The 2019 Kia Stinger is an ambitious five-door hatchback, one that takes on luxury European cars with its teardrop shape and its lavish cockpit. With its most powerful engine, a twin-turbo V-6, it’s a screaming bargain compared to those rivals.
The Stinger is bigger than it appears, which is a testament to its styling. It’s 190.2 inches overall, with a 114.4-inch wheelbase.
There are two engines, a 255-horsepower turbo-4, and a twin-turbo V-6 with 365 horsepower. Using an 8-speed automatic transmission, it can accelerate from 0-60 mph in about 4.7 seconds, with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.
A rear-wheel-drive base Stinger with its 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is EPA-rated at 22 mpg city, 29 highway, 25 combined. With all-wheel drive it gets 1 less mpg.
The Stinger GT with its 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 gets 19/25/21 mpg with rear-wheel drive, and virtually the same with all-wheel drive.
The 2019 Stinger hasn’t been crash-tested yet. Automatic emergency braking isn’t available on the base Stinger or the base Stinger GT. It comes standard on other trim levels, along with adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights, and active lane control.
The base Stinger and Premium models use a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, while the GT, GT1 and GT2 use a V-6. Prices range from about $34,000 to more than $50,000.
Standard equipment in the base Stinger includes power features, power front seats, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, cruise control, shift paddles, 18-inch wheels, 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display, AM/FM/XM/HD radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth with audio streaming, and blind-spot monitors.
Every Stinger also gets a strong warranty for 5 years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage, and 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage.
The Premium adds a sunroof, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, digital gauges, LED headlights, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a 720-watt, 15-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. All-wheel drive is available.
The Stinger GT adds aluminum interior trim, three more speakers, and 19-inch wheels; rear-drive models get a limited-slip differential.
The GT1 gets digital gauges and LED turn signals. The GT2 adds a head-up display, Nappa leather, cooled front multi-adjustable seats, and a handsfree liftgate. Its price can top $50,000.
Options include wireless smartphone charging, heated rear seats, a surround-view camera system, and head-up display.
Forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking come standard on Premium, GT1, and GT2 models, but aren’t offered on the base and GT models.
The Stinger’s sleek, chiseled sheetmetal triggers memories of classic grand touring sports cars. The ducts, creases, scoops and spoilers exaggerate that homage.
Its front overhang, long hood, and soaring roofline give it proportions that only a rear-wheel-drive car can create. Fastbacks are the new luxury shape, and the Stinger does it right.
The cabin is polished and well trimmed, with only a few spots of plastic; it’s also quiet and soothing, while being more suave and subtle about achieving the same retro GT look as the exterior. The metal trim on the wing-shaped dash is a nice touch, and the big gauges are ringed in metal, and there’s a thick leather-wrapped steering wheel. A color screen has an infotainment interface that well; it can be configured to display performance data like cornering G-forces and lap times.
There’s ample room in front, while the base leather seats are supportive and comfortable, with 12-way adjustment and four-way lumbar for the driver. On the top models, with available Nappa leather, there is 16-way adjustment, heating and cooling, as well as lumbar support.
There’s good legroom but not-so good headroom in the rear, thanks to the fastback roofline. However the fastback hatchback design creates more cargo space than in a sedan: 23.3 cubic feet behind the second row, or 40.9 cubic feet behind the front seats.
The 2.0-liter turbo-4 makes 255 horsepower, which is bit less than rivals, but it’s a fine base engine.
We’ve gotten more seat time in the Stinger GT with its 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6–hundreds of miles, in fact. We love its smooth rush, from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds. The engine emits a refined howl as the GT slings toward the next curve. The power is especially strong at low rpm, and the 8-speed automatic clicks off smooth and decisive shifts in Sport mode.
The chassis is made of high-strength steel, while the suspension uses struts in front and five links in rear. The GT gets adjustable dampers, very capable Brembo brakes with 13.8-inch front and 13.4-inch rear rotors, and staggered 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, 225/40s up front and 255/35s out back.
The Stinger has four drive modes that adjust the throttle response, transmission, all-wheel-drive, stability control, and damping. They are Eco, Smart (which learns your behavior), configurable Custom, and Sport. Even with the dampers set on Sport, the GT rides well. Sport doesn’t make the throttle too touchy for the street, but it does hold gears longer.
The suspension is tuned on the soft side for the street, where it delivers a beautifully composed ride. And the steering is quick enough to be fun on the street. The limited-slip differential on GT models is a blessing.
On the track, the handling is wonderfully neutral, with a balanced feel that allows experienced drivers to steer with the throttle. Serious track-day drivers will go for a designated set of fatter and grippier tires. Because of the tires, even in Sport mode, the electronic stability control intervenes too soon for much fun on the track.
The 2019 Kia Stinger has striking styling, a stylish cabin, and strong powertrain with the V-6. The ride is supple and handling good enough for its mission. And with all-wheel drive and a great cargo capacity, it’s versatile. It’s well worth looking at, almost no matter what kind of car you’re in the market for.