The Kia Stinger has now been on sale in the U.S. for five model years, but it remains an unlikely offering from the South Korean automaker. Its four-door coupe styling, hatchback versatility and rear-wheel-drive-based platform mimics four-door coupes from German luxury brands at a fraction of the price. That formula holds for the 2022 Stinger, which gets a more powerful base engine, new tech features and minor exterior and interior styling changes.
Related: Kia Gives 2022 Stinger More Bite With Extra Power, Style
A new 300-horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is the big news for 2022, and this is the engine we tested. It goes in the GT-Line trim level and is available with rear- or all-wheel drive. Here are five things you should know about Kia’s mid-size performance car if you’re considering it:
1. Exceptional Steering Feel, Responsiveness
The Stinger’s steering tuning is one of its most impressive attributes. The steering wheel has a natural heft to it, and the car responds immediately as you turn the wheel. The Stinger feels like a sports sedan from the driver’s seat, and its steering is a key reason why.
2. New Turbo Four-Cylinder Is Plenty Powerful
The new turbo 2.5-liter four-cylinder is an impressive engine, so much so that I didn’t miss the Stinger’s optional 368-hp, twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6. It has good reserve power for high-speed passing, and it teams with a responsive eight-speed automatic transmission that readily kicks down when you need more power.
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder’s 300 hp and 311 pounds-feet of torque is 45 hp and 51 pounds-feet more than the outgoing turbo 2.0-liter, but despite the bump in power, EPA-estimated combined gas mileage is the same: 25 mpg for rear-drive versions and 24 mpg with all-wheel drive.
3. Visibility Problems
The Stinger is long and low, and its fastback roofline makes it look sleeker than the typical mid-size car. The penalty for that look, however, is restricted outward visibility — particularly if you like to drive with the seat in a higher position.
The car’s raked windshield offers a slotlike view forward, and the rearview mirror can block your view to the point where you sometimes must look around it to fully see what’s in front of you. The low roofline and short side windows reduce visibility, too, and it can feel a bit claustrophobic in the cabin. The rear roof pillars are large, and even though the rear hatch window is big, it’s angled in such a way that it seems much smaller when checking what’s behind you from the driver’s seat.
4. Good Cargo Versatility
The cargo area under the rear hatch isn’t very tall, but its hatchback body style increases the Stinger’s versatility. The cargo area measures 15.1 cubic feet, according to Cars.com’s cargo measurements, and the standard 60/40-split rear backseat folds nearly flat with the cargo floor when you need more cargo space.
5. Sensible Tech
All trim levels have a 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system that includes navigation, satellite radio capability and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity. It’s an intuitive system that includes physical controls where they make sense, including knobs for volume and station tuning. There aren’t any touch-sensitive controls in the interior aside from the screen, and as more new cars load up on touch controls, the relative simplicity of the Stinger’s buttons, knobs and switches is welcome.
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Is It Worth Nearly $40,000?
The Stinger GT-Line starts at $37,365 (including $1,075 destination charge), but optional features raised the price of our RWD test car to $39,945. Kia has proven it can sell vehicles at near-luxury prices — witness the success of its Telluride three-row SUV, for example — but convincing luxury shoppers to consider the Stinger (or mainstream buyers to stay with Kia rather than move up to a luxury brand) is a tall order. That, along with dwindling interest in cars in general versus trucks and SUVs, is borne out in the Stinger’s modest sales of 13,517 for all of 2021.
That said, you can spend more than the as-tested price of our Stinger on cars from luxury brands that are less enjoyable to drive and less versatile. That doesn’t seem like a great idea, and it makes a Stinger test drive all the more worthwhile.
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