With sleek styling and affordable pricing, the 2019 Kia Stinger is unlike most other sports sedans on the market. Its hatchback design creates a roomy interior and imbues it with spacious cargo-carrying ability. The Stinger checks several important boxes for a car in this segment, with a punchy turbocharged four-cylinder engine or a powerhouse twin-turbo V-6 coupled to either rear- or all-wheel drive. While this self-professed BMW 3-series fighter may lack the refinement and composure near its handling limits that make certain other cars in the entry-luxury class so excellent, it does offer plenty of power, serious quickness, and an unusual but entirely pleasing exterior design—and all at a hugely attractive price. It's a social climber in the best possible sense.
What's New for 2019?
Kia keeps the Stinger's updates to a minimum for 2019 by simply adding new standard features and reshuffling equipment. The entry-level model adds standard 18-inch wheels as well as a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert. The Sun and Sound package, which brings a sunroof, premium audio system, larger touchscreen, and LED headlights, is now available on the base model, too. The rear-drive GT (the GT models have the twin-turbo V-6) receives a standard limited-slip differential for improved traction. Wireless charging and ventilated front seats are now included on every Premium and GT1. Finally, every Stinger GT2 comes with a 360-degree camera and heated rear seats. The Stinger GTS–which features a tire-abusing drift mode–will join the lineup in 2020.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- 2.0L: $33,895
- 2.0L Premium: $40,095
- GT: $40,095
- GT1: $46,095
- GT2: $50,985
The Stinger's entry-level four-cylinder model would represent a compelling mix of features and value for most drivers, but as enthusiasts, we'll pin our fortunes to the Stinger GT. That model comes with the 365-hp twin-turbo V-6 and several premium features, including Brembo brakes, 19-inch wheels with high-performance summer tires, and variable-ratio steering. Stepping up to the GT1 trim adds a larger infotainment system with navigation, adaptive dampers, a 15-speaker audio system, and memory settings for the driver's seat, among other features. However, that version is too pricey for our blood. Adding all-wheel drive to any Stinger tacks on an extra $2200.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Likes: Excellent V-6 powertrain, every Stinger is fun to fling around, GT models have tremendous grip and great brakes.
Dislikes: Less composed at the limit than premier rivals, four-cylinder models need more stopping power.
The 2019 Stinger has two available engines, both of which can be had with either rear- or all-wheel drive. The entry-level 2.0-liter powertrain does an adequate job relative to its rivals, but the powerful twin-turbo V-6 delivers scintillating performance that gets our enthusiast blood pumping. The eight-speed automatic that comes in every Stinger was lightning quick and mostly well calibrated when left to shift for itself. We wish the paddle shifters offered sharper responses to driver inputs, however. Still, for drivers in single-minded pursuit of straight-line speed, the Stinger GT does not disappoint.
The Stinger has mastered straight-line speed and returned solid numbers during our track testing. It comports itself well in normal driving, but when pushed to the limit, it couldn't quite match the composure of its more established competition. Likewise, we identified some protestations from the rear suspension—an unnerving side step when cornering hard on a humpy road—while some fore-and-aft pitching accompanied our all-out acceleration and braking runs. All GTs feature powerful Brembo brakes, which provided quick stops by any measure and fit in nicely within this class of high-performing sedans. Without the Brembos and rolling on less grippy all-season tires, a four-cylinder Stinger was not impressive—in this class or any other.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Whether you're looking at the four-cylinder or the V-6, the Stinger is less efficient than similarly equipped competitors. The EPA's fuel-economy ratings for each of the Stinger's engines fall below those of comparable rivals, but the V-6 outperformed its ratings on our real-world test, and there is virtually no fuel-economy penalty for choosing all-wheel drive. So far, only V-6–powered Stingers have made a trip on our highway test circuit. Both rear- and all-wheel-drive models outperformed their EPA ratings by a slight margin during our real-world test.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: Spacious cabin, standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, practical packaging.
Dislikes: Less than posh interior, smaller touchscreen bezels look cheap, some rivals held more luggage.
The Stinger's interior is well designed and attractive, but it can't match the Audi A4 or the BMW 3-series for material quality or construction. Then again, the Kia costs considerably less than those two German sedans. The Stinger does, however, offer a significantly more comfortable rear seat than many cars in this class—and its advantage feels greater than its numbers would suggest. While the Stinger's interior is free of glaring errors and omissions, the overall effect is less polished than the efforts we've enjoyed from established luxury brands.
Kia's infotainment system—called UVO—is used to good effect in the Stinger and consists of a touchscreen mixed with useful physical buttons. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but the touchscreen's response times were less than urgent, and we wish there were another USB port in the front row.
The Stinger's stated trunk volume would predict that it has by far the most cargo space in this set, but it only bested its rivals by a small margin in our real-world cargo tests. With its wide hatchback opening and long wheelbase, we'd hoped the Stinger would do even better in these measurements. Its center console is on the large side for a car, which helps to compensate for the fact that the front-door pockets are the smallest of this bunch.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Stinger has not yet been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Otherwise, the Stinger has nearly every driver assist we track available as an option, but self-parking and automated rear braking aren't on the menu. Key safety features include:
- Standard blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert
- Available forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Kia's long powertrain warranty is practically legendary, and it easily outdoes every other car in this set for length of coverage. Unlike many of its premium-branded rivals, the Stinger offers no complimentary maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance