We’re about three months into the Kia Stinger’s loan, and public interest in the swoopy four-door continues to be high. These days I get fewer stares or impromptu freeway challenges in the greater Los Angeles area, but on a recent trip up north the Stinger was once again the center of attention—especially out in the country where fewer people have seen the newcomer from Kia.
The Presidents’ Day long weekend provided an opportunity to test out the Stinger’s grand touring chops. A quick jaunt up the coast to Monterey, California, highlighted many of the things I’d already learned from commuting 40 miles round trip in the Stinger every day. The ride is stiff but reasonably comfortable for a sports sedan, and the seats offer good cushioning and support for long drives. I usually turn the stop/start feature off in other cars, but the system in the Stinger is unintrusive and smooth enough that I just leave it on.
The twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 and eight-speed automatic help the Stinger GT live up to the latter half of its name. Traditional grand tourers offer both speed and comfort over long distances, and the engine and transmission combo in the Stinger GT make it well suited for highway cruising. If you need to pass a slower vehicle, simply press the throttle and enjoy the effortless power of the boosted V-6 and an immediate downshift from the transmission. On this trip I averaged 24 mpg, just under the Stinger GT’s 25-mpg EPA highway rating.
I appreciate all of the Stinger’s driver assist features, but some work better than others. For example, lane keep assist doesn’t work as well here as it does in other cars. The system seems to only make minor corrections to keep you in your lane, and isn’t much help on even the gentlest of bends. When engaged, the system alerts you to put your hands on the wheel if it thinks you’re doing something else. It’s this function that I have the most problem with as it’s way too sensitive. Even with both hands gripping the wheel I still somehow managed to trigger the alert multiple times—to the point where the system deactivated.
Because my wife and I only packed for two nights, the Stinger’s cargo area easily accommodated our single large suitcase. But we put the extra space to good use throughout the trip by tossing in things we bought along the way, preferring the security of the cargo cover to the exposed back seat. The hatch is great for stowing your things, but less great for seeing out of. The rear window is very narrow, and the car’s high beltline means you won’t see the headlights of a car directly behind you. Combine this with the thick C-pillars that give the Stinger its characteristic shape and you end up with some pretty miserable rear visibility. You get used to it over time, eventually learning to compensate for your blind spots with your mirrors. Luckily, a rearview camera and parking sensors come standard, which help make backing up much less stressful.
Though rear visibility is poor, our long-term Stinger was plenty visible in and around the small towns that dot California’s central coast. In addition to getting the usual questions at the gas station, I also noticed a few people on different occasions taking selfies with the car. Just let that sink in. Selfies. With a Kia. These are strange and wonderful times.
Read more about our long-term 2018 Kia Stinger GT: