Category Archives: Insight Articles

Three-Row SUVs Compared: Explorer, Telluride, Palisade, Enclave, and CX-9

Hey, you. Yes, you. Don’t pretend you just noticed something on the back of your hand or that your phone is buzzing in your pocket. We’re talking to you. You who couldn’t get enough of procreating and now need three rows of seating in a vehicle. We know you well enough to know that you don’t want a minivan and that only a two-box crossover will do. Lucky for you, carmakers are swiping right on you, which explains the flood of new three-row products tailored for your life. There’s so much churn in the class right now that, for most of our testers, this is our first exposure to three of these models.

Most promising is the Ford Explorer. It might look like a malnourished example of the last-generation model, all vacuum-packed bulge split by bone lines, but it’s so new that the engine is facing a different direction, and if you don’t opt for all-wheel drive, the torque goes only to the rear wheels. Ford’s turbo­charged 2.3-liter inline-four is on duty and has 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque turning the Ford/GM co-developed 10-speed automatic. The XLT is the lowliest Explorer trim, and this one packs all-wheel drive (a $2000 upcharge), 20-inch wheels ($1295), Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Assist+ suite ($795), and a towing package ($710), for a grand total of $46,810.


Hyundai and Kia have built three-row crossovers before, even big ones, but who besides us remembers the Veracruz and the Borrego? The Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are the first big Korean crossovers poised to make a real mark on the segment. They share a lot, including their 291-hp V-6, eight-speed automatic transmission, and platform. Both have a 114.2-inch wheelbase, the test’s shortest, but somehow the second-row seats are among the roomiest. At our $48,000 price target, you get a Palisade Limited with all-wheel drive, which means its window sticker abounds with standard equipment, from a pair of sunroofs to lane-keeping assistance to auto-leveling rear dampers. Toss in $160 for floor mats and this Palisade is a $47,655 proposition.

The Telluride’s top trim level, SX, also includes stuff like the two sunroofs and the second-row captain’s chairs, but it caters to a slightly more frugal buyer by leaving off a few extras. This one, of course, added them in with the $2000 SX Prestige package. Fully loaded, our Telluride came with ventilated second-row seats, richer leather, and a fake-suede headliner, among other goodies, for a final tally of $46,910.

Buick’s second-gen Enclave is two years old, which makes it a slightly familiar member of the group. It remains related to the Chevy Traverse and is built on the same long version of the C1 platform. GM’s corporate 3.6-liter V-6 makes 310 horses here and a nine-speed transaxle does the shifting. Our Essence-trim example is one step up from Buick’s base model, and all-wheel drive adds $2000 to the chit. Spending an additional $1695 for the Sport Touring package nets 20-inch machined-face aluminum wheels and a unique grille. Powered front and fixed rear sunroofs cost $1400, while the $495 black paint and $270 set of floor mats land this Enclave at $49,055, the highest price in the test.


The Mazda CX-9 is the known quantity here, having been atop this hill for three 10Best awards as well as through two comparison tests in which it vanquished the Chevy Traverse, Honda Pilot, Subaru Ascent, and Volkswagen Atlas. Mazda isn’t messing with success. The big news for the CX-9 this year is more standard equipment and available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. Mazda’s 250-hp turbo­charged four-cylinder and six-speed automatic are unchanged. Our Signature test vehicle stands at the top of the CX-9 mountain and includes all of Mazda’s juiciest equipment—adaptive cruise, keyless entry and start, and the brand’s G-Vectoring Control steering-feel-boosting system. Special paint, a cargo mat, and illuminated sill plates add $975 to the bottom line, bringing our Mazda to $47,385.

To see how the Mazda measures up against its latest competitors, we steered north to family-friendly Petos­key and then into the Upper Peninsula for the winding roads along Lake Michigan—which does, technically, experience semidiurnal water-level changes. Here we learned that the tide in this segment is indeed turning.


On Alberta’s Icefields Parkway, the Kia Telluride stands out from bevy of big SUVs

The last time I drove through the Rockies with my mom, it was 1984, and we were sardined into my grandpa’s Buick Century with my grandparents, my dad and my six-year-old brother.

We drove from Edmonton to Vancouver in July. Without air conditioning. There was squabbling.

“That was terrible – this is definitely a much better trip than that one,” said my mom, Rose, as we drove a 2020 Kia Telluride along the Ice Fields Parkway from Jasper to Lake Louise. “You guys would probably still have fought in this, but the rest of us would have been more comfortable.”

To test the three-row SUV, Kia asked journalists to bring along a family member – the Telluride’s tag line is “built for the modern family“ – for a 750-km-plus drive from Edmonton to Jasper, along the parkway to Lake Louise and then to Calgary.

Since that scarring eighties trip, minivans surged in popularity for a while (my mom went on to a series of them until switching from a Honda Odyssey to an easier-to-handle RAV4) but now we’re seeing the rise of the big three-row SUV. Companies that weren’t typically known for family haulers, such as BMW, Subaru and Volkswagen, have all been going bigger and bigger.

“A lot of people buy a large vehicle like this for the premium aspect – as a status symbol – but the Telluride is more specifically targeted to families,” said Marc Keller, the Telluride’s product planner.

The Telluride is equipped with knobs for climate control and navigation and a standard 10.25-inch touchscreen.

So, Kia’s marketing focuses on space – 20 centimetres longer than Kia’s Sorrento, the Telluride seats eight (seven with the second-row captain’s seats in the top SX Limited trim), can fit three child seats and has more cargo space (601 litres) with the third-row seats up than its main competitors (the Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer). It also focuses on anti-squabbling tech features such as seven USB ports, ceiling-mounted rear-seat climate controls to keep kids from reaching the buttons and a one-way intercom to the third seat (“Mom and dad can stay focused on the road while screaming to the kids not to touch each other,” Keller said).

“The role of the Telluride in the lineup is to be ‘not a minivan,’” said Robert Karwel, senior manager of the Power Information Network at J.D. Power Canada. “It allows Kia to keep people in the fold instead of having them cross-shop another brand because they believe other vehicles offer more size, space and flexibility.”

Kia initially hoped to sell 2,000 Tellurides in the first year, but in the first three weeks, they’ve already sold 438.

Unlike that crowded eighties trip, this time it was mostly only the two of us – we drove with another journalist from Edmonton to Jasper. We briefly considered finding four more people to replicate the experience. But even just with two, the Telluride didn’t feel like too much vehicle, unlike some bigger SUVs.

“I’m surprised. I was worried about driving this, but it doesn’t feel big like my van did,” said my mom, 72, who took a quick turn at the wheel. “We could have used something like this years ago. But, for that trip, we probably should have just flown.”

Tech specs

  • Price/as tested: $44,995-$53,995/ $49,995)
  • Engine: 3.8-litre Atkinson-cycle V-6
  • Transmission/Drive: Eight-speed automatic/all-wheel
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.5 city/9.6 highway
  • Alternatives: Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, Kia Sorrento, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, Volkswagen Atlas


The 2020 Kia Telluride might not turn heads, but some features make it stand out from a large pack of big SUVs.

It’s boxy and rugged – more truck-like, especially from the front and back, than other Kias – but it’s still classy. It might not turn heads, but subtle details, such as the chrome that creeps up the side of the B-pillar and the orange daytime running lights, helped it stand out a little from the bevy of big SUVs on Alberta roads.


On winding mountain roads, the Telluride was perfectly fine – and that’s a compliment. It drives more like a car than some big SUVs. Handling was sharp for a three-row vehicle. The 291-horsepower V-6 – there are no plans to add the Stinger’s twin-turbo V-6, although Kia said anything is possible – didn’t wow with breakneck acceleration, but it delivered plenty of power for passing. The ride was comfortable, but not too cushy. It tows 5,000 pounds. Thanks to the Atkinson-cycle engine, highway fuel economy is slightly better than Kia’s smaller Sorrento, but it’s still similar to its main rivals. Mazda’s less roomy CX-9 is more fun to drive.


It’s tough to find much to complain about inside. It’s not dripping with luxury and doesn’t wow with style, but it still feels like a pricier vehicle. Controls are simple and intuitive. There are knobs for climate control and navigation and a standard 10.25-inch touchscreen. A minor gripe? The labels on a strip of controls for the infotainment system are tough to see, but you’ll probably just be using the touchscreen. The back doors open wide for easy access. There’s plenty of room in the second row, and the third row is comfortable for two real-sized adults. Access to the third row is easy with push buttons at both the top and bottom of the seat on each side.


The well-equipped base Telluride EX ($44,995) comes standard with navigation, CarPlay and Android Auto and the full gamut of safety tech. The $49,995 SX adds a monitor next to the speedometer that shows your blind spot when you signal to turn. Another feature locks the child locks if you’re trying to get out of the rear and a vehicle is coming. And there’s plenty of other tech to play with. That one-way intercom (some others, like Honda, offer something similar) sounds a little echoey in the third row. And, you have to turn it on from the touch screen, which could be distracting while driving. Another feature lets you mute just the second- and third-row rear speakers if the kids fall asleep. The top trim, the $53,995 SX premium, adds a heads-up display.


The Telluride has plenty of room in the second row, and the third row is comfortable for two adults.

With the third row up, we fit in three carry-on-sized bags. With seats down, it’s similar to key competitors. The seats fold down easily.

The verdict: 8.

The Telluride has enough room, standard features and anti-squabbling tech to help minimize the chances of family feuds on most trips, whether they’re trips to Costco or to Colorado. Overall, you get plenty of bang for your buck – but there’s no turbo.

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

Kia Niro EV Comes With No Excuses: It’s The Most Important New EV

There are no more excuses as to whether or not to buy the Niro EV, but does Kia have excuses for low production?

Tony Schaefer from What Drives Us recently test drove the Kia Niro EV (e-Niro) over a week and considers the South Korean EV the most important new electric car on the market.

On one side, it’s unremarkable, there is nothing really exceptional or extraordinary – he explains – you just drive it, easy, intuitive, but it’s all-electric. It’s a full-size car and a 5-seater with decent cargo space and long range.

The Niro EV turns out to be able to go further on a charge than 235 miles (378 km) (EPA), as gentle non-winter range could be 270-290 miles (434-467 km)!

Combined with rich equipment, there are really no excuses to not buy the Kia Niro EV. Well, the first 40 were already delivered in the U.S. in April and now the ball is on Kia’s side, as we are wondering if the automaker has the production capacity to meet what’s sure to be high demand.

The cool features noted in the review include a tire pressure indicator for each individual tire, heated and ventilated seats, sun visor that expands, useful cup holder/storage compartment, Lane Keep Assist and a rewind satellite radio feature to listen to a particular song from the beginning.


2019 Kia Stinger

Source: MotorWeek
Date: February 08 2018
Author: N/A





MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards

MotorWeek’s 2018 “Best of the Year” Revealed: Kia Stinger

Announced at the Chicago Auto Show, nation’s largest consumer auto show

CHICAGO – The all-new Kia Stinger is MotorWeek’s 2018 Drivers’ Choice Award winner for “Best of the Year,” announced today in Chicago at the nation’s largest consumer automotive showcase. Over an unprecedented 37 years of bringing weekly automotive news to consumers, MotorWeek has evaluated thousands of distinctive cars, all potentially deserving of their “best of” moniker. Every year, the pressure is on to thin the herd to a handful and then to just one winner overall.
The Kia Stinger luxury-sport sedan aimed itself squarely at the compact European sport sedan segment – and with its design team based in Germany, there is little doubt that it earned its style points alongside traditional luxury-performance brands while also looking very different from other cars in the Kia stable.
“Dynamic in both design and quality, the Stinger is a superlative example of how to successfully break into the established European sport sedan market – no easy task – but the Stinger proves it has what it takes,” says MotorWeek creator and host John Davis. “Delivering on both style and drive, the Stinger is incredibly responsive with great power as well as solid handling and brakes. That’s why the Stinger won our staff’s vote in the “Best Sport Sedan” category, which then put it in the running for our ‘Best of the Year’ honor.”
By design, Kia engineers skipped the typical four-door sedan formula and went directly to the five-door coupe-roofed hatchback so popular outside of America. Then they added capable power from a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 for the top level Stinger GT, while base Stingers get a still-potent 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
“Kia knows it takes some splash to get noticed in the sport sedan segment, and they’ve delivered,” says Davis. “MotorWeek followers count on our awards to steer them towards the cars that are the most fun to drive – after all, that’s the point of our awards.”
In Stinger, the fast-roofed skin cloaks a finely-balanced, rear-drive chassis. Either of the two engine choices found under the long hood is paired with an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Both powertrains can also be fitted with all-wheel drive, a great benefit for buyers in the Midwest and Northeast especially.
“While the 2.0 is no slouch, the GT’s V6 powertrain really impressed us with its overall smoothness. Even the paddle shifters work with a quick precision we didn’t expect,” says Davis.
Starting at around $32,000 for the 2.0-liter and $40,000 for the GT, Kia has married good looks and a great drive with affordability.
All Drivers’ Choice Award winners are featured on, and will appear on a special episode (#3723) of MotorWeek airing on public television stations beginning February 10, and on cable’s Velocity beginning February 20. MotorWeek and the 2018 Drivers’ Choice Awards are nationally sponsored by The Tire Rack, WeatherTech, RockAuto, State Farm and Hum by Verizon.
One of the auto industry’s most coveted honors, MotorWeek’s Drivers’ Choice Awards were announced at the largest consumer-driven auto show in North America, the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. In selecting the annual Drivers’ Choice Awards, the MotorWeek’s editorial staff evaluates more than 150 cars, trucks, and sports utility vehicles every year. Winners are chosen based on driving performance, technology, practicality, fuel efficiency, and value for the dollar.

2018 Drivers’ Choice Award Winners:

Best Small Car                                     Honda Civic**

Best Family Sedan                              Honda Accord

Best Convertible                                 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Best Luxury Sedan                              BMW 5 Series

Best Sport Sedan                                Kia Stinger

Best Sport Coupe                               Lexus LC 500

Best Performance Car                       Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

                                                             Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

Best Small Utility                               Mazda CX-5

Best Large Utility                               Volkswagen Atlas

Best Luxury Utility                             Land Rover Range Rover Velar

Best Minivan                                       Honda Odyssey

Best Pickup Truck                                Ford F-150

Best Eco-Friendly                                Chevrolet Bolt EV*

Best Dream Machine                         Aston Martin DB11

                                                           Porsche 911 GT2 RS

                                                           Mercedes-Benz G550 4X4²

MotorWeek is television’s longest-running and most-respected automotive series. Debuting in 1981, MotorWeek launched a new television genre by becoming the first weekly series to offer consumer-oriented car and truck reviews, do-it-yourself car care tips, and the latest auto industry news. Produced by Maryland Public Television, the award-winning series is now in its 37th season. The winner of numerous automotive journalism awards, MotorWeek is a reliable source of automotive news on television and on the web.

Distributed nationwide and overseas by Maryland Public Television, MotorWeek airs on 92 percent of PBS broadcast stations and can also be seen on the Velocity cable channel. Program excerpts are available to viewers on the program’s website,, and on its YouTube Channel, Fans can like MotorWeek on Facebook and also follow MotorWeek on Instagram and Twitter.
*Denotes Repeat Winner from 2017 **Denotes Repeat Winner from 2016 & 2017

2019 Kia Forte Sedan

Source: New York Daily News
Date: Thursday, January 18, 2018, 10:50 AM

Gaining a more sophisticated design influenced by the Kia Stinger, the 2019 Forte remains one of the most appealing, affordable vehicles on the market.Both the interior and exterior of the Kia Forte are enhanced for 2019. Overall vehicle length is increased, allowing for extra passenger legroom and headroom, as well as increased cargo room in the trunk. A standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment center with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility is new, as well as the option for a wireless device charging tray.Three trim levels are available on the 2019 Kia Forte: LX, S, and EX. A 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque delivers power to the front wheels in all models. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard on the LX, with the option for a newly developed continuously variable transmission (CVT) (standard on S and EX trims).

Changes to the 2019 Kia Forte Sedan:

  • Redesigned exterior styling influenced by Stinger sedan
  • Newly developed continuously variable transmission
  • Standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment center with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility

What We Think

With improvements being made to nearly every aspect of the car, including the new and improved exterior design, the 2019 Kia Forte remains one of the best choices in its segment.

Also noteworthy are the new Forte’s structural and safety enhancements. While the outgoing Forte was already impressive from a safety standpoint, the new 2019 model features increased chassis rigidity and higher-quality steel in hopes of achieving its highest safety test ratings yet.And although the Forte sedan has for quite some time presented an impressive value proposition, it continues to get even better for 2019.

2018 Kia Stinger First Review: Kia Chases, and Catches, the Best European Luxury Sedans

Date: October 8, 2017
Author: Karl Brauer


Starting Price (est.): $33,000

Engine: 255-horsepower 4-cylinder

Fuel Economy: N/A

Warranty: 5-year/60,000-mile (basic), 10-year/100,000-mile (powertrain)

Similar: Audi S5 Sportback, BMW 440i Gran Coupe, Lexus GS, Porsche Panamera

What’s more outrageous than Kia trying to challenge the best luxury sport sedans from Europe? How about Kia succeeding, with its all-new 2018 Kia Stinger. The new Stinger delivers entertaining driving dynamics, premium features and advanced technologies, all wrapped in a stunning shell and offered at a value-packed price.

The new Stinger reflects Kia’s ongoing desire to offer more than just solid transportation at a low price. That’s been the brand’s modus operandi for years, but now Kia wants to send a new message. Kia’s President and CEO, Justin Sohn, says the 2018 Kia Stinger “will mark a new era for Kia, dividing our history into ‘before’ and ‘after.’”

Inspired by Europe’s classic Gran Turismo sport sedans, the new Kia Stinger features a long hood, short front overhang, broad shoulders and fastback roofline. The Stinger’s wheelbase and overall length are slightly larger than its European rivals, giving it more interior space and excellent high-speed stability, a good thing given its 167-mph top speed.

The Stinger’s upscale exterior design is matched by a premium cabin with standard leather seats or optional hand-stitched Nappa leather. A wide dash with large, round vents contributes to the interior’s classic design and spacious demeanor.

Driven by Performance


Taking on Europe’s best sport sedans requires more than a shapely body and supple leather. Kia knew it had to go all in with the Stinger, building it on an all-new, rear-wheel-drive chassis composed of 55 percent high-strength steel while leveraging structural adhesives throughout the platform. Both elements contribute to the Stinger’s rigid foundation, improving driving dynamics and passenger protection.

The 2018 Kia Stinger is powered by either a 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6. The standard 2.0-liter produces 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, which Kia says will propel the Stinger from zero-to-60 mph in 5.9 seconds. The V6 is good for 365 horsepower, 376 lb-ft of torque and a zero-to-60 time of 4.7 seconds. Both engines send power through an 8-speed automatic transmission to either the rear wheels or all four wheels on Stingers equipped with the optional all-wheel-drive system.

Also: See the other new and redesigned models for 2018

Our driving experience with the 2018 Kia Stinger was limited to models with the larger V6 engine, but we did try both rear- and all-wheel-drive versions on a variety of roads, including a closed-course facility. Under all these conditions the Stinger provided a superb balance of refined ride quality and capable performance. Intuitive steering response and controlled body roll gave us confidence when pushing the car hard at the track. All V6 Stingers come standard with 4-wheel Brembo disc brakes, and these delivered progressive, controlled stopping power even during our most aggressive driving behavior on a hot day in California’s high desert. They feature an anti-fade technology that automatically increases boost when needed.

Personalized Driving Style | Drive Mode Select


The 2018 Kia Stinger is offered in five trim levels, starting with the 4-cylinder “Stinger” and “Stinger Premium” trims and continuing on to the V6-powered “Stinger GT”, “Stinger GT1” and “Stinger GT2” trims. All five trims include a Drive Mode Select system that lets the driver toggle between Smart, Eco, Comfort and Sport modes, altering the Stinger’s suspension settings, exhaust note, throttle response, steering weight, and all-wheel-drive system. There’s also a “Custom” mode for adjusting each of those components individually. For performance-oriented driving we found “Sport” worked well for every setting…except steering, which felt unnecessarily heavy. Using the Stinger’s “Custom” drive mode to put steering in Comfort, while leaving everything else in Sport mode, created the perfect blend of throttle, suspension, all-wheel drive, and steering response. This setup also gave full voice to the V6’s rewarding exhaust note.

Rear-Wheel Drive | All-Wheel Drive


With all-wheel drive (AWD) offered on every trim of the Kia Stinger it’s easy to configure the new sport sedan to your personal preference. We tested rear- and all-wheel-drive versions extensively and enjoyed the driving dynamics provided by both. While all-wheel drive will consistently generate greater cornering grip, along with higher confidence in slick road conditions, it’s not uncommon for AWD to give cars a heavier, less-responsive nature. The Kia Stinger avoids this with a rear-biased AWD system that includes dynamic torque vectoring. By constantly altering which wheel(s) power flows to, based on steering input and available traction, the Stinger retains the nimble nature of a traditional rear-wheel-drive sport sedan while adding additional front-wheel grip when it benefits traction and driver control. For rear-wheel-drive Stingers, an optional limited-slip differential is available on V6 models.

High-Performance Wheels and Tires

Kia Stingers equipped with the 4-cylinder engine ride on 18-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 225/45 performance tires engineered specifically for the Stinger. All V6 models come standard with 19-inch alloy wheels wearing the same Michelin Pilot tires sized 225/40 in front and 255/35 in back. Buyers looking for a softer ride from their V6 Kia Stinger can opt for the same 18-inch wheels from the 4-cylinder Stingers.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

Kia supplements the Stinger’s driving dynamics with a wide range of standard and optional driver assistance technologies. Every Stinger comes standard with traction and stability control, hill-start assist, front and rear park-distance warning sensors, and a rearview camera. Optional technologies range from forward-collision and pedestrian warning to lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and driver-attention warning. Other advanced features, including automatic high beams, rear cross-traffic alert, radar cruise control, and a head-up display are also available.

Roomy and Upscale Interior with Plenty of Cargo Space


The Kia Stinger’s svelte exterior envelops a roomy, premium interior with standard leather seats and LED lighting. Legroom is plentiful in the front and rear seats, though the Stinger’s sloping roofline might make headroom tight in the back for those over six feet tall. Cargo space is also impressive because of the Stinger’s rear hatch that hinges above the glass. With the rear seats up, there’s 23.3 cubic feet of storage space. That number jumps to 40.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

Standard luxury features include a 12-way power driver’s seat, 8-way passenger, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a 7-inch touch-screen display, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. Additional standard features, like steering wheel audio controls, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, push-button start, and keyless entry give even base-model Stingers genuine luxury chops.

Buyers seeking additional luxury can specify a 16-way driver’s seat and 12-way passenger seat, both of them ventilated and covered in Nappa leather, but only on top-trim Kia Stinger GT2s. All V6 models come with aluminum pedals and door sill plates, “GT”-embossed headrests, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and a 180-mph speedometer (4-cylinder Stingers have a 160 mph speedo). Other features, available on mid-grade Stingers, range from an 8-inch touch screen with navigation to an upgraded 9-speaker audio system.

Premium Harman Kardon Audio System

A 15-speaker, 720-watt Harman Kardon audio system comes standard on the Kia Stinger Premium, GT1 and GT2 trims. This system features door-mounted tweeters, dual underseat subwoofers, a 12-channel external amp, 5.1 channel surround sound processing, and Harman Kardon’s propriety “clari fi” signal-enhancing technology. The latter is designed to fill in the signal gaps from compressed digital audio. Our experience with clari fi confirms it works as advertised, giving MP3 and satellite radio a richer tonal quality. If the Harman Kardon or mid-grade 9-speaker audio system are too rich for your blood, the base Kia Stinger audio system still includes HD and satellite radio with 6 speakers.

Kia’s UVO3 Infotainment System


The new Stinger features Kia’s latest connected-car technology in the form of UVO3. This system includes the aforementioned Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard features, but it can also integrate with a smartphone app to provide vehicle location tracking, geo fencing, over-the-air vehicle diagnostics, and voice-operated controls for making phone calls or controlling the audio system. The system can also contact emergency services automatically, to request help.

Stinging the Competition

Kia regularly referenced cars like the Audi S5 SportbackBMW 440i Gran Coupe, Lexus GS, and even the Porsche Panamera when discussing the Stinger’s target competition. As we sat in the technical briefing prior to driving the Stinger, it was tough to reconcile those comparisons. After experiencing the Kia Stinger those references to established, benchmark sport sedans made sense. The 2018 Kia Stinger rivals those cars in styling, premium features and interior space. It even matches or beats most of them in terms of driving performance, though the Panamera remains a step ahead of the Stinger (as it should, given its more than double starting price).

Kia’s Value Equation Remains Intact

The 2018 Kia Stinger will go on sale in late November for a starting price around $33,000 for the 4-cylinder version and $40,000 for the V6. That’s substantially less than the sport sedans Kia targeted with the Stinger. Despite Kia’s lack of history in this segment the company is confident buyers of traditional European and Japanese luxury sedans will be intrigued by the Stinger’s combination of style, performance, features and price. All Kia really wants is an opportunity to speak to these shoppers. Buyers willing to give the Stinger a test drive could very likely abandon their original purchase plan, going with this upstart sport sedan instead.


Photo Gallery: 2018 Kia Stinger

Numbers and Details

How much legroom does the Stinger have? Which trim offers the 19-inch wheels? Does it really have Nappa leather? Some of those questions can be answered below, others will require further research.

$33,000 est. (all prices listed include $895 destination charge)

5-passenger capacity
255-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-Cylinder
8-speed automatic transmission
160-mph speedometer
Rear-wheel drive
Leather seats
12-way power-adjustable heated driver seat
8-way power-adjustable heated passenger seat
Heated steering wheel
Dual-zone climate control
Steering wheel mounted shift paddles
7-inch touch-screen display
Push-button start
Keyless entry
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
HD/Satellite/MP3 6-speaker audio system
18-inch alloy wheels
Bi-function projection headlights
LED daytime running lights
LED taillights

Stinger Premium
LED bi-function projection headlights
LED rear turn signals
Power tilt/slide sunroof
Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel
Auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink
2-position memory for driver’s seat
8-inch touch-screen display with navigation
15-speaker, 720-watt Harman Kardon Audio System

Stinger GT
Price: $39,000
3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6
180-mph speedometer
“GT” headrest logo
Flat-bottomed steering wheel
Aluminum dash trim
Aluminum pedals
Aluminum door sill plates
HD/satellite/MP3 9-speaker audio system
19-inch alloy wheels
Body-colored outside door handles
Black chrome power-folding heated outside mirrors
“GT” grille emblem
Black-chrome side vents
High-gloss hood vents
Dark-chrome window trim

Stinger GT1
Price: $N/A

7-inch TFT gauge cluster display with G-meter, oil temp, torque, turbo boost, chrono lap timer
Auto-dimming outside mirrors

Stinger GT2
Price: $N/A

Premium Nappa leather seat trim with unique shape and pattern
16-way power-adjustable driver’s heated and ventilated seat
12-way power-adjustable passenger heated and ventilated seat
Shift-by-wire gear selector
Head-up display
Forward collision avoidance with pedestrian warning
Forward collision warning system
Lane-keep assist
Lane-departure warning
Driver-attention warning
Blind-spot warning
Rear cross-traffic collision warning
Smart cruise control
High-beam assist
Limited-slip differential
Dynamic low-beam headlight assist
Smart trunk with power opening

2018 Kia Stinger Specs
Engine: 2.0-liter Turbo 4 or 3.3-liter Twin-Turbo V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive, All-wheel drive
Horsepower: 255 hp @ 6,200 rpm (2.0-liter), 
365 hp @ 6,000 rpm (3.3-liter)
Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 1,400-4,000 rpm (2.0-liter), 
376 lb-ft @ 1,300-4,500 rpm (3.3-liter)
Fuel Economy: N/A
Zero-to-60 MPH: 5.9 seconds (2.0-liter), 4.7 seconds (3.3-liter)
Curb Weight: 3,800 lbs (rear-wheel drive) to 4,000 lbs (all-wheel drive)
Wheelbase: 114.4 inches
Length: 190.2 inches
Height: 55.1 inches
Width: 73.6 inches

Kia Niro the most reliable car in 2017

Source: Consumers Reports
Date: October 19, 2017
Author: Consumer Reports


Purchasing a car is a long-term investment, with the expectation that the car will provide dependable transportation for the long haul. But as our surveys show, not all cars can fulfill that promise.

Based on our 2017 Annual Auto Survey, these models are the 10 most reliable cars today. We predict that these cars will give owners fewer problems than their competitors, based on data collected on 640,000 vehicles.

Our survey takes a deep dive into the numerous things that can go wrong with a vehicle.

We study 17 trouble areas, from nuisances—such as squeaky brakes and broken interior trim—to major bummers, like out-of-warranty transmission repairs or trouble with four-wheel-drive systems. We weight the severity of each type of problem to create a Predicted Reliability Score for each vehicle. (That score is then combined with data collected from our track testing, as well as our owner-satisfaction survey results and safety data, to calculate each test vehicle’s Overall Score.)

Based on that analysis, these models are the most reliable.

They are presented in rank order, starting with the most reliable. For more details on the models’ reliability predictions and history, click through to their respective model pages.

Kia Niro

Kia’s five-passenger Niro marries good fuel economy with cargo versatility. This front-wheel-drive hybrid uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which, in conjunction with the electric drive unit, puts out a combined 139 hp. This combo is mated to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Because the lithium-ion battery is located under the rear seat, that creates a flat cargo floor when the rear seats are folded. We got 43 mpg overall, which is good but not as good as the Hyundai Ioniq or Toyota Prius. The handling lacks agility, and the ride is a bit choppy. The optional power driver seat provides better support than the standard seats do. A suite of advanced safety features is available, including automatic emergency braking, smart cruise control, and blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, but that tends to push the price to above $30,000.

See the complete Kia Niro road test.


Price as tested: $26,805


Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86



Price as tested: $27,117/$25,025

Developed with Toyota, Subaru’s first rear-wheel-drive sports car features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a choice of a six-speed manual or an automatic. Handling is super-responsive, with cornering precision that makes the BRZ fun to drive. The car turns in promptly, with almost no body lean. The steering is quick and well-weighted. At its limits, the BRZ is slightly more forgiving than its mechanical sibling, the Toyota 86 (the old Scion FR-S). That difference makes the BRZ less prone to sliding its tail during spirited driving. The ride is also a bit more jittery than in the FR-S. The cabin is relatively plain, with well-bolstered sport seats, but the ride and elevated noise can be taxing.

See the complete Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 road tests.

Lexus ES



Price as tested: $43,702-$44,017

The Lexus ES has sound handling but falls short of being engaging or fun. Uncharacteristic for Lexus, the ride is on the stiff side, and the optional 18-inch wheels make it worse. The powerful 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic got a good 25 mpg overall. But we find the hybrid more appealing, thanks to its combination of size and fuel economy, returning a class-leading 36 mpg overall and 44 on the highway in our tests. Inside, the quiet cabin looks good at first, but some cheap touches are apparent. The mouselike infotainment interface is distracting and convoluted. Automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning are standard.

See the complete Lexus ES road test.

Lexus GS


Price as tested: $58,858

The GS competes well, delivering a balanced combination of ride, handling, quietness, and roominess. Engaging to drive, the car’s good handling and taut yet supple ride compete well against German rivals. Its strong 3.5-liter V6 returned 21 mpg overall in our tests. Rear-drive versions get an eight-speed automatic, and AWD versions get a six-speed automatic. A hybrid with a continuously variable transmission is also available. Interior space is on par for the class, and the cabin is nicely furnished. A distracting mouselike controller works the infotainment systems. A high-performance GS F with a 467-hp V8 is available. 2016 brings a rear-drive 200t with a turbo four-cylinder. A blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert is standard.

See the complete Lexus GS road test.


Audi Q3


Price as tested: $40,125

A tidy, compact crossover, the Q3 competes with the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Overall, it manages to deliver a premium driving experience similar to the Q5 but in a 10-inch-shorter package. The energetic 200-hp, 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder is mated to a conventional six-speed automatic and returned 22 mpg overall in our tests. This is a quiet SUV with a firm, comfortable ride and responsive handling. The cabin is a bit simplistic-looking, but it gives a sense of quality. Demerits include the tight quarters and cramped driving position. The controls are complicated at first, but they prove to be logical with some familiarity. Front- and all-wheel drive are available.

See the complete Audi Q3 road test.


Toyota RAV4


Price as tested: $29,014-$29,753

For years, the RAV4 has consistently been among the top-ranked small SUVs. The current RAV4’s cabin is quieter, the ride is smoother, it has a suite of advanced safety features, and it offers a frugal hybrid version. The energetic 2.5-liter four-cylinder and smooth six-speed automatic returned 24 mpg overall in our tests of an AWD version. The hybrid version gets a terrific 31 mpg overall. Handling is responsive and very secure. Inside, the controls are clear and intuitive. Though the XLE comes with automatic climate control and a sunroof, you must step up to the Limited trim to get adjustable lumbar support and the more comfortable faux-leather seats. Access is very easy, and the rear seat is roomy. Forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking are standard.

See the complete Toyota RAV4 road test.


Lexus IS


Price as tested $48,149

In our tests, the IS came up short as a sports sedan. Handling is secure but not engaging enough to run with the best in the class. Ride comfort is neither tied down nor plush. Even the punchy IS 350 is underwhelming to drive. A 260-hp V6 powers the IS 300, which gives it more zip, but its fuel economy of 20 mpg overall is uncompetitive in the class. Still, the interior is extremely cramped, and getting in and out is an ungraceful chore. All-wheel-drive versions have a pronounced hump by the driver’s right leg. Fit and finish is okay but not a standout, and the mouselike infotainment controller is distracting to use. A 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder is available, but only in rear-wheel drive.

See the complete Lexus IS road test.


Toyota Prius V


Price as tested: $28,217

This wagon version of the previous-generation Prius offers a very roomy rear seat and a generous cargo area. It’s about the size of the Ford C-Max, its main competitor. Despite its extra weight and a less aerodynamic shape, the V still got an excellent 41 mpg overall in our tests. The electric motor and engine have to work fairly hard, especially when the car is loaded with cargo. The ride is comfortable, but uneven pavement can cause an annoying side-to-side rocking. Handling is sound and secure but hardly inspiring. Rear visibility is better than in the standard Prius. A larger 4.1-inch dash-top screen for trip computer functions is also new. Forward-collision warning with automatic braking is available but not standard. 2018 is the final year for the Prius V.

See the complete Toyota Prius V road test.


Toyota Prius C


Price as tested: $20,850

This smaller, less expensive alternative to the regular Prius feels like a spartan subcompact, but with a hybrid powertrain. In the end, you pretty much get what you pay for, and it is no substitute for the real Prius. The C has a harsh ride, a noisy engine, and slow acceleration. The interior looks and feels cheap, the driving position and rear seats are cramped, and there’s little cargo space. However, its 37 mpg makes the Prius C one of the most frugal vehicles we’ve tested, and its 43 mpg overall is just 1 mpg less than the previous-generation Prius hatchback. Its tiny dimensions make it a natural for urban driving. Automatic emergency braking is standard. 2018 is the final year for the Prius C.

See the complete Toyota Prius C road test.

Infiniti Q70


Price as tested: $53,825-$58,655

Although long in the tooth, the Q70 is still competitive, with a lively 330-hp V6 and a smooth seven-speed automatic that returned 21 mpg overall in our tests. A V8 and a V6 hybrid are also available. Handling is quite agile, with communicative steering. The ride is firm and absorbs bumps well but trails the competition in terms of plushness. The Q70 is also behind the competition in terms of cabin quietness, partly because of the noticeable engine noise under high revs. Very good interior quality, a roomy rear seat, and easy-to-use controls are positives, although cabin ambience is austere. Blind-spot intervention is optional. An extended-length L version with a roomier rear seat is also available. The Q70 might lack some pizzazz, but it generally commands significantly lower prices than its competitors.

See the complete Infiniti Q70 road test.



By Jay Ramey : September 27, 2017

Kia’s new pocket hatch and sedan duo should have the competition worried

SEPTEMBER 27, 2017


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The days of very complete and comfortable cars that start at less than $15,000 can seem like a thing of the past, along with floppy disks, pagers and Night Court marathons. After all, the amount of tech that goes into the cars of today has pushed the price of entry to the point where it seems at least $20,000 is needed to get into something that can haul itself, some groceries and you in style — or, in lieu of style, at least some inoffensive champagne-colored anonymity.

Kia is about to challenge this notion with the fourth-generation Rio, which lands later this year with an impressive list of real-car accommodations, a peppy engine and some positively retro 1990s pricing.

The Rio has occupied the entry-level, college-car niche long enough to be familiar to most people when they see it, even though non-owners probably only notice them on rental car lots. The Rio has been fine with its position in life, and Kia has been fine with it as well — they’ve been selling tons for the past 17 years. The 2018 model does not lose sight of this fact, but it does try to deliver much more than one could have hoped not long ago, in one of the most affordable cars sold in the U.S.

First things first: the Rio is powered a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter gasoline direct-injected four-cylinder engine pumping out 130 hp and 119 lb-ft of torque, with a choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic driving the front wheels. The Rio has adopted Kia’s current design language — overseen by ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer — along with a brash look that is distinctive and upscale, with the slightly angry face European automakers now favor. That’s not by accident; the current Rio was developed with the European market in mind, and it has to please customers in dozens of countries — that means it can’t get away with catering only to American-size roads and parking spots.

2018 Kia Rio hatch rear

The Rio will be offered as a five-door hatch and as a four-door sedan.PHOTO BY AUTOWEEK

What’s underneath it all? Kia is going heavy on high-strength steel, using it judiciously throughout the structure to improve tensile strength by 30 percent compared to the outgoing model, while also working hard to get NVH down to a minimum. With a revised suspension geometry featuring MacPherson struts up front and a torsion-beam setup in the back, the engineers have aimed to reduce roll in the corners while offering a ride quality optimized for decrepit road infrastructure, but also road manners that won’t embarrass the car on some twisty back roads.

Kia has also given the Rio sedan and hatch a modern and premium-feeling interior that uses plenty of soft-touch plastics and a modern infotainment system — Kia’s UVO3, which offers voice recognition and smartphone integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with 5.0-inch and 7.0-inch screen sizes, depending on trim. A new and well-sculpted dash design aims to look expensive and entertaining at the same time.

For utility, the Rio sedan offers 13.7 cubic feet of cargo room, while the hatch betters those numbers with 17.4 cubic feet with the seats in their upright and locked positions; that grows to 32.5 feet with the seats folded down. When it comes to safety, the Rio comes standard with six airbags, stability control and available forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, the latter two offered only in the top EX trim.

The Execution

We went to the back roads of Maryland to try out the new Rio five-door hatch while also getting a taste of some authentic college travel season traffic on Interstate 95 around Baltimore — after all, the Rio is ultimately more likely to see horrid commutes than the twisty B-roads you see in car commercials. In both settings, the Rio impressed us with its quiet interior, solid driving dynamics and impressive use of what power it has.

That power amounts to just 130 horses, which doesn’t look like much on paper, but it makes those horses count without revving itself silly or requiring the accelerator pedal to be glued to the floor for the duration of your commute. In fact, the 1.6-liter GDI unit here feels relaxed and ready to serve up plenty of go without nervous stabs at the throttle, offering confident overtaking on the highway without much drama or noise. The engine stays generally muted until all 130 horses are put to work, pressing the Rio in the corners of back roads that slice through Maryland horse country with the six-speed auto giving relatively little notice of its workings. Likewise, road and wind noise stay at a comfortable minimum thanks to tall tires on 15-inch wheels soaking up most, if not all, of the broken pavement.

In the corners, the Rio keeps itself in check while offering good steering feedback, even though it’s clearly geared toward comfort rather than sport. The degree to which body roll has been reined in is the most surprising aspect of the Rio’s driving dynamics, and the hatch also avoids excessive nose lift during spirited starts.

The well-proportioned interior is the most memorable aspect of our time with the Rio, though: It offers comfortable and intuitive controls without tiring the driver with road and wind noise, even after several hours of driving on different types of roads. And with fuel economy figures of 28 city/37 highway/32 combined for the automatic hatch and sedan, the Rio is a fuel-sipper without resorting to costly hybrid tech.

Still, some cost-cutting measures are evident: Navigation is only offered via a paired smartphone (which can be useless in an area without cell coverage), but that’s still a small price to pay for everything else available in the top EX trim.

2018 Kia Rio hatch inside

The well-proportioned cabin is quiet at most speeds, which in a rare quality in this segment and price category.PHOTO BY AUTOWEEK

The Takeaway

The work put into the Rio to eliminate various economy car traits has paid off handsomely, with a capable and quiet hatch that puts an impressive distance between itself and the Kias of just five years ago. This is a segment that has been difficult to get right even for automakers such as Toyota and Honda, whose bread and butter has been minimalist A-to-B cars for a far longer amount of time.

The Rio’s biggest roadblock is that compact utilities are quickly becoming the new entry-level segment, displacing subcompact hatches, but a starting price around $15K and some misfires among its competitors should help propel the Rio to the top once it goes on sale at the end of the year. It doesn’t even need that kind of help — it’s quietly impressive on its own.

Jay RameyJAY RAMEY – Jay Ramey is an Associate Editor with Autoweek, and has been with the magazine since 2013. Jay also likes to kayak and bike.

ON SALE: Fall 2017
BASE PRICE: $15,185 (est)
AS TESTED PRICE: $19,000 (est)
POWERTRAIN: 1.6-liter DOHC I4, FWD, 6-speed manual transmission
OUTPUT: 130 hp @ 6300 rpm, 119 lb-ft @ 4850 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 2,648 lbs (manual, hatchback)
0-60 MPH: N/A
FUEL ECONOMY: 28/37/32(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
PROS: Comfortable, quiet, intuitive controls, spacious front cabin, great visibility
CONS: Rear legroom a bit tight, trunk space not generous without seats folded down


Driving the new Stinger’s turbo-four variant

By Angus MacKenzie: October 18, 2017

A funny thing happened on the way back from the Mojave Desert the other day. Someone tossed me the keys to a Kia, and I decided to take the long way home, seeking out some of the great driver’s roads that snake through the San Gabriel Mountains before heading down the Angeles Crest Highway into the hustling bustle of the City of Angels. Kia and driver’s roads … it sounds an unlikely combination. But the 2018 Kia Stinger is a car that will shatter your perceptions about Korea’s value brand.

Here the thing: My ride was the base Stinger, the one powered by the 255-hp turbocharged four-banger, rolling on 18-inch alloys shod with modest section 225/45 Bridgestone Potenza tires, not the loaded, top-of-the-range, $49,500 GT, with the punchy 365-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 under the hood and bigger wheels and tires all round. The only option fitted was the $2,000 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems package, which bundles together active safety technologies such as forward collision warning, lane keeping assistance, and rear cross-traffic alerts. Total price? $33,900.

It’s a steal. There isn’t a better sporty, rear-drive, four-door coupe for the money in the business. Actually, there simply isn’t any other sporty, rear-drive, four-door coupe for the money, period. This Kia is in a class all its own.

The Stinger looks the part, with a sweeping roofline, a broad shouldered stance, and strong graphics. From some angles there are distant echoes of the Maserati 3200 GT designed by Giugiaro in the late 1990s; it’s a trick of the eye, of course, because the two cars are completely different, but it speaks to the effort Kia—and now also Hyundai—design supremo Peter Schreyer put into a car that in many ways has been a personal passion project. I recall Schreyer showing me a sketch of a car that would become the Kia GT concept unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Show—harbinger of the Stinger—and insisting he was going to get it made.

Apart from the smaller wheels and less aggressively styled front and rear fascias, there are few visual differences between the Stinger and the more powerful GT. The GT gets also some extra badging, smoked chrome trim, and red-painted brake calipers, but that’s about it. Both cars rock quad exhausts and vents on the hood and bodyside. The Stinger might be the entry-level model, but it doesn’t look it.

There are a few more tells inside, however. The base Stinger is the only model in the lineup (the others are the $37,000 Stinger Premium, the $39,000 Stinger GT, the $43,500 Stinger GT1, and aforementioned $49,500 Stinger GT2) with an old school foot operated e-brake and a simple 3.5-inch LCD display on the instrument panel. All others get a state-of-the-moment electronic e-brake switch and a 7.0-inch TFT screen between the tach and the speedo. The V-6-powered GTs also all come with a flat-bottom steering wheel, aluminum trim instead of gloss black plastic on the center console, and GT logos embossed into the headrests. That’s not to say the base Stinger is a penalty box. Standard equipment includes a leather-bound heated steering wheel, leather seats—which are power adjustable and heated up front—and a 7.0-inch audio display touchscreen that can run Kia’s UVO infotainment system along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

he Stinger is built on the Hyundai/Kia rear-drive architecture, which will also underpin the forthcoming Genesis G70. As we’ve noted before, it’s a surprisingly large vehicle, 7.5-inches longer overall than a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, with a 3.8-inch longer wheelbase. The longer wheelbase helps not only deliver a roomy interior and generously proportioned load space, but it also delivers decent rolling ride quality, especially on L.A.’s notoriously choppy freeways.

At 3,649 pounds, the base Stinger weighs the same as a 2.0-liter Audi A5 coupe, despite having two extra doors and a hatchback, and is 356 pounds lighter than a fully loaded, V-6 powered Stinger GT. Developing its 255 hp at 6,200 rpm and 260lb-ft of torque at 1,400-4,500 rpm, the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-banger under the hood boasts better power density than similar engines from Audi and BMW. That doesn’t translate to a performance advantage on the track, however.

The Stinger runs 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds, 1.4 seconds slower than the 2.0-liter A5 coupe, and 1.1 seconds slower than the BMW 330i sedan we tested earlier this year. The quarter mile takes 15 seconds even, the Kia sailing through the top end at 95.2 mph. The Audi nails it in 13.8 seconds at 100.5 mph, and the BMW nails it in 14.3 seconds at 98.5 mph. Things are a little closer on the figure eight—the Stinger’s 26.8-second time is just five-tenths of a second off the A5 coupe and seven-tenths behind the BMW sedan.

A lot of the performance advantage enjoyed by the Audi is down to its smooth, efficient, and lightning fast DSG transmission; the Stinger’s Hyundai/Kia engineered eight-speed shifts slower, and its torque converter chews more power. The BMW’s advantage is mass—the smaller 3 Series sedan weighs 112 pounds less—and the fact the guys in Munich still know a thing or two about making a car go around corners. But part of the issue is the Stinger’s engine; although relatively quiet and refined, and with good mid-range punch, it doesn’t quite have the crisp throttle response of the Germans, especially below 2,000 rpm.

Think about those last couple of paragraphs for a second, though: We’ve just been comparing a Kia with an Audi and a BMW. Of course anyone can play the numbers game on the track, and any comparison with Germany’s elite would be meaningless if the Kia Stinger drove like a cheap and cheerful bucket of bolts on the road. The point is, it doesn’t. That sound you hear is sharp intakes of breath in Ingolstadt and Munich.

The Stinger drives more like a European car than anything from Korea so far and most things from Japan. There’s a measured, almost Germanic, weighting to all the controls and to the body motions. It doesn’t have the grunt to indulge in smoky powerslides with all the nannies switched off—as you can in the rear-drive V-6s—but the chassis feels lively and entertaining, nonetheless. A little more initial bite from the brakes would be helpful to smoothly settle the car on corner entry, and a touch more front-end grip would complement the accurate steering, but otherwise the Stinger feels impressively consistent and composed through the twisty bits.

As dusk settled on the run back to L.A., it became obvious the standard headlights were better suited for cruising the bright lights of Seoul than the dark canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Stinger easily outrunning even high beam. However, the $37,000 Stinger Premium is available with brighter LED headlights (and the extra money also buys you a sunroof, a power adjustable steering column, the 7.0-inch TFT screen in the instrument panel, the electronic e-brake, memory for the seat adjustment, sat-nav, and a 15-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, which makes it a solid value). And we prefer the snickety-snick action of the electronic PRNDL shifter on the top-level GT to the slightly clunky feel of the old school T-bar item on the rest of the lineup.

Yep, we’re down to picking nits. For a first effort at a car like this, the four-cylinder Kia Stinger is genuinely impressive. And the more we drive it, the more it reminds us of a proto-BMW 3 Series. It’s not yet fully formed and not yet fully mature, but it’s a car that, should it follow a logical evolutionary path, could eventually occupy the same hallowed ground as the 3 Series once did among enthusiasts who wanted an affordable, sporty, rear-drive car they could drive every day.

And the chances of that happening? Well, as former BMW M engineering veep Albert Biermann is now Hyundai/Kia’s head of high performance vehicle development, you’d be foolish to bet against it, especially given the Korean automaker’s lavish R&D spending and the dizzying speed with which it brings new vehicles to market. Be afraid, BMW. Be very afraid.

2018 Kia Stinger (2.0 RWD)
BASE PRICE $32,795 (est)
PRICE AS TESTED $34,800 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 2.0L/255-hp/260-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,649 lb (52/48%)
WHEELBASE 114.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 190.2 x 73.6 x 55.1 in
0-60 MPH 6.6 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.0 sec @ 95.2 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 126 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.8 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)

Kia takes it up a notch with the Stinger

Gorgeous inside and out, excellent performance and refinement, this new model is as capable as many higher-priced vehicles