Kia Stinger Super Bowl Ad With Steven Tyler Is One to Watch

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Big game commercial shows rockstar aging in reverse, which is how we felt during a recent Stinger GT first drive.

If I hadn’t driven the McLaren 570S Spider at the end of 2017, the Kia Stinger GT, without a doubt, would have been my personal 2017 car of the year. Kia knocked it out of the park with the Stinger GT. Its 365-horsepower, 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 makes it a certifiable four-door sports car that achieves a ride/handling balance akin to cars costing more than twice as much. The Stinger GT is the best car you can buy for $40,000. The Kia Stinger GT is also the best car you can buy for $50,000 … but people react to it like it’s a $200,000 car.

With a machine that hits it out of the park as well as the Stinger GT, you’ve got to match that with a fine audio system. Harman Kardon recently invited us to a Kia Stinger GT first-drive event where they showed off their state-of-the-art Northridge, CA headquarters and testing facilities. We had a great time seeing all the research and development that goes into Harman Kardon OEM car audio, but our focus for the day was driving what’s arguably the hottest Kia ever built, and seeing just how good that 15-speaker, 720-watt audio system actually is.

Kia Stinger GT

In two words: holy crap! The Stinger GT’s Harman Kardon audio stands proud among the five best OEM car audio systems I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been a Bose fan all my life, and I enjoy the Performance Series audio systems they’ve got in the Infiniti Q60 and the all-new QX50, but Kia’s system sounds a class above the Infiniti/Bose systems.

What I especially appreciate is how Harman Kardon places low-, mid- and high-frequency speakers in each door. Many automakers with premium audio systems fail to be as comprehensive. Having full-range sound emanating from each door creates a full-bodied, spatial ambiance that fewer speakers and clever digital signal processing can’t match. As a result, the Kia Stinger envelops passengers in beautiful audio, while at the same time balancing that fullness with a clear, properly placed sound stage. I could tell a little expense was spared, however, as I’ve heard more clarity from the Mark Levinson audio in the Lexus LC 500. Still, the Stinger GT offered a better-balanced virtual sound stage thanks to its roomier interior.

Kia Stinger GT - CarBlog

The Stinger’s audio system would be fine with just three speakers in each of the four doors and a center-channel speaker on the dash, but to really complete the package, Harman Kardon placed a subwoofer under the driver’s seat and passenger’s seat. Some, more than others, may enjoy the vibrations that result from the under-seat subwoofer placement, but most importantly, having subwoofers underneath the seats allows the low-frequency sound waves to travel more efficiently through the cabin, creating a more balanced bass response no matter where you sit.

With the recent launch of the Steven Tyler Super Bowl commercial, it reminded me of how I felt when blasting my favorite tunes in the Kia Stinger. Not only will blasting along Mulholland in the Stinger make you feel like you’re aging in reverse, but so will cruising along PCH listening to your favorite music.

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