The 2019 Kia Stinger Gets IIHS' Top Safety Award, but Its Headlight Ratings Are All Over the Place

The 2019 Kia Stinger.
The 2019 Kia Stinger.
Image: Kia

The Kia Stinger is a great car that might not do a few things enthusiasts would like, such as come with a manual or offer its 365-horsepower turbocharged V6 for less than $40,000. But if there’s one thing the Stinger can do, it can protect its occupants well in a crash—even if its headlight quality is all over the place.


That’s according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, at least, which announced last week that it gave certain specs of the 2019 Stinger its top award, the “Top Safety Pick+.” That only applies for Stingers with specific options, though, so don’t think you’ll be able to skip around whistling about your top safety awards if you opt for the $33,000 base version of the car.

The Stinger comes in five trims for the 2019 model year, with the bottom “2.0L” and “Premium” trims having a 255-HP, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and the top GT, GT1 and GT2 trims getting the turbocharged V6. All of them got the IIHS’ top rating, “Good,” in its six crashworthiness tests, but different trims got different scores in terms of crash-prevention technology and headlights—both required for that “Top Safety Pick+” marker.

For buyers who opt for Kia’s forward-collision avoidance tech with pedestrian detection, here’s what IIHS said about it:

The Stinger’s available front crash prevention system earns a superior rating in IIHS tests. The vehicle avoided collisions in 12 mph and 25 mph track tests and has a forward collision warning component that meets the criteria set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Headlights, though, are trickier. Some versions of the car got IIHS’ top rating, hence the safety award, while others got its lowest—something that probably shouldn’t happen on a vehicle that starts at just under $33,000. But the best headlight ratings didn’t always go to the most expensive trims.

The base 2.0L trim, according to IIHS, comes with halogen headlights that got its lowest “Poor” rating in testing. Low beams had “inadequate” visibility on straight roads and curved ones, while the high beams ranged from “inadequate” to “fair.” The various LED headlights on the Premium, GT, GT1 and that are optional on the 2.0L trim all got “Good” ratings from IIHS, while the LEDs on the top, $50,000 GT2 trim got IIHS’ second-best rating, “Acceptable.”


Even still, the Stinger is a good sport sedan Kia didn’t have to make—especially given how few people gravitate toward anything with “sport” or “sedan” in the name these days. And even if some of its headlights aren’t great, the deals on dealership lots are.


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Headlight types really shouldn’t differ with trim levels. That’s like getting a safer seat belt only if you opt for the premium model.