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NowCar 2018 Kia Stinger First Drive

2018 Kia Stinger - First Drive by NowCar

Written By, Jordan R.

You see that? Yeah, the 2018 Kia Stinger is finally making its rounds across the nation, with dealership lots grabbing as many as they can. Why? Aside from the fact that this is one hot sports car, they’re selling as soon as they find a spot on the lot. We got to test one recently and decided to do one of our own “First Drive Reviews.” In one word - impressive.

Powertrain and the Drive

For anyone who has been following the Kia Stinger for the past three years, and we know some of you are out there, you’ll know that every trim in the Stinger lineup is powered by one of two twin turbocharged engines. We got our hands on the high-end trim, the 2018 Kia Stinger GT2, powered by a twin turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 engine. This beauty is a double overhead camshaft engine to split the work between the six cylinders for less engine stress, optimized with continuously variable valve timing that improves the engine’s performance, gasoline direct injection to deliver fuel directly into the combustion chamber, and idle stop and go to conserve fuel.

The Stinger isn’t designed with any identifiable acoustic technology, but the powertrain itself all runs so smooth, the sounds of the engine revving up are barely noticeable. We didn’t do any acceleration measures, but the Stinger definitely can pick up speed on the highway quickly. Not only that, but the drive itself is very, very smooth. Compared to some of the older sports cars out there, the Kia Stinger drive is as fluid as water. There wasn’t a single moment the car felt out of control, and we definitely put that to the test.

We were lucky enough to find a makeshift race track to really test the Stinger out. There’s a drive mode selector found as a small knob in the interior just below the gear shift. We didn’t get to try out one of the five modes (fuel-saving ECO, dynamic performance with Launch Control, Sport, Comfort, automatically adjustable SMART, or our own custom style) but we didn’t have to. Before taking it out, we heard that “sport” mode basically puts the car on rails with turns that are unbelievable, but we didn’t need to try anything but the default mode to notice how well the vehicle handled even the tightest turns.

Unique Interior

All 2018 Kia Stinger trims come with leather upholstery as a standard, and it really makes a difference in comfort. The GT2 also comes with ventilated seating, the only trim sporting this feature. It’s one of the welcome amenities in the hot Florida weather, but not necessary with dual-zone automatic temperature control, a lineup standard. Maybe the only thing that really bugged us was the gear shift was a bit “different”.

An 8-speed automatic transmission is the standard for the Stinger, so we didn’t have to fidget around with it too much. What really caught us off guard was the lack of a “park” mode. Instead of shifting into “park”, the three gears are: reverse, neutral, and drive. To park, there’s a small button at the top left of the gear selector with a “P” on it, for “Park”. That’s how you put the vehicle into a resting position.

The other bit that caught us off guard was how quickly gears could shift. Usually one feels a little resistance to change gears, but the Stinger can switch from reverse to drive in a single-second motion. That’s not to say one may find themselves bumping the gear shift and changing gears, there’s still a side button on the shifter handle-grip to unlock the current gear set. There are also paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel to change gears manually if so desired, but honestly, they were barely noticeable, unlike the design on some vehicles.


We didn’t fool around too much with the tech in the Stinger. The eight-inch touchscreen with UVO eServices was intuitive enough that it wasn’t difficult to find what we were looking for, another welcomed feature. It’s such a pain to actually need to navigate the menu, apps, and settings in an infotainment system only to give up because of the complex setup. That isn’t a problem with the Kia Stinger. We found whatever we were looking for with ease.

The touchscreen is also pretty cool. After launching SiriusXM Satellite Radio and tuning into the dedicated The Beatles station, it was a neat sub-feature to see a small window at the main menu that still displayed what station we were on and what song was playing. The sound system was also great, but anyone who’s had a Harman Kardon with Clarif-fi setup knows that already. A 15-speaker system with surround sound comes with the GT2, by the way.

Advanced safety features are always nice. We didn’t need them during the drive, but the GT2 comes with all of them standard while the rest of the lineup has them as an option. There was maybe one time a car stopped in front of us abruptly, and even with the driver in control, hearing a little ding from the forward collision warning system was nice to know such features can come in handy.

If we weren’t sold on the Kia Stinger before, we sure are now. We’ll leave you with the video below to enjoy. Hoping to get your own Kia Stinger? Build a 2018 Kia Stinger at NowCar.

Photo Source/Copyright: Bradley Raposo
Video Shot by Bradley Raposo; Edited by Jordan A. Rodriguez