusive. The run-flat tires wanted to tramline on and off the road’s crown, and if there was any sport to be found, I couldn’t find it. The automatic seemed to not know what to do after a full-throttle run of a few seconds. When I backed off, it remained in the low gear it was in, so there was a whump and feeling of abrupt slow down before the transmission finally shifted to a higher gear. Buddy with a Sonata says his does the same – must be a Hyundai feature, what with a different engine and transverse FWD. If so, why?

    There’s anticipation and then there’s reality. Nicely made the G70, though, got to give it that. Now if they added some sound insulation to reduce tire noise in an otherwise quiet car, ladled in some eagerness you might expect in a “sports” sedan, Hyundai would have something here. But the G70 2.0t a dull old thing unless you decide to wring its neck, and there’s only so much fun in that. The Germans feel much more eager and alert even at city speeds.

    Always drive a car before getting rapturous about it. I tried to do that, following the huge disappointment when I actually drove the languid FR=S econobox. But, people tend to look on the bright side of life until reality sinks in.

    • 0 avatar
      sgtjmack

      Oh, the disappointment that is the Genesis. Sort of like seeing a hot ass chick from behind, then she turns around and she is beautiful, you take her home and she’s a dead fish in the sack. Well, at least your friends saw you two leave together.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Odd b/c the G70 doesn’t come OEM-equipped w/ run flats.

      One owner (who switched from a 2016 C300) stated that his G70 transmitted less road noise, primarily b/c didn’t have run flats which were on his Mercedes.

      AoA gave the 3.3T G70 an A+ for ride (and that’s for a G70 w/o the standard and not the adaptive suspension).

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Yeah nobody in the states has done a comprehensive G70 review yet but all the previews showed the honest to god spare in the trunk.

        One of the Canadian reviewers drove a G70 Sport manual and talked about how much it reminded him of his 3-series (I don’t remember which model/generation but one of the ones that BMW fanboys worship.)

  • avatar
    backtees

    First I love the looks of the car plus love the hatchback much like the new regal. Still smarting over family veto of accord crosstour a awhile back as I thought is was a perfect cross over. They thought it was ugly.

    My impressions of the stinger were recently certified as I was at a light of a high end country club here in jax with a parking lot full of BWW, jags, Benz, Porsche etc. A white stinger rolled out just behind a gs400 and looked right at home. BTW have seen several colors and that off Grey looked better than I thought. And yes, in 2020 one under $25l will be easy to find.

    • 0 avatar
      sgtjmack

      That is too bad, because the Accord Crosstour is a really nice driving car. Not as sporty as the Stinger, but very comfortable, even more than the Accord Sedan.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Kia is probably pretty pleased w/ sales of the GT (demand for the GT is stronger than they anticipated); the 2.0T, otoh, hasn’t exactly been running off the lots.

    The 2.0T getting replaced by the 2.5T (300 HP), however, should boost sales of the base engine trims.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Just too many things working against it for me. The Germans are faster and get better gas mileage while not being much smaller inside. It looks an awful lot like my ’13 Optima. And IIRC it has no LSD.

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