Power and performance
The Stinger’s engine bay is home to the same 3.3-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 that’s powered GT1 and GT2 models since this model’s inception. With a mild bump to 368 horsepower (just 3 more than before) and 376 pound-feet of torque on tap, the V6 remains a fantastic powerplant boasting excellent responsiveness and thrust for days to go along with the rich sound piped through its valved exhaust system at full chat. An 8-speed automatic is standard equipment and is about as good as I could hope a torque-converter transmission could be, delivering quick, smooth shifts and fairly responsive paddle shifters.
Shoppers have a choice between rear-wheel drive with a limited-slip differential or brake-based torque-vectoring all-wheel drive. Having driven both configurations, rear-drive is the more fun of the two and the way to go, unless you live in an area where the climate calls for the extra stability of AWD. The rear-wheel-driven Stinger just feels much more alive during dynamic driving thanks to a combination of a slightly lighter chassis and a simpler, more direct drivetrain. The way the RWD Stinger puts its power down — squatting slightly onto its drive wheels and digging in as I roll onto the throttle at corner exit — creates a more dramatic feeling of rotation and a more direct connection with the road than the more neutral AWD performance. Plus, being able to scoot out the rear end a touch with the right pedal is just fun.
Two fewer drive wheels also pays off with a slight boost in efficiency, though the difference is subtle enough that your driving style probably makes a bigger difference in the real world. The RWD Stinger GT1/GT2 returns an EPA estimated 18 miles per gallon city, 25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined or 17 city, 24 highway and 20 mpg combined with AWD.
Selectable drive modes — Sport, Smart and Eco — each feel distinct, allowing me to customize the responsiveness of the throttle and the behavior of the electronically controlled suspension to the task, whether that be commuting or carving corners. However, even at its sportiest, the Stinger never feels harsh over the bumps and cracked asphalt of my favorite Bay Area backroad and it still exhibits a bit of body roll when pushed. Track-day bros will likely frown at that aspect of this car’s dynamics for its perceived performance compromise, but drivers enjoying the grand touring aspects of the Stinger’s performance on the road will appreciate it for helping boost comfort and defining the limits of this car’s performance envelope.
Personally, I think a little body roll isn’t a bad thing — it certainly didn’t take away from my enjoyment. However, I wish Kia had upgraded the Stinger’s brakes. As is, the GT’s Brembo performance brakes do a fantastic job shaving off speed, but still heat up quite a bit when driven hard, causing just a hint of fade and triggering memories of the brake shake that came and went during our 2018 model’s long-term testing.
Cabin and safety tech
The Stinger’s design hasn’t changed much for this 2022 mid-cycle refresh. On the outside, you’ll find Kia’s new logo between newly standard LED headlamps. Out back, the Kia badge has been dropped for a large, scripted “Stinger” that fits beneath the new light bar that connects the redesigned taillamps.
Inside, the biggest change is the move to a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment, which replaces both the old 7- and 8-inch systems, standardizing the cabin tech for all Stinger models and making choosing one of the lower trim levels less of a compromise. The updated interface is responsive and smartly organized and comes standard with onboard navigation and wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
Surrounding that dashboard is a handsome cabin featuring standard leather upholstery. The cockpit’s simple design has, so far, stood the test of time and doesn’t look too dated, especially with the enlarged display and the GT2 spec’s upgraded Nappa leather seats. The GT2 also adds ventilation and improved articulation to the standard heated front seats and heated surfaces for rear passengers as well. The heated steering wheel option, however, is oddly bundled with AWD for all trim levels.
A touch large for its class, the Stinger offers plenty of leg and shoulder room, but its low-slung, fastback profile somewhat compromises headroom for taller passengers, especially on the second row. Of course, the liftback is also one of the Stinger’s strongest points, opening wider than a conventional trunk to reveal a massive 23.3 cubic foot rear cargo area (40.9 cubes with the rear seats folded) that rivals even some small SUVs.
Kia’s Drive Wise suite of driver assist technologies is also standard, rolling in forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with lane centering assist, driver attention monitoring, automatic high beams, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to upgrade to the GT2 trim is the addition of adaptive cruise control, which works even in stop-and-go traffic. Stepping up to the top spec also enhances the standard rear camera with surround-view 360-degree camera coverage and upgrades to Kia’s Blind Spot View Monitor system that drops a camera feed of the adjacent lane into the enlarged 7-inch instrument cluster display whenever the turn signal is activated.
Fantastic sport sedan
The 2022 Kia Stinger starts at $37,365 (including $1,075 destination charge) for the base GT-Line model — which is more compelling than ever thanks to its more potent turbo four-cylinder powertrain — with the GT1 model upgrading to the twin-turbo V6 for $44,965. This top-spec GT2 steps up the creature comforts for $52,565 or $53,110 as tested with Hichroma Red paint and floor mats. If you want or need all-wheel drive, factor in $2,200 more.
I’ve found that the price tag is what gives pause to most people I talk to about the Stinger; the prospect of paying over $50K for a Kia that isn’t an SUV is just too much for some to swallow. However, the Stinger GT2 punches above its station, competing with the likes of Audi’s S5 Sportback (a prior Editors’ Choice pick) and BMW’s M440i Gran Coupe where performance and features are concerned, and it does so for around $10,000 less when comparably equipped. Viewed through that lens, the GT2 is a bargain, though I’d probably still recommend the sweet-spot GT1, which boasts all of the performance while only missing a few bells and whistles.
The 2022 Kia Stinger continues to be an excellent choice for a daily driver and the GT1 and GT2 models’ balance of performance, comfort and value leave little to be desired. If you’re shopping in America’s shrinking sport sedan corner of the market, the Stinger should definitely be on your shortlist.