Some of the best new cars arriving in 2018

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2018 has just arived, and many of next year’s cars are already on the streets. We have seen important updates to industry stalwarts like the Toyota Camry, Ford Expedition, and Honda Odyssey, as well as new introductions of some exciting niche products.

The car industry doesn’t follow the calendar like the rest of us do. Models labeled 2018 can arrive anytime after 2017 starts.

While some of these models are all-new, others are redesigns of existing vehicles. That means you might be able to get a great new car deal on the outgoing model as dealers make space for the latest and greatest.

In every category evaluated, the Kia Stinger receives great reviews. Engaging handling, lots of grip, and strong engines add oodles of enjoyment. Driving enthusiasts will appreciate the choice between standard rear-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive on every trim level. Passengers aren’t overlooked either; leather seats come standard (which isn’t always the case, even for luxury cars), and back seat travelers have lots of room to spread out. With its hatch-style rear, the Stinger offers more cargo room than the typical sports sedan. Two categories remain blank for now, though: the Stinger’s crash test performance and expected reliability rating.

A Stinger is sporty, posh, and comfortable. This sportback is a top performer among luxury small cars, with dynamic handling and two energetic engines to choose from. It’s also a great value. The Kia boasts standard amenities like a well-equipped infotainment system and leather seats, as well as one of the longest warranties on the market. The Stinger will be available at Kia dealerships in December 2017.

One of the Stinger’s biggest handicaps is its newness to the segment. Many shoppers will question if Kia can build an authentic rear-wheel-drive sports sedan. Others may have a hard time opting for the Kia badge in lieu of the venerated four rings or three-pointed star. If you can’t quite pull the trigger on the all-new Stinger, plenty of other enticing options are on hand, including the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series, and Audi A4.

Of BMW’s sporty sedans, the 3 Series is probably the most celebrated – and with good reason. This small car is fast and fun to drive, backed by a history of above-average crash test and reliability scores. For spirited drivers, both the BMW and the Kia are good choices, though the 3 Series isn’t quite as good of a value as the Stinger.

If ultimate luxury is what you’re after, you’ll find it in spades inside the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Superlative materials overlay the dash and seats, and opulent add-ons like a panoramic sunroof, pre-entry climate control, and a 13-speaker Burmester audio system are available. However, the C-Class is a much pricier car, and it doesn’t come standard with niceties like leather upholstery and a power-adjustable front passenger seat.

The Stinger isn’t Kia’s only rear-wheel-drive car. The K900 is the brand’s luxury large car. It offers a similar level of value, but with an emphasis on indulgence rather than performance. Notable features include elegant styling, lots of first-class materials, and a serene ride.

The Stinger seats five people inside a roomy, opulent cabin. Every passenger gets ample room to spread out, especially in the back, where the Kia offers more legroom than the Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Alfa Romeo Giulia. Standard leather upholstery and heated front seats add to the Stinger’s comfort.

The Stinger’s LATCH child-seat system includes three tether anchors (one for each rear seat) and two sets of lower anchors on the outboard seats.

While many pricier rivals (including the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series) come standard with synthetic leather seats, Kia includes genuine leather upholstery in every Stinger. The fit and finish throughout the cabin is excellent. Supple Nappa leather is available as an upgrade, but few other top-notch materials can be added. Partly because of this, professional opinions are split on whether the Stinger’s cabin is at the same level as its Audi competitors.

A key advantage of owning a sportback (as Kia describes the Stinger’s body style) is cargo space. The large hatchback of the Stinger opens up to 23.3 cubic feet of storage – far larger than the class average. When you want to tote large or bulky items, you can fold down the rear seat for up to 40.9 cubic feet of cargo space. — SG

The infotainment system – led by Kia’s latest UVO interface – is like a breath of fresh air next to complex tech from Lexus or BMW. The system comes with straightforward menus, and the location and selection of redundant buttons allows drivers to access a variety of controls without taking their eyes off the road. Goodies like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto add to the Stinger’s user-friendliness. For an extra boost, add on the 15-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system.

The Stinger comes in two different flavors: punchy (when powered by the four-cylinder engine) and potent (when wielding the V6). Both are turbocharged, providing brisk acceleration every time you ask. They are paired with a polished eight-speed automatic transmission. For the ultimate in Kia performance and the ability to reach 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, go with the 365-horsepower V6.

With its four-cylinder engine, the Stinger gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. These ratings are a little lower than the typical fuel economy for a luxury small car. Estimates drop to 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway with the V6.

The Stinger exhibits a magical balance between comfort and sport. When pushed hard in twisty canyons, test drivers say it stays glued to the road and absorbs pavement imperfections to keep the ride smooth. Steering and braking are similarly responsive and predictable. Reliability predictions for the Stinger are not yet available. Since it is an all-new model for 2018, no clues can be drawn from previous model years.

Kia covers the Stinger with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is one of the longest warranties in the class.

Standard safety equipment on the Kia Stinger includes front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Available in every model is forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, driver drowsiness warning, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. A head-up display is standard in the Stinger GT2 model.

For its debut year, the Stinger comes in five trim levels: base, Premium, GT, GT1, and GT2. The base Stinger and Stinger Premium models feature a four-cylinder engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger and a 255-horsepower rating. Under the hood of every GT edition is a 365-horspower twin-turbo V6. No matter which engine you select, you’ll get an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard.

The star feature of the Stinger GT is its twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 engine. As the performance-oriented edition in the lineup, this model boasts other sporty additions, such as aluminum pedals and a flat-bottom steering wheel. The GT comes in three different levels. The base GT, which starts at $38,350, comes with a 7-inch touch screen and nine speakers. This system is upgraded in the GT1 ($43,250) to include an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, and a 15-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system.

A multitude of comfort and safety features are added to the range-topping GT2. Standout features of this $49,200 edition include Nappa leather upholstery, extra power adjustments for the front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, a limited slip differential, a hands-free power trunk lid, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, driver drowsiness warning, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, and a head-up display.

Kia’s first attempt at a sporty luxury car – the Stinger – looks to be a success. Like some of its stablemates (such as the Soul and Sorento), the Stinger stands out for being a well-rounded package at a great price. Even the base trim is packed with delights. It’s also one of the sportier luxury small cars on the market; its performance is said to be on par with that of the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. — SG


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