2018 Kia Stinger with Twin Turbo V6 Harks Back to Those Muscle Car Days

2018 Kia Stinger GT2 looks even better when in motion. All photos by Matt Coker

I wanted to know how to describe the 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 V6 AWD for you, so I turned to Mr. Google.

Perplexed over what to type in the search engine (Sedan? Sports car? Mid-life crisis?), I thought about my driving experience and all I could come up with was “muscle car.”

So that’s what I typed in and, swear to Carfax, the first item that popped up was not a GTO, Mustang or Charger from my youth but a link to a new Kia Stinger for sale.

Nailed it! 

The back hatch when opened resembles a gulf-wing door. 

The Google listing is amazing considering the South Korean automaker has only had the mid-size, four-door fastback in production since 2017.

It probably did not enter the public consciousness until that Super Bowl commercial from last February, when Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler drives a Stinger in reverse on an oval track to become 40 years younger. (By the way, I tried that in my driveway and it did not work.)

The racy lines, menacing grill, sporty wheels wrapped in 19-inch summer tires and, especially, the dual exhausts hinted at what was to come when I first fired up the 3.3-liter, twin-turbo V6 engine.

I wish I could spell that sound for you. Whoooompfff? Anyway, it’s a hum that tells you, “This baby could get me in trouble … but I’ll have a helluva time getting there.”

You talkin’ to me?

Sound is one thing. Performance is key, and my twin turbo V6 Silky Silver test ride lived up to the looks and noise when I gunned it on straightaways. (It practically forces you to, officer!) 

The eight-speed automatic transmission is smooth but, again, you are practically forced into using the paddle shifters to be, as the Seinfeld gang put it, the master of your domain. More often than not, this is done in the Sport drive mode, although you also have the option of Eco, Smart, Comfort and Custom.

Naturally, I ignored those in favor of the Sport when taking curves at speeds that thankfully were not picked up by po-po radar guns. After taking these with ease, it was as if the front of the Stinger pulled around to face me and ask, “Is that all you’ve got?”

The all-wheel-drive sedan relies on Dynamic Torque Vectoring that independently distributes torque to the left or right rear wheels depending on the driving condition. Electronically controlled suspension adapts the suspension to the driving condition.

Red leather interior and vent and gauge shapes pick up the sporty look outside. 

One area where the look of the exterior did not match expectations was inside the Stinger, and by that I mean it is much roomier than I thought it would be. 

Comfortable, too. The front bucket seats in Nappa leather are soft and cushion-y while also wrapping around your frame to give a sense of security. Both front seats are power adjustable and can be heated or ventilated. Memory settings are available for the driver.

The red interior color package, which was listed on the sticker as “additional installed equipment” included in the sales price, maintains the sporty theme of the exterior, as do the arrangements of the sport gauges, circular vents and chrome speaker covers and the LCD instrument cluster, which are enhanced by multi-color LED mood lighting. This car needs to get a room! 

The power sunroof helps enhance the feeling of openness and, when it comes to the exterior, I like the way the designers have used its curvature to counter balance the rear window bending over the fastback. Both sets of glass have dark tents.

Ready to rumble.

The rear hatch that window is attached to is operated with “smart power,” meaning you can open it with a button on the dash or your key fob, and close it with a button on the hatch frame. 

By the way, nothing previously mentioned on my 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 V6 AWD came at an extra cost. Nor did such things as the heated steering wheel; smart cruise control with stop and go; Harman Kardon premium audio system; SiriusXM satellite radio (with a three-month subscription included); and the navigation system with eight-inch touchscreen and rear camera.

When you are driving hell on wheels, you want to know you are safe, and with this one Kia includes: a head-up display; Driver Attention Warning; blind spot collision warning; rear cross-traffic collision warning; lane keep and departure warning system; and forward collision avoidance and warning system.

There are dual front advanced airbags and a driver’s knee airbag; dual front seat mounted side airbags; full length side curtain airbags; and Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH).

Any of you speed boats wanna race?

A tire pressure monitoring system, automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers and Brembo Performance Brakes with electronic parking brake are also included in the total cost, as are the LED headlights with low beam dynamic assist, which means the  headlamps steer automatically to the left or the right together with the steering wheel, improving visibility and reducing blind spots. If sensors determine there are no oncoming cars in front of you, high-beam assist automatically engages the high beams and then dims them when another vehicle comes into sight. 

Government 5-Star Safety Ratings were not available on my test ride, but the Environmental Protection Agency rates it at 21 miles to the gallon combined (19 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway) with $2,000 in annual fuel costs that has you spending $3,250 more over five years than you do with the average new vehicle. The EPA fuel economy and greenhouse gas rating is a four on a 1-10 scale (10 being best), and the smog rating is a three. Just bicycle on weekends to reduce your carbon tireprint.

Kia offers a 10-year, 100,000-mile (whichever comes first) warranty on the powertrain, and five years or 60,000 miles for the limited basic warranty and roadside assistance.

So where did my test Stinger come in? The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price is $51,400 (or $52,300 with the $900 inland freight and handling fee). As far as Ride Me vehicles go, that puts it on the pricier side, although it’s a deal when compared to the German sedans the Stinger is gunning for. 

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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