Kia Stinger — Still one of our favorite rides

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(February 20, 2022) For most of the 21st Century Kia has been among the best at vehicle design — inside and out. Perhaps the leading example of its styling prowess over the past two decades is the mid-sized Stinger sports sedan that came to market as a 2018 model. It has an aggressive yet graceful design that skillfully incorporates a cargo-friendly hatchback. Over the past five years the Stinger has remained mostly the same — with a few exterior tweaks — but still has a fresh head-turning persona.



For 2022, the sports sedan has been revamped with new design details that offer a more upscale appearance. It also gets several technologically advanced driver assistance systems as standard equipment. But the biggest change is a more powerful standard 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque.

That's a 45-horsepower gain over the outgoing 2.0-liter engine and a 0-to-60 time of around 5 seconds. At the same time the top engine, a 3-3-liter twin-turbo V-6, gets a slight three horsepower boost to 368. That's good for a 0-to-60 time in low-four-second territory, capable of holding its own against virtually all the comparable German and Japanese competition. And when you figure in a starting price under $38,000 for the 300-hp model and $45,000 for the bigger engine, you have the makings of the best sports sedan bargain on the planet.

Driver assistance systems that are now standard across the lineup include automatic emergency braking, blindspot collision avoidance and lane keeping assist.

The Stinger comes in three trims — the GT (turbo 4), and GT1 and GT2 with the 3.3-liter V-6.

“The Stinger confidently shows Kia’s ability to build a sport sedan that can compete — and beat — the best the world has to offer. It is definitive proof of our proud and evolving engineering prowess,” said Sean Yoon, president & CEO, Kia Motors North America, about the 2022 model.
The Stinger will get your attention with its low, wide stance, aggressive grille treatment and fastback roofline.

From the rear, the Stinger's broad shoulders and quad pipes give the perception of an expensive European sports sedan. For us another strong selling point is the sedan's well-disguised hatchback design that offers the practicality of more storage space not available in a traditional sedan.

We think the Stinger is the perfect size stretching out 190 inches with a wheels-pushed-to-the-corners wheelbase of 114.4 inches. The new right-size Kia seats four adults with amble cargo space (23.3 cubic feet) under the rear hatch. And its well-balanced rear-drive chassis is shared with the award-winning Genesis G70.

We drove the 3.3-liter Stinger during our test week and found that in addition to exciting straight ahead performance — the GT2 with rear-wheel drive has been measured from 0-to-60 in 4.4 seconds and through a quarter mile in 12.9 seconds at 111 mph — the Stinger has the ability to carve up a winding rural blacktop with the best of the European and Japanese sport sedans. We found steering and suspension feedback excellent on our usual back-road "test track." And on serious curves the Stinger just hunkers down offering ample grip.

Kia gives the driver the opportunity to program the car the way they prefer with five drive modes — Comfort, Sport, Smart, Eco and Custom. Switching between the drive modes affects transmission programming, throttle tuning, and steering weight. While the Custom mode allows drivers to mix and match each of the settings separately we did most of our driving in the Sport mode

If you want ample power, but don't need the cutting edge performance of the muscular V-6, the new turbocharged 4 will adequately meet your needs. For comparison purposes, the 2.5-liter has been measured from 0-to-60 in about 5 seconds. It can be ordered with all the technology and safety goodies available on the GT1 and GT2 including the drive modes.  And it has some advantages including a starting price of $37,365 and improved gas mileage of 22 mpg city, 32 highway and 25 combined on premium gas compared to the GT mileage of 18/25/20. Both models can be equipped with all-wheel drive.

The interior is attractive and well laid out with actual knobs and buttons for audio turning and volume and climate control. The now standard 10.25-inch infotainment screen sits high in the center of the dash, and the steering wheel controls include audio and adaptive cruise controls. There are three USB ports and all models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Our test car had the excellent-sounding 15-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, head-up display, surround-view monitor, heated and cooled Nappa leather seats, and heated rear outboard seats.

While we very much like its platform mate, the Genesis G70, but we would opt for the Stinger because of increased adult-sized legroom in back and the extra cargo area the hatchback design brings. Cargo capacity is more than most sedans with a trunk regardless of size, measuring 23.3 cubic feet. The rear setbacks can be folded to increase capacity. One sour note — head room is compromised in back because of the fastback design. And you will quickly learn to lean your head to the right to get into the front seats because of the sloping windshield.

Our loaded top-line GT2 test car carried a bottom line of $53,110. Edmunds says expect to pay about $2,000 over list price in the current market.

The Stinger has been and still is our favorite mainstream vehicle, a niche sedan for people who want something that's sportier and more fun to drive than a typical midsize sedan, but don't have the budget to get a luxury segment vehicle.

FYI — There are rumors that Kia may discontinue the Stinger. We're not sure why since it's based on the Genesis G70 sedan and should do well on a future G70 platform. Being a niche vehicle, it generated 13,517 sales in 2021, about average for its four-year history. Its initial year of 2018 was its best with 16,806 units sold.  

2022 Kia Stinger GT2


Base price: $37,365; as driven, $53,110
Engine: Twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6
Horsepower: 368 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 376 pound-feet @ 1,300 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 114.4 inches
Length: 190.2 inches
Curb weight: 3,829 pounds
Turning circle: 38,4 feet
Luggage capacity: 23.3 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 15.9 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 18 city, 25 highway, 20 combined
0-60: 4.4 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Audi A5, BMW M440i, Nissan Maxima

The Good
• Outstanding performance from V-6
• More powerful turbocharged 4-cylinder
• Head-turning styling
• Hatchback utility

The Bad

• Lacks cachet of German brands

The Ugly
• Gas-mileage challenged