One of the auto industry’s biggest surprises this year has been the 2018 Kia Stinger. Kia has been working for years on how to expand upon its value-oriented market positioning, and the Stinger should be a great way to help change customer perceptions. The rear- or all-wheel drive five-door grand tourer carries either a 255-horsepower four-cylinder or a hearty 365-hp 3.3-liter V6. It also packs a ton of content and room into a pretty slick wrapper.
Kia has been nothing short of ambitious, inviting the media to compare its Stinger with far costlier European models from Audi, BMW, Lexus and even Porsche. Remarkably, it fares well by the numbers, but lacks some of the interior refinement and brand cachet of those cars. However, it’s still plenty nice, and it’s also worlds cheaper, starting at $31,900 and topping out in the mid-$50,000 range for a loaded GT2. With sharp handling, surprising cargo space and easy-to-use cabin tech, we honored the Stinger with our 2018 Roadshow Shift Vehicle of the Year Award.
When it came time to spec our long-term 2018 Kia Stinger GT, we went back and forth about whether we should test the standard, rear-wheel-drive setup, or shell out $2,200 for the optional four-season friendliness of all-wheel drive. After a trip home for the holidays, which took me from San Francisco, California, up and over the Rocky Mountains to Boulder, Colorado, I'm glad we opted for the latter.
Before leaving California, we swapped the Stinger GT's Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires for a set of Michelin Pilot Aplin winter rubbers. All-wheel drive is a nice thing to have in snowy, slushy, slick weather, but none of that matters if your car isn't fitted with the proper tires.
Bad weather hit as soon as I entered Colorado on I-70, electronic warning signs alerting truckers to put on tire chains, lest they face a $650 fine for blocking the road. Another sign simply said, "You are responsible for your own traction." Words of wisdom, indeed.
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