2018 Kia Stinger GT Review


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Over the past couple of months, the Stinger developed an intermittent noise coming from the window frames. You’d always hear a creaking sound when turning into a driveway, but some days the windows would squeak constantly above 35 mph. Because I had to head into the dealer anyway for a technical service bulletin dealing with the hatch, I made an appointment to get the noise checked out, as well.

Luckily, the windows were extra squeaky the day I took the Stinger in; the service advisor heard the noise right away. He estimated the service, including the tailgate job, would take four hours. Sensing my surprise, he told me it was because there was only one Stinger specialist, and he wasn’t in yet. I thought it was strange that the dealer website would let me schedule service for a Stinger before the Stinger specialist was on duty, but I handed over the keys and headed to the waiting room.

I’ve now taken the Stinger to two different dealerships, and each visit has offered insight into the Stinger ownership experience. I know this car is a Kia. The badge stares up at me from the steering wheel every day. But somehow, my first trip to my local Kia dealer for regular maintenance still surprised me. Stepping out of our swanky $50,000 long-term GT2 and into a crowded waiting room cluttered by marketing displays and racks of floor mats and car care products was quite the contrast. I wasn’t expecting the Ritz, but I also wasn’t expecting to see so much of the Kia Soul hamsters.

My second appointment was at a newer dealership that felt much higher-rent. The waiting room’s open layout and modern design seemed better suited to the Stinger customer, but it was still packed with people—perhaps something you just have to deal with when you own a car from a mainstream brand. Despite being quoted four hours for the service, the service writer retrieved me after just one and asked me to take a test ride with the technician. On a quick spin through the lot and on the road, I didn’t hear the noise once. He explained that my window seals were dry and needed to be lubricated. Asked whether this was a common problem on the Stinger, the tech said mine was the first he’d come across. The Stinger went on sale in December 2017, and they don’t sell in great volume (5,298 units have been sold through April), so techs are still learning the car and its quirks.

One thing Kia learned pretty early on was that the hatch can rattle due to ill-fitting rubber overslam bumpers. The service bulletin I was there for addressed that with new pads and washers. A rattle originating from the cargo area was a common complaint about the Stinger during Car of the Year testing, but I never heard the noise in our long-termer. Still, it’s nice to have that potential issue nipped in the bud. My car was ready in just two hours, rather than four, and both jobs were performed free of charge.

Overall, my experiences at the dealer have been positive—just not well matched to the Stinger’s upscale feel. Kia’s dealerships easily meet the standards of other mainstream brands, but when you own a Stinger (or K900 luxury sedan), a trip to the Kia dealer is like flying coach when you’re used to first class. That’s especially true if you’re a conquest buyer coming from a premium brand like Audi or BMW. If your BMW needs to be kept overnight, the dealer can probably find you a comparable loaner. But if for some reason the Stinger was ever out of commission, a Forte was the best I could hope for at one dealer I visited. The other had an Optima or Sorento to offer, however.

So far, the Stinger has proven to be a fun, comfortable sports sedan, and every bit a match for its more prestigious competitors. Just don’t expect the same white-glove treatment you might get from a dedicated luxury marque.

Read more about our long-term 2018 Kia Stinger GT: