Road Test: 2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD

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by Kivi

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10.05.2021

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Serious, Affordable Performance

All-new in 2018, the 2022 Kia Stinger continues to turn heads by those that know cars. This coupe-like sedan was Kia’s first entry into the five-passenger, four-door sportback GT world–and they got it right. Sharp-looking, powerful and affordable (with a base price of $36,090), this gran turismo has a place in both around-town and open road driving. The Stinger is available in three trim levels–GT-Line, GT1, and GT2–with choices of two engines and either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. Designed in Kia’s Frankfurt, Germany, design studio and built in Sohari, Korea, the Stinger is truly a world car.

2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD
Kia’s Stinger is designed to take on the world

Powertrain

Clean Fleet Report spent a fun week in the 2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD. The entry-level Stinger we drove was equipped with a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, good for a robust 300 horsepower (hp) and 311 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. The rear wheels were driven through an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and driver-selectable drive modes of Eco, Smart, Custom, Comfort and Sport. The Stinger GT1 and GT2 come with a 3.3L twin turbo V6 putting out 368 hp and 376 lb.-ft. of torque, using the same eight-speed automatic.

2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD
Spooled up and ready to roar

The strong acceleration was impressively smooth once the turbo spooled-up, taking our Stinger GT-Line from 0-60 in under six seconds. The power comes on aggressively and easily, with potent acceleration that grows as the smooth eight-speed automatic transmission seamlessly goes through the gears. There was no reason to use the paddle shifters as they would not have improved upon the performance of this polished transmission. The paddle shifters were fun when attacking corners, allowing the driver to control the power to the rear wheels.

Fuel economy for the Stinger GT-Line is EPA rated at 22 mpg city/32 highway/25 combined. Running on 91 octane, over 249 miles we averaged 26.2 mpg, and 33.0 mpg on a 140-mile freeway run using the adaptive cruise control set at 65 mph. Fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific and represent the reviewer’s driving experience using the dash gauge computer. Your numbers may differ.

The Stinger GT-Line is so much fun to drive that fuel economy may become a secondary thought, but it is nice to know on a long haul exceeding 30 mpg is a realistic goal.

Driving Experience: On the Road

The five driver-controlled drive modes of Eco, Smart, Comfort, Sport and Custom are pretty self-explanatory. Eco and Smart are good for around town or freeway driving to maximize fuel efficiency, but Sport mode is where Clean Fleet Report liked to hang-out for maximum performance. Results: the Stinger GT-Line with the 2.5L turbo can get it on.

2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD
Set to go places

The ride is never harsh, even on Southern California’s grooved concrete freeways. One way to ensure a comfortable ride is to select the Comfort drive mode setting. Going from Sport to Comfort delivers a change in ride feel, but doesn’t compromise normal traffic handling situations. Wind noise is unnoticeable, helped by the car’s 0.30 Cd (coefficient of drag).

The suspension of front MacPherson struts and a multi-link rear, with gas-filled shock absorbers and electronic stability control, was well mated to the 18-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels and 225/45 Bridgestone Potenza summer tires. The electric power steering could be a bit heavier in Sport mode, but was generally neutral in its settings so as not to lose road feel and feedback.

The Stinger GT-Line is nicely balanced and can be driven hard into corners. There was a little pushing on the higher speed corners, but this at-speed cornering ability translates into the car being very civil when tooling around town. Remember, the Stinger with the optional AWD would make the cornering even better. Something to consider when specing-out your Stinger.

Stopping was consistent, which is important on a car that can be pushed. The four-wheel front and rear vented disc brakes had ABS and brake fade compensation with traction and cornering brake control. All-in-all, this is a seriously nice, 3,600-pound sports sedan that is very well-mannered, offering an exhilarating driving experience.

Driving Experience: Exterior

2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD
A true GT (even with the fake scoops)

This is a true GT as it seats four, has ample luggage storage space and provides comfortable and spirited long-distance driving. The Stinger GT-Line is a fine example of a gran turismo, offering power and good handling dynamics of a sporty car, with fine driving attributes when hitting the open road. Some sport sedans have a trade-off of comfort over performance, the Stinger GT-Line offers both.

The Stinger GT-Line has a classic design with a long hood and short overhangs, giving it a sleek and modern visual. The front twin grilles are restrained in size, framed by LED headlamps and daytime running lights. The front fascia has large functional air intakes on each corner, but the hood has faux air inlets that break-up a smooth continuous plane. From the side, the front fenders have functioning vents, and a nice line that runs the full-length along the lower doors. Ours, painted in a very attractive Ascot Green, repeatedly drew attention.

The roofline’s high-point sits over the front doors, with the small optional power sunroof that, while offering a bit of the great outdoors into the cabin, when open interrupts the sleek design. The short-as-can-be power trunk lid, which is actually the trailing end of the hatch, has a subtle lip with LED tail, turn signal and brake lights wrapping onto the quarter panels. The rear fascia houses quad, chrome exhaust tips.

Driving Experience: Interior

Clean Fleet Report’s Stinger GT-Line RWD was nicely outfitted in its base trim, but came with the Sun and Sound Package, a $2,300 option, that added the power sunroof, power adjustable front passenger seat and the Harmon-Kardon premium audio system. Could you live without this optional package? Sure, but why scrimp when each of these will make ownership so much more enjoyable.

2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD
A sound worth upgrading for

The front seats, 12-way for the driver and eight-way for the passenger, are power adjustable and heated. They were wide, soft, supportive and comfortable. The perforated and heated leather-wrapped, flat bottom, multi-function steering wheel included controls for the audio, telephone and voice controls. The soft and hard interior surfaces have top stitching, with trim and accents in black high gloss, aluminum and satin chrome.

The rear seats, with a large center arm rest, comfortably handled two adults. When the rear 60/40 rear seat was folded down, access through the large hatch opening made for easy cargo loading.

The cockpit design is driver-friendly, featuring large analog gauges for easy reading. The interior has a dual-zone automatic climate system with adjustable rear vents, power windows, door locks and mirrors, logo-embroidered carpet mats, electronic parking brake, remote access with push button stop/start, folding heated power side mirrors and multiple cup holders. The interior multi-color LED lighting on the instrument panel and front doors was a nice touch, as were the aluminum pedals, which included a large dead pedal. A head-up display is only available on the Stinger GT2 model (Clean Fleet Report wishes it was standard for all Stingers).

The 720-watt, 15-speaker Harmon Kardon Quantum Logic surround sound audio system was viewed on a 10.25-inch color touchscreen with navigation. The sound was wonderful with multiple tweeters, under-seat mounted sub-woofers and a 12-channel external amp. The volume and channel knobs made operating the system a breeze. Sounds came from the FM/HDAM radio with an MP3 auxiliary audio jack, USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and SiriusXM included for 90 days. Music streaming is via Bluetooth wireless technology; the hands-free phone and voice recognition worked perfectly. The wireless phone charger helped keep the cockpit uncluttered.

The UVO telematics allows for remote setting of the climate control, locking and unlocking the doors, Find My Car, and other convenience features.

Safety

2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD
A hatch to hold everything

The 2021 Stinger comes with front, seat-mounted, driver knee and full side curtain air bags, and the Drive Wise advanced driver assist system (ADAS). Safety features included forward collision warning and avoidance, lane departure and driver attention warning, lane keep assist, blind spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic collision and parking distance warning, and pedestrian forward collision avoidance.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2021 Stinger five stars, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded it as a Top Safety Pick. Both are their highest overall safety ratings.

Pricing and Warranties

2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD
A fun week

The 2021 Stinger comes in three trim levels–GT-Line, GT1 and GT2, each with front or all-wheel drive and with two engine choices. Base prices, before options, but including the $1,045 destination charge, range from $37,135 to $54,535. Clean Fleet Report’s 2021 Stinger GT-Line RWD had a MSRP, with $2,580 in options and the $1,045 destination charge, of $39,715.

The 2021 Stinger comes with these warranties.

  • Powertrain – 10 years/100,000 miles
  • Basic – Five years/60,000 miles
  • Roadside – Five years/60,000 miles

Observations: 2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD

The 2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD doesn’t disappoint. The performance, comfort, drivability and great design all make it a worthy contender among sport sedans such as the Audi A7, BMW 330i, and the Genesis G70. But when considering the value-for-price and the outstanding warranty, it becomes hard to resist, especially when comparing the horsepower and useable interior space.

So, if the thought of being bold and not buying a SUV ever crosses your mind, and you decide to let your fun side come out, then the Kia Stinger with a premium look and feel might be your next car.

Make sure to opt-in to the Clean Fleet Report newsletter (top right of page) to be notified of all new stories and vehicle reviews.

Story by John Faulkner. Photos by Lex Adams.

Related stories—Sporty Car Stories

Road Test: 2019 Genesis G70

Road Test: 2018 Audi A5

Road Test: 2016 Nissan Maxima

Road Test: 2016 Lexus GS F

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

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