Hatchbacks

2018 Kia Stinger GT joins Roadshow's long-term test fleet

We invite our 2018 Vehicle of the Year winner home for an extended test.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

"If there's a more audacious new car this year from a major automaker, we have yet to drive it." That's Roadshow reviews editor Jon Wong talking about the new Kia Stinger, the car that won Vehicle of the Year in our 2018 Shift Awards.

Indeed, the Stinger is one of the most talked-about cars in the industry right now. We've had the opportunity to drive it both at home and abroad, but a car this important -- and this heavily discussed -- is absolutely worthy of an extended test. That's why we've added a 2018 Stinger GT to our long-term fleet.

Our fully loaded Stinger GT2 AWD stickers for $52,300, including $900 for destination. 

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

How we spec'd it

Kia offers the Stinger with two engines across five different trim levels, and for our long-term test, we're going all-in. That means our test car is a Stinger GT2 with all-wheel drive, an all-inclusive trim that stickers for $52,300 including $900 for destination.

All GT-trim Stingers come with the same powertrain: a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 with 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available on every version of the Stinger for an additional $2,200, and while we love the idea of spending a year with a rear-wheel-drive car, this thing will probably end up doing winter duty in Detroit, where all-wheel-drive will be super-duper helpful.

Picking the top-level GT2 means we get the full smattering of premium amenities. Our car has heated and cooled Nappa leather seats, a heated steering wheel, LED headlights, a sunroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power liftgate, upgraded Brembo brakes, 19-inch wheels on summer tires and more.

A two-tone red/black interior is available with the HiChroma Red exterior, but this all-black setup is still plenty lovely.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

On the technology front, the GT2 is similarly rich with features. Front and center in the cabin, an 8-inch touchscreen display houses a full suite of infotainment tech, including built-in navigation, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. There's also a head-up display, and an LCD display inside the gauge cluster controls myriad adjustable vehicle settings.

Driver assistance systems are in similarly high supply, the GT2 packed with adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic collision warning and more. Here's hoping we don't have to test that last one.

All that's left to do on a Stinger GT2 is pick your color. And while we adore the vibrant Micro Blue Pearl and slick Ceramic Silver, we decided to go for the endlessly photogenic HiChroma Red with the full-black interior.

Our Stinger GT's twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 produces 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Initial impressions

The Stinger arrived in Los Angeles in late February, and after a couple weeks with yours truly, was handed off to news and features editor Kyle Hyatt. Between the two of us, we've put about 1,500 miles on the Stinger so far.

Straight away, we're big fans of the Stinger's cabin, though we regret to note that, with only 3,000 miles on the odometer, there's already a pronounced rattle coming from somewhere in the back (Kyle says he's determined to find it). Otherwise, things are mostly peachy-keen inside the Stinger. "Interior finishes are lovely," Kyle writes. "Everything you touch is nice and well thought out."

I concur, there's a lot to like here, both in terms of comfort and personalization. The seats are great, and super supportive. And we both enjoy the configurable aspects of various systems. You can change the head-up display colors, the entry-exit chime and even adjust the number of times the turn signals will flash during one-touch lane-change signaling.

It may exhibit a few weaknesses on tight canyon roads, but we never get tired of daily-driving the Stinger.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

That said, the low-slung shape creates a few issues. "Long-torso-having drivers may suffer from a lack of headroom, would love to see the driver's seat adjust down further," notes the decidedly tall Kyle Hyatt. I can't say I have similar issues, at 5 feet, 8 inches, but I do agree with my colleague with another big issue: visibility.

"Visibility sucks, rearview camera helps. Side cameras would be wonderful. Blind-spot detection is a life-saver," Kyle writes. It's worth mentioning that Kia will offer a 360-degree camera -- as well as wireless phone charging and heated rear seats -- on the new, special edition Stinger Atlantica.

We both like the powertrain, the twin-turbo engine providing tons of thrust with a robust exhaust note. This is a car that eats up highway miles with aplomb, as we've seen on a couple road trips thus far. It's an absolutely exceptional grand tourer.

But after a couple of spirited runs through Southern California canyons, we have a few quibbles.

We're pretty excited to spend a full year with this one.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

"Needs more sway bar, particularly in the rear, and could use a stiffer sport suspension setting. Car bounces mid-corner and is very easy to upset," Kyle notes. But on the other hand, "Comfort mode is great, even on crappy LA roads."

We both find the upgraded Brembo brakes to be fine most of the time, but they heat up rather quickly. It makes us question the possibility of overall brake fade if used aggressively for extended periods of time -- something we'll have to test in the coming months.

Still, as a daily driver, the Stinger is exceptional. It's powerful and poised, and is genuinely enjoyable to toss around on back roads. We never get tired of driving it. Ever.

Good thing, as we've still got 11 more months of Stinger life to enjoy. Stay tuned for its proper video introduction, and a whole lot more in the way of notes, tests and maybe even a comparison test or two. Be sure to follow along on Roadshow's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds for even more on-the-fly impressions.