By Jon Rosner
Kia originally positioned it’s cars as a value proposition. Handsome, but not daring, sporty, but not at the extreme, loaded with features and at a lower price to entice consideration. At 4,000 pounds this is not a light car, but the responsiveness of the wheel and the ability of the suspension to handle potholes midway through off-angle switchback corners shows that the AWD Stinger is a nicely balanced canyon carver. Taut handling with a reasonably supple ride are the signs of time and money well spent in suspension development. The car felt rock solid when pushed to 7/10ths on the backroads. Very nice helpings of torque allowed the driver to power out of corners and position it for the next challenging turn.
The 3.3 liter twin-turbo V-6 engine was only turning 1,250 RPM in 8th gear at 55 MPH allowing the car to simply loaf along on highway sections, probably doing a nice job of sipping fuel. Per the fuel gauge we were seeing 17.5 MPG, but keep in mind that was the return with a bunch of eager journalists pounding the snot out of it and wringing it out on every twisty section. Nice that Kia has the confidence in their product to offers a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty to go with the 5 yr/60,000 mile standard warranty. With 365 horses and 376 pound-feet of torque zero to 60 for the Stinger AWD comes up in 4.7 seconds. The standard Stinger starts at just under $35,000 delivered, with the AWD coming at a bit over $41,000 MSRP.
With the Stinger Kia has grown up, offering a real sports car with a nicely sculpted shape and a very satisfying exhaust growl. This is a very long way from the tepid econoboxes that were the first Kias to hit American shores. But then again, the first Hondas and Toyotas were pretty much considered penalty boxes when they arrived. And Kia has also figured out something that has escaped a few too many of the current market offerings. Kia has developed a way to make interiors of appealing soft-touch materials that match in color, fit together nicely, look balanced and house usable controls.
The Kia Stinger AWD is a very appealing package that has been thoroughly developed and well screwed together. It is also a delight to drive.