Toyota Camry VS Kia Stinger
- A true halo car for Kia
- Potent performance
- Great ownership plan
- Entry grade interior not as nice
- Could be more affordable
- Sports exhaust optional on GT
I've got a line of Camry jokes that stretches to Mars and back, and I'm not alone. Heck, even Akio Toyoda sledged his own company's products when he famously delcared it would produce "no more boring cars". To be fair, the company is still struggling with that promise.
The new version has, sadly, knocked some of the stuffing out of my established Camry repartee. Until today, I had not yet had a go in the new car, and thus it was something of a shock to realise that it doesn't even look terrible any more.
My cruel colleagues, however, muttered darkly that this was still a Camry, just not as we've always known it.
Hmmm. I'm getting too old to deal with change. This Camry Ascent Sport Hybrid had better be boring.
|Fuel Type||Hybrid with Premium Unleaded|
The Kia Stinger was the most anticipated vehicle the Korean brand had ever launched - and less than a year since it first landed in Australia, the big rear-wheel drive five-door liftback is still one of those cars that, when you spot it on the road, you’ll find yourself exclaiming “ooh, Stinger!”.
This wasn’t the sort of car people expected from a brand like Kia. And it launched at a time when we were wiping away tears spilled over the loss of the Falcon and Commodore (yes, the latter is still on sale, but no, it’s not what it used to be).
It hasn’t sold in huge numbers since it launched, but that’s not what this car was developed for. It was made to change perceptions of the brand, and it has done exactly that. Bulk sales are left to models like the Cerato, Sportage and Rio - but the Stinger is what draws you to the showroom, if only for a bit of a sneaky look.
So, the Stinger is still stylish enough to make you turn your head when you drive past one… and it could be enough to cause you to consider a Kia, even if you can’t afford a Stinger. But should you be taking a closer look? Let’s find out.
|Engine Type||3.3L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
It's a pity families don't buy sedans any more, because this is a terrific family car, particularly if you're not bothered by badge cache or speed, but do like an easy-to-drive, cheap-to-run car. Just a few years ago it would have been almost laughable to contemplate a car this big, for this money, being so cheap to own and run.
I'm also really annoyed that my hackneyed Camry jokes are no longer just not funny, they're not funny because they're not (as) true. No, it's not a super-fun excitement machine, but that's not the point. It is a very good car, with all the Toyota goodness of old, added warranty and the bonus of genuinely feeling good to drive. And you're a mild shade of enviro-green to go with it.
Is it true? Has the Camry shaken off most of its dowdy image?
As far as halo cars go, the Kia Stinger is pretty much perfect. It’s the ideal aspirational offering - the sort of car that would definitely put a smile on your face and cause your neighbours to unexpectedly drop in for a cuppa, if only to see if they can have a look at your Stinger.
For this writer, the flagship GT is the model to go for - 92 per cent of buyers have done exactly that, and it’s because that variant, while pricey, is exactly what this car should be. And while you might find people saying “ooh, Stinger” in any of the versions available, the GT is the one that deserves the admiring stares the most... even if the additional safety equipment recently added to base models now warrants further investigation at the lower price points.
Is the Kia Stinger GT your pick of the range? Tell us in the comments section below.
Some key changes to the design approach on the new Camry means it's not as knock-kneed and simpering as the last, um, six or so generations.
To be fair, the previous one wasn't terrible but there are actual hints of mild bravery, with an angry front-end look, some interesting surface detailing and, even what might be called a "Lexus-lite" look for the rest of it.
The new Camry is lower, has big wheel arches that the 17s struggle to fill but it has some genuine style, rather than looking like the clay modellers knocked off before lunch. The dual exhaust seemed incongruous to me, but is, in fact, a styling win.
Jokes aside, I don't mind it at all. It's no Supra, but it's no mid-90s Camry, either. Yeah, I bet you don't remember which one I'm talking about, either.
I really like the cabin. The dash design is quite something and shows some real flair. William Chergowsky told me last year that this interior was going to be more emotional and memorable. And it really is, along with Toyota's impressive build quality. Even the volume knob feels substantial, the materials are nice but the steering wheel is... well, more of that later.
I’m at about 80 per cent like, 20 per cent dislike with the Kia Stinger’s exterior design.
There are some really sweet and sleek elements to it: the silhouette of the car is long and muscled, the headlights and grille work together really well, and the integrated body kit with front spoiler, side skirts, rear spoiler and rear diffuser all combine nicely.
There is no denying the street cred of the Stinger, and it partly comes down to the sheer size of the thing. Its dimensions are 4830mm long, 1870mm wide and 1400mm tall, with a lengthy 2905mm wheelbase.
So, it has presence - and pretty much every model in the range has that, even a base grade 200S. Unfortunately there’s also some pretence.
Things like the fake bonnet vents look like eBay add-ons, and the plastic red light line that runs from the tail-light into the rear guard, for me, ruins the cohesion of the car. These parts look cheap, where the rest of the Stinger looks expensive.
I also struggle to deal with the projector halogen headlights on the lower grades: you get LED headlights in the top-spec, and LED daytime running lights on all of them, but yellow beams? Yuck. They could have at least gone with HID or xenon lamps.
But on the whole, there’s a lot more to love than hate.
As you may know, the wheel design and size depends on the model of Stinger you choose. So, the 2.0-litre gets an 18-inch alloy in silver, fitted to the 200S and 200Si, and the same wheel but with black highlights is fitted to the 330S.
The 19-inch alloy wheel fitted to the 330Si and 200 GT-Line is identical. And the 330 in GT spec has a model-specific 19-inch wheel (though it looks very close to the other 19-inch wheel option). Every Stinger comes with a space-saver spare wheel.
As for the cabin, the interior dimensions are pretty accommodating - you need to remember the size of this car, because it’s pretty big. Check out the interior photos to see what I mean, and we’ll take a deeper dive into the inside.
The new, stretched wheelbase has meant a lot more interior space for passengers, particularly in the rear. The Camry hasn't really been small for a very long time, but this one's generous rear legroom is probably why it's a smash-hit with the Uber crowd. The seats are comfortable too, if trimmed in what appears to be neoprene.
Front and rear passengers each have a pair of cupholders for a total of four, plus there's a deep central console bin and a space under the stereo for a phone. There's even a coin slot. Each door also has a bottle holder.
The boot in the Ascent Sport is a voluminous 524 litres - the Ascent has a full-size spare that swallows up 30 litres of that space. The seats fold down 60/40, but the cargo volume when they are down is not readily available.
The interior of the Stinger is undoubtedly the most desirable of any vehicle ever sold by Kia in Australia. It looks good, no matter which spec you’re going for… but clearly, the S version with its smaller 7.0-inch touchscreen can’t quite match the bigger tablet in the models above, let alone the little changes in trim and finishes that you see as you step up the range ladder.
The flagship GT and GT-Line models are sumptuously appointed, with loads of adjustability to the driver’s seat and trim that looks as expensive as the price-tag suggests it should. The Si is smartly luxurious, where the S looks more like a ‘price leader’.
Now, to the real complaints. The driver’s seat is perched too high for my tastes - I’d like to sit a little lower when pushing through corners - plus there’s no lumbar support in lower grade cars. And anyone my height (182cm) or more will need to watch their head getting in and out of the driver’s seat. I banged the top of my noggin on more than one occasion.
The headroom situation is similar in the back seat, because the scooped roofline makes for limited space if you’re on the tall side. Thankfully, though, legroom is pretty good, and so is shoulder-room if you have two in the back. Three across will be a squeeze, as the middle seat is more ornamental than anything else, with very little legroom due to the transmission tunnel and not much in the way of comfort to the seat base or the upright.
If you have children, there are dual ISOFIX attachments for the rear window seats, and three top-tether hooks as well. Plus all Stingers have rear air-vents - and so they should.
Storage is pretty thoughtful throughout, with bottle holders in all four doors, plus map pockets (mesh ones!) in the seatbacks, and there’s a fold-down armrest with cupholders in the back. The front has a pair of cupholders between the front seats, plus a covered central storage bin, and a caddy for your phone in front of the gear selector.
Clearly if you’re thinking about a Stinger, then you’ll want to know what sort of boot space it offers, given the size of this car. But sadly, the cargo capacity is pretty slim, at just 406 litres. I guess that explains why I’ve seen a lot of Stinger models with a roof rack set-up…?
Price and features
The hybrid drivetrain is available on the Ascent, Ascent Sport and SL. I had the $31,990 Ascent Sport for the week.
It comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, a six-speaker stereo (with CD player!), dual-zone climate control, cloth trim, with space-saver spare wheel, electric driver's seat, auto LED headlights, keyless entry and start, sat nav, reversing camera, active cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, an impressive safety package, power mirrors and windows. Did I mention the CD player?
The six-speaker stereo is powered from the 8.0-inch touchscreen and the software is...um...not great. Which wouldn't matter if it had Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay but Toyota Australia stubbornly refuses to include them. The damn Seppos get it in their Toyotas, so it's not like it's impossible. But our version does have a CD player. Hipsters rejoice!
So, you want to know how much a Kia Stinger will cost you? Well, it’s an extensive range, with a price list that should help it appeal to a broad range of consumers. There are six models in the line-up, and here’s a simple rundown of the list price (or RRP, before on-road costs) for each of them.
With the 2.0-litre engine you can get: the 200S, priced at $45,990; the 200Si, priced at $52,990; and the GT-Line, priced at $55,990.
For Stinger models powered by the 3.3-litre engine, you have three options, too: the 330S, priced at $48,990; the 330Si, priced at $55,990; and the flagship GT, which lists at $59,990.
We asked Kia Australia to provide us with a model comparison table, showing where the GT sits in terms of popularity for sales so far in 2018. Amazingly, 92 per cent of sales are the GT, meaning vs the other five variants account for only eight per cent between them.
Now let’s take a look at the standard features across the trim levels.
The entry-grade 200S and 330S models have artificial leather trim on the seats, dual-zone climate control, electric driver’s seat adjustment (eight-way), manual front passenger seat adjustment, a digital driver info display with digital speedometer, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto headlights (halogen projector beams with LED daytime running lights), heated exterior mirrors with folding, and a 7.0-inch infotainment screen with a six speaker sound system.
There is no CD player, but you get media USB (plus an additional USB charging socket and two 12-volt outlets) and there’s Bluetooth phone and audio streaming connectivity, as well as DAB+ digital radio. Keyless entry (with a button on the door handle, rather than the more advanced hand-sensing system on some rival cars) and push-button start are standard on all models, too.
While in late 2017 the Stinger didn’t come with advanced safety equipment on the base model S versions, that has been rectified for 2018 model cars. Read more about what’s included in each variant in the safety section below.
The 200Si and 330Si models gain real leather seats, along with a larger 8.0-inch multimedia screen and an updated sound system with nine speakers (including a subwoofer under each front seat) active cruise control, plus this version adds auto wipers. The Si grade also gains a luggage net and carbon-fibre-look trim.
The 18-inch rims fitted to the 200S and 200Si are the same, but for the 330S you get 18s (another design) and the 330Si gets bigger 19s (again with a unique style).
If you decide to step up to the GT-Line (for the 2.0-litre) or the GT (for the 3.3-litre), you gain quite a bit of extra kit.
Nappa leather lines the seats, and there’s flat-bottomed steering wheel with GT badging, plus the front seats add memory settings and powered bolster adjustment and thigh support adjustment. The front passenger seat gains electric adjustment, and both front seats have heating and ventilation, but there’s no heated steering wheel.
The GT-Line and GT models rock a 15-speaker harman/kardon audio system, and add an electric sunroof (not a panoramic sunroof), auto-dimming side mirrors, and extra technology including a 360-degree camera and colour head-up display, including speed limit indicators - but it doesn’t have traffic sign recognition, so it’s useless in roadworks-prone areas.
The interiors of these two models also sees the introduction of alloy sports pedals and Qi wireless phone charging, plus faux suede headliner and pillar trim.
If you get the range-topping GT, there are model-specific digital gauges for oil temp, torque output, turbo boost, G-forces and a lap timer. Plus this version has electric steering wheel adjustment in this variant only.
The GT-Line and GT have LED headlights with auto high-beams and cornering function, plus the wheel size jumps up to 19-inch for the GT-Line, and the GT also gets a unique 19-inch wheel design. Plus these top two versions have adaptive dampers.
And to reinforce the sportiness of the Stinger V6, every model with that drivetrain comes with Brembo brakes, a limited slip differential and a variable-ratio steering rack.
Australian GT models can be optioned with a $2500 locally-developed bi-modal exhaust. It’s worth the money, but really could be included standard. And you can’t option an exhaust through Kia Australia on the turbo four-cylinder models, which is a bummer.
Floor mats are standard on all grades, and you can expect the “tinted windows upgrade” question to be asked at the point of sale, as no model comes standard with privacy glass. What about colours (or colors, if you’re reading this somewhere other than Australia)? I personally think white looks great on the Stinger, but there is also silver, red, blue, black, grey and a darker blue that almost looks purple depending on the light. There is no orange option like the hue used on the GT Federation concept.
There are some widely reported problems with the hero 'Sunset Yellow' paint colour, and Kia Australia has instituted a fix for this: it will repaint the car at no cost (with a lifetime guarantee), refund the customer or replace the vehicle. For more on potential Kia Stinger problems, read the ownership section below.
Engine & trans
While the standard Camry packs the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder, the Hybrid's ICE output is slightly lower, at 131kW. When paired with a hybrid motor, the total power figure is a pretty decent 160kW, but the torque figure appears to be unaffected, at 202Nm. Toyota doesn't quote combined torque figures, because it's tricky with the type of transmission it uses.
The front wheels are driven by Toyota's favoured e-CVT, with six artifical steps to make it feel like a proper auto, if you're feeling racy.
Let’s talk engine specs. There are two drivetrain options for the Stinger range: the four-cylinder turbocharged 2.0-litre engine (hence the 200 prefix), and the twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6 (ditto the 330 prefix).
The 200, or 2.0-litre turbo motor, isn’t the horsepower hero here, but nor is it underdone. It has 182kW of power (at 6200rpm), and 353Nm of torque (from 1400-4000rpm). The four-cylinder is only available in Australia with an eight-speed automatic transmission - no manual gearbox is available.
The 330, or 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged engine, offers more punch - and so it should, considering its engine size. It has 272kW of power (at 6000rpm) and 510Nm of torque (1300-4500rpm). Again, it only comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox - there is no manual transmission option.
If we had to give a rating for each engine individually, it’d be a 9/10 for the 3.3L and a 7/10 for the 2.0L - and not just because of the stats.
You can forget any type of turbo diesel motor in Australia (but there is a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel in Europe - the same engine used in the Sorento SUV). We’re an all petrol market, though no market has an EV, plug in hybrid or LPG version of the Stinger, and you can probably forget all about a Stinger with a supercharger, too.
And while all models sold in Australia are rear-wheel drive (RWD), not front wheel drive like all other Kia passenger cars sold in Australia. The diesel sold in Europe is available with all-wheel drive (4WD / AWD), and so is the V6 in some colder markets.
Being a big car with a strong engine, you might be interested in fitting a towbar (yes, you can) to haul some weight behind you. If so, the towing capacity of the Stinger is the same across both engine types: 750kg for an un-braked trailer, 1500kg for a trailer with brakes, and with a tow ball download limit of 75kg.
The Hybrid's windscreen sticker makes the bold claim of 4.2L/100km on the combined cycle, which is amazing for a big sedan. Reality isn't quite so amazing. In our week with the car, 5.7L/100km was the best I could get, but it was mostly city driving, the weather was really humid and, it turns out, this isn't a bad thing to drive, which means you're tempted to hit the throttle regularly.
Fuel consumption mightn’t rank highly on your list of priorities if you’re looking at a Stinger, but even so, below are the fuel economy figures for both models in the range.
The 200 models, or versions with the 2.0-litre engine, have claimed combined cycle fuel use of 8.8 litres per 100 kilometres.
The 330 models, with the 3.3-litre V6, have claimed combined cycle fuel use of 10.2L/100km.
During our time in the four-cylinder GT-Line we saw a displayed average of 8.7L/100km (with a lot of highway driving in the mix), while the V6 GT model we drove - mainly in highway driving and commuting, with some typically argumentative Sydney traffic - was using 9.7L/100km. A spirited drive down the coast returned 10.4L/100km at the bowser in the 330S.
Both are capable of running on regular unleaded fuel, but premium unleaded (95RON or 98RON) would be our recommendation.
The fuel tank size for the Stinger is just 60 litres, which is quite small for a vehicle of this size, and could mean less mileage than you’d think - even if you engage the Eco mode. In fact, in the best-case scenario you’ll see about 680km in the four-cylinder, and 590km in the V6.
All the Camry markers are here. It's easy to get in and out of and easy to get comfortable. The dash isn't too high and, uh, the steering wheel is plastic, which is genuinely disappointing. A Mazda6 (no, not a hybrid, I know) doesn't have a plastic steering wheel. The Toyota one is pretty cheap-feeling.
Pressing the start-stop button, you hear the electrics switching on and, if you're backing out of the drive, you won't hear the engine until you're on the gas driving away. You may not hear anything, but your passengers might hear your tutting. The brakes are very grabby when you're in stealth, I mean, electric mode, whether you're going forward or backwards. No doubt it's something you will become accustomed to, but it's there. Toyota hybrids seem to be behind the game on this particular score.
In every other way, the Camry is exactly as it has always been. Except it isn't. Toyota kept all the good things - it's smooth, it's quiet and it rides well. Everyone is comfortable and everything works. I've already mentioned it was stinking hot the week we had it and the Camry's air-conditioning was super-fast cold.
The bit that's different, though, is that, just like the styling, things are better. Camrys past had over-light steering, marshmallows for suspension and as much grip on the road as Kanye West has on reality. This one has body control. The steering feels good. There is actual grip and you feel like you're driving the car rather than just steering it around.
Let me just put it out there: if you’re considering a Stinger, you should be going for the V6. Of the buyers who have already purchased a Stinger, almost all of them have done exactly that… I mentioned the GT accounts for 92 per cent of sales, and V6 versions count for 96 per cent of all Stingers sold.
It’s not just because the V6 offers the most enviable performance figures - although speed is a big reason to buy a car like this: a 0-100km/h time of just 4.9 seconds is fantastic considering it can run on 91RON regular unleaded petrol.
The real reason is that the Stinger feels like the V6 is what it should have, and the four-cylinder is only there to meet a price point. Is there any need to meet a price point, though, when almost all Stinger buyers are choosing the most expensive version? I think not.
Sure, the 2.0-litre engine is a zesty offering, but doesn’t set the senses on fire as much as the V6. It builds pace well, and even sounds pretty good under hard throttle - but for me, the six is better suited to the character of a big car like the Stinger.
The automatic transmission is focused more on efficiency when teamed to the four-cylinder, upshifting a little too soon in the normal or comfort drive modes - though choosing sport mode is the best way to rectify that, as it makes the throttle response and shift patterns more aggressive.
But the V6 is just so much better. It offers superb refinement, excellent throttle response and it’s properly fast. The transmission feels up for it, more ready for sudden throttle thumps, and it rewards with potent in-gear grunt. But the fact the transmission will overrule you when you're using the paddle-shifters is truly annoying, even if it is protecting costly, breakable moving parts.
You will need to keep an eye on your rear tyres, because Kia has done a great job of allowing some tolerance from the traction control system. From a standstill, the alloy wheels at the back will often do more rotations than those at the front…
But it isn’t just the punch - it’s the way the Stinger handles itself. There are four suspension tunes that have been developed by the brand’s local suspension gurus, and the examples I sampled - the GT-Line, GT and 330S - all did a terrific job of controlling the body of the car.
The GT-Line and GT, admittedly, have adaptive dampers to can firm things up when you engage the Sport drive mode or tailor the 'Custom' drive mode as such, and if the road surface isn’t perfect the wheels can be a little slappy in their engagement with the road below.
But just find a smooth road, and you’ll be able to properly unleash the abilities of the Stinger. Plus for models on sale in the latter part of 2018, the GT will see an upgrade from Continental rubber to Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, which is what Kia intriguingly fitted to track cars at the launch of the Stinger in 2017, before switching back to Contis for the road drive.
And while most of us won’t be carving up mountain passes everyday, the Stinger makes for a comfortable and composed cruiser or commuter, too. There’s not much cabin noise, and Comfort mode in the cars with adaptive dampers is very good. It’s not as cushy as air suspension in some cars three-times the price, and you don’t have the same ground clearance advantages as you might in, say, a Mercedes-Benz CLS which can raise up for steep sections, but unless you have a hellish driveway, you’ll struggle to bottom out. For those interested, the ground clearance is 130mm.
In the 330S, the chassis (MacPherson strut front suspension/multi-link rear suspension) is really well set up. Sure, you don’t get the smarts of adaptive dampers, but the tune that Kia’s local team has done on it is excellent: it rides over bumps well (the slightly smaller wheel/tyre package undoubtedly helps in that regard), and it handles corners with ease and steers quite nicely. A bit more nose-end grip could help things even more.
The braking response of the Brembos on the V6 models was definitely better than the four-cylinder models - strong and straight, and with good pedal feel, too.
One minor complaint I had was with the adaptive cruise control - it isn’t as good as some other systems I’ve used: it can be jagged in its reapplication of throttle, whether in the 2.0-litre or the 3.3.
The Ascent Sport ships with seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, active cruise, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning, forward AEB, reverse cross traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring.
The Camry scored five ANCAP stars in November 2017.
When Kia launched the Stinger, it had not one safety rating, but two: a three-star ANCAP score for the 200S and 330S base model versions, and a five-star ANCAP for all other Stingers. The reason was the S models lacked some electronic safety features. Now, however, every Kia Stinger has the five-star ANCAP rating, based on 2018 testing.
Now, let’s just put this out there: this scoring was confusing and also confounding when compared with other ratings from the safety watchdog. For other vehicles in the market, ANCAP hadn’t issued two ratings if a specific variant didn’t have the safety equipment needed: instead, it would issue an overall rating for the range, with a side note about specific models that may not meet the five-star score… like the Honda CR-V. Why ANCAP decided to single out the Stinger is beyond us.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk safety equipment.
Every Stinger now has auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, driver attention alert, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, and seven airbags (dual front, front side, full length curtain and driver’s knee).
The high-spec GT and GT-Line models gain a 360-degree camera/surround view camera, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and front parking sensors - but no park assist system to help you out in carparks. These versions also get a colour head-up display (HUD).
Where is the Kia Stinger built? The answer is South Korea.
In news that still has me all a-tingle (okay, not really), Toyota now offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. There's till no roadside assist offered for free, though, so you have to pay extra for it.
The first five service intervals are capped at $195 each so, if you're lucky, five years of servicing will only sting you $975. Intervals are set at 12 months/15,000km.
Kia offers one of the best ownership plans in the business, with a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan backed by seven years’ roadside assist if you keep your logbook stamped by Kia dealers, and a seven-year capped price service plan.
The cost varies depending on whether you choose the four-cylinder or the V6, but the intervals are the same: both four- and six-cylinder models require maintenance every 12 months or 10,000km (whichever comes first). That’s shorter than most Kia models, which only need servicing annually or every 15,000km.
The four-cylinder models are more affordable to own due to a lower average service cost of $451, compared with the six-cylinder version at $487.
If you’re worried about Kia Stinger problems - be it engine problems, transmission problems, suspension issues, quality complaints (like that yellow paint issue) or any other type of reliability complication - check our Kia Stinger problems page. Don’t forget that old-school owners manual in the glovebox, where you’ll be able to find out what sort of replacement battery you’ll need, also what oil type is required.
As for resale value? That’s a bit of guesswork, given the car hasn’t been on sale all that long. But Glass's Guide’s depreciation calculator suggests the following: for a GT model after three years/50,000km, you should expect a trade-in price of just $21,200, or a private price of $26,000.
Thinking a base model 200S might be a good buy? Maybe wait three years, because the predicted resale value is just $15,800 as a trade-in, and only $19,500 retail (and you'll still have four year's worth of warranty!).