Yes, Kia is known for reliability and safety, but the automaker gets a bad wrap as the “poor man’s” version of higher-end vehicles. While the smaller cars and SUVs in their lineup may have been the norm in the past, Kia has been sneaking in more and more segments like the large luxury sedan segment with its Cadenza or K900 models. Most recently, Kia introduced the Stinger – its sportier, smaller luxury model made to impress. Released in 2018, the Kia Stinger has continued to get noticed even when made by a brand not as known for luxury.
The Kia Stinger surprise
Kia vehicles don’t typically create a lot of buzz outside of loyal customers, but the 2020 Kia Stinger sits near the top of its class for small luxury cars. This may seem surprising since Kia isn’t widely known as a luxury brand. But surprise it does. New for 2020 comes simplified trim levels, while a large cargo area, easy-to-use technology, a balanced ride and handling, and a sporty turbocharged engine remain.
The Stinger seats five comfortably, with padded front seats and a driver’s seat that stays comfortable even after a few hours of driving. With leather and heated front seats standard, upgrades include the addition of ventilated front seats and heated rear seats.
Also standard is a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, two USB ports, a six-speaker stereo system, HD and satellite radio, wireless charging, and more. Some upgrades take the Stinger to the next level in luxury without adding too much cost.
As far as power, the Stinger has that too. Two engine options provide plenty of kick; the four-cylinder engine is enough power for daily driving, and the V6 engine is for those that want a real rush. The Stinger can go from 0 to 60 mph in less than five seconds.
All in all, the Kia Stinger received high ratings from J.D. Power for reliability (four out of five), ranked No. 4 for small luxury cars from U.S. News, and was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Where the Kia Stinger could improve
One of the marks in the cons category deals with the lackluster fuel economy. The Kia Stinger, with its 255-to-365-hp range and sporty feel, only gets an estimated 17-22 mpg in the city and 25-29 mpg on the highway.
The interior is another place it could improve, even though its upscale design could drive the price higher. While it does have a quiet cabin and high-quality trims and accents, the Stinger is still a step behind its rivals when it comes to feeling like true luxury. Kelley Blue Book also notes that the Kia Stinger also handles less precisely than its competitors.
Does it compare to the Audi A5 or BMW 4 Series?
While you might be tempted by the name recognition of an Audi A5 or BMW 4 Series, the Kia Stinger is the bargain of the segment with very few sacrifices compared to its more expensive rivals. Starting at only $33,000, it’s one of the least expensive models in its class. Not to mention, the Kia has a lengthier powertrain warranty.
The Audi A5 is a hatchback with a top-notch interior, impressive driving dynamics, smart tech features, and plenty of seating and cargo space. Each vehicle has its perks, and while the A5 may feel more luxurious than the Kia Stinger, Kia is on the road to impressing for years to come and may be worth the small compromises you’ll make to get the lower price and better warranty.
The BMW 4 Series is also great fun to drive. It offers elegant style as well as impressive seating and cargo space. The infotainment system is user-friendly, and the inside of the car just feels special, especially when it comes to the interior. The Stinger has a lot going for it on the inside, but it may not be quite as good as its rivals just yet.
Which will you choose to drive?
No matter which vehicle you choose to drive, you can bet that the Kia Stinger has a lot to offer in its class, especially since it has just about every luxury feature of the other cars in the segment. And for about $11,000 less than these competitors, it all depends on how much you want to spend.