2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD Review - Keep It Within the Limit

Fast Facts

2018 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD

3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (365 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 376 lb-ft @ 1,300-4,500 rpm)
Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
19 city / 25 highway / 25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
12.7 city, 9.6 highway, 11.3 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$51,400 (U.S) / $49,995 (Canada)
As Tested
$52,300 (U.S.) / $51,980 (Canada)
Prices include $900 destination charge in the United States and $1,885 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2018 kia stinger gt2 awd review keep it within the limit

That headline has two meanings, at least as pertains to the 2018 Stinger.

One meaning: Watch your right foot. It’s easy to quickly get this car above the speed limit.

Meaning number two: When I first drove the Stinger, I harped about its tendency for greater than desired body roll in corners. Well, that tendency doesn’t show up in urban commuting, because I wasn’t driving the car the way I did in the California mountains during its launch.

Drive it a little less hard, and its biggest flaw stays hidden. Problem solved.

Not only that, it goes from being a good (but not great) hatchback grand-touring car to an excellent sporty commuter hatch.

Not that the buying public has noticed – just under 19,000 Stingers have found a home since its launch in late 2017. That’s too bad, because while the Stinger isn’t cheap (at least not in GT2 AWD guise), it’s very good.

Acceleration is addictive, thanks to the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 underhood that makes 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. That’s true whether in Sport mode or not – you’ll be deep in the throttle each chance you get. And not just for the rush, but for the noise. The car sounds fantastic.

The MacPherson setup in front and five-point multilink suspension out back help make the car a strong handler. As noted above, body roll can be an issue when the car is truly pushed, but in typical suburban commuting, it doesn’t rear its head. The Stinger is stable and planted, and the steering feels well weighted with appropriate accuracy.

As to be expected, Sport mode tightens the car up and is the preferred mode for aggressive driving.

All this is done without sacrificing freeway ride. Long freeway jaunts are comfortable in this car, as one might expect from a grand touring hatchback. Quiet, too – unless you gun the gas to hear the lovely exhaust note, engine noise fades into the background.

As I mentioned in my first drive, the interior is very pretty, save for the tacked-on infotainment screen that mars an otherwise artful design. Why automakers continue to ruin otherwise strong designs is beyond me.

At least nothing truly mars the exterior’s sleek look. Kia keeps it mostly simple here, with just a couple vents atop the hood to clutter things up. The roofline slopes neatly into the rear, with gentle-enough lines that you don’t even realize the car is a hatch.

Opt for the GT2 AWD trim, and the price is a bit dear at a tick over $50K. That said, you do get a lot of content. Not to mention options are limited to small accessory-type things, like ashtrays and such, and a no-cost all-season tire package with 18-inch wheels.

Content including Brembo brakes, 19-inch wheels with summer tires, heated and cooled front seats, leather seats, dual-zone climate control, heated steering wheel, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, navigation, premium audio, satellite radio, head-up display, forward-collision avoidance and warning system, smart cruise control, lane-keep and departure warning system, driver-attention warning, blind-spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic collision warning, power sunroof, LED headlamps, power trunk (yes, I know it’s a hatch – this is what the Monroney says), and auto-sensing windshield wipers.

Carpeted floor mats and a red leather interior were added at no charge.

Fuel economy is listed at a relatively respectable 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway/21 mpg combined – not bad for a large car with twin turbos and the weight of all-wheel drive.

I don’t know exactly why the Stinger isn’t selling, but I have my thoughts. One is that the segment itself is mostly dead, thanks at least in part to the crossover craze. Another is that Americans still don’t trust Kia to come up with a truly excellent grand tourer.

Those two things may be true, but that’s unfortunate – the Stinger is a mostly excellent package that’s being overlooked due to external factors. Ask Chevrolet how that worked out with the SS.

If I had the means, the Stinger would be on the shopping list. It’s too bad it isn’t on more.

[Images © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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2 of 39 comments
  • Wstansfi Wstansfi on Mar 31, 2019

    I drove the GT (Canadian market) and it seemed very lively. It drove smaller than it is, partly from excellent steering. I attributed the lively character to the engine - terrific - and a relatively aggressive throttle map, even in comfort. The back seat has way more leg room than the G70 or the 3 series or the A4/5 or the C-class. This car is not really in that size class. I’m 6’2” and have little people that have to be transported... we compared all the interior room at a recent auto show and although we liked the stinger go, it’s not quite big enough to be our family car. I don’t know where they are getting the numbers for cargo space, but it seemed smaller than our current 12 cubic feet of Acura trunk space, and for sure it is not more space than a Volvo V60 wagon... I have driven a bunch of 4000 lb cars lately, and there is nothing this fun with this much space with this many features for this price. Only our current need for more cargo space kept me from making the purchase.

  • Still thinkin Still thinkin on Jul 23, 2019

    I wonder if the dealer experience is holding back some sales? I haven't experienced great things from my local dealership (I'll admit its been a few years) But I expect that's keeping some people from experiencing how good this car is.

  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
  • Car65688392 thankyou for the information
  • Car65688392 Thankyou for your valuable information
  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.