2022 Kia Stinger Review

2022 Kia Stinger - Get one while you can.


The Kia Stinger is a five-passenger midsize liftback sedan that debuted for the 2018 model year. It received a slight refresh in 2020 with revised lights in front and back and a new infotainment screen. In 2021 it received the new Kia logo and for 2022 it continues to evolve with a new standard LED daytime running light signature, standard rear LED taillamps with a new design that spans the width of the tailgate, new 18 and 19-inch wheel designs, and a more aggressive exhaust tip.

It is available in three trims known as the GT-Line, GT1, and GT2. GT-Line models come with a 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder that nets 300 horsepower. GT1 & GT2 models deliver 368 horsepower via a 3.3L turbocharged V6 engine. All models are available with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and mate to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Prices start at $36,290 for RWD GT-Line and climb as high as $53,690 for an AWD GT2. Sedan competition is shrinking, and the Stinger sits in a niche segment as a performance liftback. It's most likely competitors include the Nissan Maxima and Volkswagen Arteon, but also more luxury brand models like the Acura TLX, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Genesis G70, and Infiniti Q50. I spent a week in a base RWD GT-Line and here's what stood out...

Striking Exterior (+)
The Stinger has a head-turning design that will surprise most people when you tell them it's a Kia. In fact, the night I pulled up in an Ascot Green Stinger, my neighbors thought I was driving a new Jaguar and had to come check it out. While not a high-volume car for Kia, it has been an important one to help shift how buyers perceive the brand. It's only been on the market for four years, but Kia has kept it fresh with small updates each year.

It features a long 114.4" wheelbase with a short front overhang and longer rear overhang. It has a wide stance that looks aggressive and muscular. Standard LED lightning up front features a new signature including a net-like design for the amber turn signals. The Kia tiger nose grille is well-proportioned in the front fascia that comes up high into the fenders. The side profile is striking with the sloped roof that swoops down to the back. It's accented by a chrome strip that follows the line to the base of the rear window. A character line and accent piece on the lower half give it a strong presence and the LED taillights wrap around into the rear fenders. Around back the LED lights now extend across the hatch with Stinger below it and centered in its own font. Quad exhaust tips have been revised and are encompassed in the rear bumper.

Liftback Design (+)
Hatchbacks have never really caught on in the US and liftbacks are even more rare. A liftback is a variation of hatchback with a sloping roofline between 45 to 5 degrees. Traditional hatchback designs usually have a 90-to-46-degree slope. Besides being unique, it's also more functional with cargo capacity at 23.3 cu.ft of space behind the rear seats and 40.9 cu.ft with the seats folded down. These numbers are more than almost any other midsize sedan on the market. The wide opening also makes it easy to load and a hands-free power liftgate is also available.

Wheels (+)
The Stinger comes with either 18 or 19" alloy wheels that complement the car. The 18" GT-Line wheels are directional two-toned black and machine-faced finished that look like they are in motion even when parked. The five-star GT wheels look and feel very premium and could be placed on a luxury brand performance sedan.

Performance (+)
The Stinger is available with two powertrains that are both impressive. I spent a small amount of time in the 368 horsepower V6 and was blown away with how it handled the track at Road America. And the electronic variable exhaust system delivers a nice meaty sound as you hit the gas. The V6 drives and handles like a performance car as it grips the road. The adaptive suspension delivers a smooth ride that glides around turns. It was a treat to drive on a racetrack.

For this review, I spent time in the 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder which was, in some ways, more surprising. The 4-cylinder manages to pump out 300 horsepower and 376 lb.ft. of torque for an estimated 0-60 time of 5.2 seconds... much quicker than I expected and only .5 seconds slower than the V6. Overall horsepower is up 45 from the previous 2021 models 2.0T.  While the exhaust isn't as throaty as the V6, it still sounds good and will catch some attention. The 8-speed automatic shifts smoothly and appropriately. The ride is smooth and responsive with an engaging drive that is connected to the road. Handling is responsive with well-weighted steering that is fun to whip around some corners. It's a larger car that handles more like a refined compact sedan, which is why it's often compared to Germans like the BMW 3-Series or Audi A4. It also comes with paddle shifters for manual shifting which enhances the fun. There are five drive modes that include Eco, Smart, Comfort, Sport, and Custom that will automatically shift the dynamics to cater to your preferred driving.

Fuel Economy (+/-)
When the Stinger arrived with a full 15.9-gallon tank it offered a range of just under 400 miles. EPA estimates are 22/32/25 MPG city/highway/combined for the 4-cylinder and premium fuel is recommended. After a week of spirited suburban driving, I averaged 24 MPG. These ratings are average among its competitors and the premium fuel will cost a bit more.

Interior Refinement (+/-)
The overall design feels sporty with a traditional cluster that features a larger 4.2" center information screen. Sitting atop the dash is a standard 10.25" touchscreen with three circular air vents below it. Materials are class appropriate, but not overly impressive like materials found in a Mazda. Control placement is functional, and the T-shaped gear selector had a retro-muscle car nostalgia feel. Adding to the sporty feel was a flat-bottom steering wheel and a mix of materials that included leather and silver brightwork.

Technology (+/-)
Tech was on par with competitors as the Stinger's standard 10.25" touchscreen (an upgrade from the old 8" screen) integrates with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay via a cord connection. It also offers multi-connection Bluetooth wireless connectivity, wireless phone charger, steering wheel controls, and an available Harman-Kardon premium audio system. Kia also offers a 7" center cluster with video view for the blind spot monitoring with a live video view of adjacent lanes that is activated via the turn signal.  Kia's UVO Connect system is easy to use and provides additional information including real-time maps, weather, predicted traffic, and more.

Interior Space (+)
Like Kia's midsize Telluride crossover, they have maximized the interior space to provide an abundance of passenger space. It seats five people comfortably with plenty of leg, head, and shoulder room up front. The seats are supportive and well-positioned with adjustable controls. Rear seats offer a good amount of legroom, but head room may be tight for taller adults due to the sloping roof. Leather upholstery, a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a six-way manually adjustable passenger seat, heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are standard. Available upgrades include Nappa leather, ventilated front seats, a 16-way power adjustable driver's seat, power adjustable passenger seat, heated rear seats and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. An optional wide type sunroof provides greenhouse lighting and plenty of fresh air. My kids had plenty of room across the back and the extra cargo space was great for school carpools.

Safety (+)

Standard on all models is Kia's Drive Wise driver assist technology that includes blind-spot collision avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic avoidance assist, safe exit warning, forward collision-avoidance with pedestrian & cyclist detection, smart cruise control, lane keep assist and lane departure warning. Other available features that are standard on the GT2 are parking distance warning (forward), surround view monitor, and a head-up display. NHTSA safety ratings are 5/5 stars in overall, side crash, and rollover. It gets 4/5 stars in frontal crash ratings along with a superior front crash prevention result from IIHS.

Final Statement

The Kia Stinger is a sleeper car that will impress and surprise you. It looks good in all trims with precise attention to the details. Kia has kept it fresh annually by updating the lighting, wheels, and logo. With an affordable starting price, it packs a lot into the base GT-Line that won't disappoint and the high end GT2 is on par with more costly luxury vehicles. This car is a ton of fun to drive while still providing space to haul family or cargo. Unfortunately, it appears to be on the chopping block due to low sales and lack of interest in sedans, so get one while you can!

First Impression Summary
Test Vehicle:
2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD
Exterior Color: Ascot Green
Interior Color: Black leather
Options: Sun & sound package ($2,300)
MSRP as tested: $39,715 (With Delivery/Destination)

Jim OBrill

Jim is Director of Marketing for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and Chicago Auto Show and a co-host of Drive Chicago Radio on WLS 890 AM Chicago. His passion for cars started young and he’s often referred to as the ‘car-guy’ among family and friends. As a former auto detailer, he has an eye for identifying solid used cars and tags along on many car buying adventures. Early in his career he worked at several car dealerships in various areas of the business. As a co-host on Drive Chicago and member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, Jim has had opportunities to attend track school and drive vehicles on multiple circuits such as Road America and Gingerman Raceway. With a background in photography, taking pictures of vehicles has always been a hobby.

Jim also enjoys the trails and taking trucks like his 4Runner off road. He has a special appreciation for older cars and can often be found spending free time at cruise nights or home washing one his four vehicles. Jim resides in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three kids. Follow Jim on Instagram at @jpcars22 for new vehicle content or @forgotten_survivors.312 for shots of older cars still on the streets of Chicagoland.