2021 Kia Stinger

2021 Kia Stinger Review: Pretty, Good

Think back 15 years ago, and we would never have suspected that the Kia Stinger, a stunningly pretty luxury sport sedan, would be a worthy alternative to the likes of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and Audi A5 Sportback. Yet that's what today's automotive landscape features, and although Kia still has some way to go in terms of true luxury and handling to be a direct rival to those German fastback sedans, it is still a compelling choice. Two engines are offered this year, although a new 2.5-liter turbo variant is coming for the 2022 update. For now, you have a choice of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque and a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 with 365 hp and 376 lb-ft. Both are offered with rear-wheel drive as standard and with the option of an all-wheel-drive system. So can a relatively low price and stunning bodywork make up for minor inadequacies in other respects, or is buying German still the best way to enjoy luxury features and an engaging drive?

Read in this review:

2021 Kia Stinger Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Stinger?

As mentioned above, the Kia Stinger is getting updated for 2022 and will be lightly facelifted. For now, the new Kia Stinger for 2021 carries over unchanged from what came the year before. However, last year's GT2-only Federation Orange paint choice has been removed from the configurator.

Pros and Cons

  • Stunning design
  • Spacious cabin
  • Plenty of standard features
  • Impressive handling
  • V6 engine is fun
  • Maximum attack driving can unsettle the chassis
  • Interior is less than adequate in this class
  • Infotainment system is a tad slow

Best Deals on Stinger

2021 Kia Stinger Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
GT-Line
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$33,090
GT
3.3L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$39,500
GT1
3.3L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$45,490
GT2
3.3L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$50,390

Stinger Sedan Exterior

The exterior of the 2021 Stinger still looks as gorgeous as when we first saw it in 2017, and that Tiger Nose front grille looks more at home here than on any other car offered by the Korean automaker. The base GT-Line model comes with single-lens projector-beam headlights and a smattering of black chrome accents that give it a sporty appearance. You also get subtle hood vents and LED running lights. On the profile, the Stinger 4-door wears 18-inch wheels and nicely integrates a fender vent with the doors and curved arches. That fastback roofline looks amazing and tapers at the rear towards an upturned trunk lid with LED taillights. Vents in the rear bumper balance the aggressive look of the front and are complemented by a faux diffuser housing four exhaust tips split into two pairs. GT configurations with the V6 get more advanced styling cues, including full LED dual-lens headlights and 19-inch wheels, while GT1 and GT2 models boast a sunroof.

2021 Kia Stinger Side View Driving Kia
2021 Kia Stinger Side View Kia
2021 Kia Stinger Driving Back View Kia
See All 2021 Kia Stinger Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The dimensions of the Kia Stinger sedan are typical for this sort of class, with length measuring 190.2 inches and a width rating of 73.6 inches. Height is measured at 55.1 inches, while the wheelbase is 114.4 inches long. Curb weight varies depending on your choice of engine, and if you've opted for AWD or not, with the base 2.0-liter RWD model starting at 3,611 pounds and the heaviest GT2 V6 AWD model tipping the scales at 4,023 lbs.

  • Length 190.2 in
  • Wheelbase 114.4 in
  • Height 55.1 in
  • Max Width 73.6 in
  • Front Width 62.8 in
  • Rear Width 64.8 in
  • Curb Weight 3,611.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

Regardless of which trim you opt for, six colors are offered with the base Kia Stinger. Panthera Metal is standard, but Aurora Black Pearl is also available at no charge. Snow White Pearl costs $495 but can be swapped for Ceramic Silver at the same cost. If you want something a little more vibrant, HiChroma Red costs $495 too, but you also need to add the upgraded infotainment system and the available sunroof. This will tack another $2,900 to your build price. Micro Blue Pearl requires the $2,900 upgrade as well. With the GT trim, these colors don't require the addition of any packages, and that stunning blue hue is free. On all GT models, red calipers are standard to highlight the Brembo brake setup, while the base model sees its calipers finished in gray. Federation Orange has been discontinued.

  • Snow White Pearl
  • Ceramic Silver
  • HiChroma Red
  • Micro Blue
  • Aurora Black
  • Panthera Metal

2021 Stinger Performance

For all its styling machismo, if the Kia Stinger doesn't offer strong performance, then it may as well be as ugly as a Corolla. Fortunately, that's not the case. The fastest model is naturally powered by the biggest engine. With AWD, the 3.3-liter twin-turbo will propel the Stinger GT from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds and on to a top speed that is limited to 167 mph. This is thanks to outputs of 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque, but those looking for more fun in their drive will likely prefer to send all that power to the rear wheels, thus sacrificing outright acceleration for more exciting handling. Although less motivated, the base GT-Line model can be just as enjoyable, thanks to equal access to the choice of driven axles. However, this model comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that develops a more modest 255 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Regardless of engine choice, an eight-speed automatic transmission is fitted to all models. Steering-mounted paddles put the ability to shift at your fingertips.

2021 Kia Stinger Frontal Aspect Kia
2021 Kia Stinger Rear Angle View Kia
2021 Kia Stinger Engine Bay Kia

Engine and Transmission

As standard, the engine in the Kia Stinger GT-Line is a 2.0-liter turbo four-pot with 255 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. There used to be a time when a motor with such a diminutive capacity rating would be considered good for frugality and nothing else, but turbocharging technology has advanced radically over the last decade, and Kia hasn't been left behind. This engine makes use of a twin-scroll turbo, which ensures that lag is kept to an absolute minimum. Fortunately, while the base GT-Line accelerates well off the line, it's not too bad at higher rpm either and will be a fine highway companion.

The 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 under the hood of the GT models is even more exciting. The noise is raw and refined at the same time, with just the right level of snorting to make it fun without irritating you. As you can imagine, acceleration here is even better, with a strong pull all the way to the redline. Overtaking is effortless, and there's a feeling of riding a wave as you press the loud pedal harder. That said, BMW's 3.0-liter straight-six turbo feels stronger, albeit without the same noises.

With regards to the transmission, the eight-speed automatic that is fitted to all trims is best when left in manual mode, providing smooth shifts that are quick enough for most. However, in lower gears, there is a tendency to upshift early, which then results in a downshift when the car realizes that it needs more torque. Once on the go, things become more refined, but switching to manual mode will highlight that slight delay in gear changes. It's not bad enough for us not to want to drive the car, but BMW and Audi's efforts are both far better in this department.

  • Engines
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 3.3L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

There's no doubt that Kia has done a good job under the hood, although some refinement of the transmission is necessary, but considering that this car was built on an RWD platform, we're more excited about its potential in the handling department. So, is it any good? Well, let's see how it fares as a daily driver first. The suspension is damped well and absorbs both small and medium bumps without too much cabin intrusion, although it does lean towards what we'd call firm. On long journeys, it's a great cruising companion and won't drive occupants crazy. When attacking corners with vigor, you can probably already guess that the competition from BMW is better suited to aggressive and precise cornering. Nevertheless, it's not offensive being behind the wheel of the Stinger, especially if you get a GT model with summer tires. The standard all-season tires fitted to the GT-Line can cause some slippage and understeer, but good modulation of the throttle can help you slide your way out of trouble if you're experienced enough. For those who are a little less confident, we'd avoid pushing into corners too hard with either the RWD or the AWD versions of the Stinger as the rear suspension is still a little less composed than we'd like for mass appeal. That being said, the market is crammed full of cars that aim to take away all sense of responsibility from the driver, and although a BMW will ultimately be more fulfilling for novices and pros, the Stinger at least keeps you on your toes and won't ever lull you into a false sense of security. The AWD model is better for beginners, but again, most Kia Stinger reviews will concur that understeer can become an issue. The Brembo brakes on the GT models are excellent too, and the smaller brakes on the 2.0-liter model can cope with what's asked of them just fine too.

Stinger Gas Mileage

When it comes to fuel economy, the addition of AWD generally has a big and negative impact. However, while the base 2.0-liter RWD model is unsurprisingly the most economical with official EPA estimates of 22/29/25 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles, the AWD model is not far behind, achieving 21/29/24 mpg on the same cycles. The 3.3-liter V6 models achieve identical figures of 17/25/20 mpg on these cycles, regardless of which wheels are driven. With a 15.9-gallon gas tank on all trims, you can expect a maximum of around 398 miles of mixed driving. Gas mileage figures on the V6 models will naturally be a little worse, but they're still decent at 318 miles of mixed range.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    15.9 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 22/29 mpg
* 2021 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD

Kia Stinger Interior

Stunning looks outside can be let down by an interior that is less than mesmerizing, and unfortunately, that is the case here. While the exterior grabs your attention and keeps you staring as you find more cool details, the cabin is drab and bland by comparison. It's not bad, but it looks and feels more like a rival to the old F-Series BMWs than something that can take on the latest and greatest that Audi has to offer. Still, at least you do get genuine leather and heated front seats as standard. There's also wireless smartphone charging and an abundance of space, but you have to step up from the lower two trims to get features like a standard power-adjustable steering column and ventilated front seats.

2021 Kia Stinger Dashboard Kia
2021 Kia Stinger Front Chairs Kia
2021 Kia Stinger Seat Belt Kia
See All 2021 Kia Stinger Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Kia Stinger seats five individuals in comfort, and we really mean that. The front seats are both supportive and comfortable, and even the base model comes with a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat. The rear seats are exemplary for this segment, with plenty of legroom and shoulder room. Headroom isn't quite as generous, but it's still enough for six-footers to sit comfortably in either row. Further up the range, the passenger gets an eight-way power-adjustable seat, but the top trim has 12 levels of adjustment for the person riding shotgun and 16 for the driver. Getting in and out of the 4-door is pretty easy too but rearward visibility is impacted by a relatively small rear window and tall hips. Fortunately, blind-spot monitoring is standard on all Kia Stinger models.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 42.6 in
  • Front Head Room 38.3 in
  • Rear Leg Room 36.4 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.0 in

Interior Colors and Materials

There aren't too many colors on offer when it comes to the interior. No matter what trim you opt for, you get a choice between red or black, and all that changes is whether you get regular leather or Nappa. If you opt for the base model, black is standard while red requires the addition of the Sun & Sound package for $2,900. Nappa is only available on the top GT2 trim, but at least it is standard.

Stinger Trunk and Cargo Space

Trunk space is something that we expect a fastback like this to excel at, and on paper, that's exactly what we see with a measurement of 23.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats - more than you get in an A5 Sportback (21.8 cubes) or the 2020 4 Series GC (just 14 cubes). However, in the real world, the shape means that you can barely fit more luggage than in the Audi. If it's other items that you're loading, the odd shape of the trunk with its recessed sides and its wide opening is ideal for cramming in plenty of shopping. If you need more space, a 60/40 split-folding rear seatback setup can allow you to go camping if you like - provided the roads are all accessible by something with minimal ground clearance.

In the cabin, you get a large center armrest storage box and a decent glovebox, but the door pockets are on the narrow side and will likely only ever house keys and wallets. The center console has space for two short lattes from your favorite Starbucks, along with an impressive little bin that can house your phone comfortably.

2021 Kia Stinger Interior Details Kia
2021 Kia Stinger Rear Passenger Seats Kia
2021 Kia Stinger Open Trunk Lid Kia

Stinger Infotainment and Features

Features

Kia has been building a reputation alongside sister company Hyundai for providing great cars with excellent value. The Stinger is no different, with even the base model coming with an impressive list of standard features. Specs include LED running lights and taillights, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, keyless entry with push-button ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 12-way power driver's seat, wireless smartphone charging, a 3.5-inch LCD screen in the cluster, cruise control, heated front seats, power-folding heated wing mirrors, stop/start, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and hill start assist. Other available features include dual-lens full-LED headlights, a seven-inch driver info display, auto high beams, front parking sensors, multicolor configurable ambient lighting, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, forward collision alert with autonomous emergency braking, rain-sensing wipers, ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, power adjustment of the steering column, a sunroof with a power sunshade, remote start, a head-up display, a surround-view camera, steering-responsive headlights, and a power trunk lid.

Infotainment

Kia's infotainment system is called UVO, which stands for "your voice". Why that name was chosen is beyond us, but it does feature Bluetooth connectivity with voice control. On the base trim and the GT trim, this runs on a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment display. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included, and you also get front/rear USB connections and, on the base model, a six-speaker sound system. The GT trim is upgraded to a nine-speaker setup while the GT1 features a Harman Kardon 15-speaker QuantamLogic premium audio system. This is also found on the GT2 trim, and both also feature an eight-inch display with navigation. The base screen is a little small when you're on the move, but unfortunately, even the bigger display is plagued by slow response times. It's not infuriatingly bad, and the images displayed are crisp, but that slight delay is enough to work on your nerves.

Stinger Problems and Reliability

Reliability hasn't been a major issue for the 2021 model thus far, but it hasn't been impeccable either. One recall was issued in September 2020 for a fuel pump that may be affected by a blocked nozzle, resulting in insufficient fuel supply. Beyond that, no other issues have been reported for 2021 models as yet.

In terms of warranty coverage, Kia is unrivaled. A five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty is impressive, but it's the powertrain warranty that blows competitors away. Kia offers a ten-year/100,000-mile warranty here, but as impressed as we are by this, the lack of any complimentary scheduled maintenance may deter some buyers.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    10 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles

Stinger Safety

Safety is very important, and, in the US, stringent review processes help buyers decide if a car is good enough to entrust your life with. Fortunately, the Stinger seems to be rather good with an overall rating from the NHTSA of five stars. At the IIHS, the 2021 model has not yet been reviewed. However, the identical 2020 model achieved an excellent rating and was recommended as a Top Safety Pick.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

An award like the one received from the IIHS doesn't happen by accident, but it's worth noting that not all variants of the Stinger would have been eligible for this, as they don't all have the same safety equipment. Nevertheless, the base Stinger is still decent, with seven airbags, including full-length curtain airbags and a driver's knee airbag. You also get rear parking sensors and a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, as well as lane change assist and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. These driver assists form part of the Kia Drive Wise Assist Technology suite. The usual traction and stability management systems feature too. Moving up to the GT trim adds front parking sensors and bigger brakes, while the GT1 boasts auto high beams for its LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, a driver attention warning, forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go. The GT2 gets steering-responsive headlights, a head-up display, and a surround-view camera.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Kia Stinger a good car?

Going back to the question asked at the outset, now is the time to consider whether the Kia Stinger is worthy of being mentioned alongside rivals like the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and Audi A5 Sportback. The short answer is no. The quality and performance of Audis and BMWs are still out of reach for the relatively young Korean automaker. However, Kia is not far off the mark. The exterior design is far more attractive than most other automakers can imagine and is truly unique without being weird (new BMWs, we're looking at you), and the engine offerings and standard features are impressive. Pricing is also a positive aspect of the Stinger, and the standard warranty is incredible. The biggest issues we have are with the interior - where quality and design are sub-par - and the Stinger's on-the-limit handling, where it can be a little unpredictable. All of this in mind, the Stinger may not impress those accustomed to German offerings, but it is certainly worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as them. As always, we recommend a test drive if you're not familiar with this vehicle.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Kia Stinger?

The Kia Stinger has a price that undercuts the offerings of its German counterparts. While higher prices on those models can often be justified by features and quality, the Stinger's base price makes them look expensive. In the USA, the Kia Stinger GT-Line carries a base price of $33,090, before a $1,035 destination charge. AWD is a $2,200 option on all models. The GT comes with an MSRP of $39,590, while the GT1 ups the cost of the Kia Stinger to $45,490. The highest of these prices belongs to the GT2 model, which will set you back $50,390. It's essentially fully loaded as standard, but you can add a couple of features. If you opt for everything on offer, you'll still not exceed $55,000.

2021 New Kia Stinger Models

The 2021 Kia Stinger is offered in four trims: GT-Line, GT, GT1, and GT2. Each adds progressively more features, making it easier for you to decide how much you want from your Stinger with ease. All models come with rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard, along with the option of an all-wheel-drive system.

The base model is the only one powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot. This produces 255 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Projector headlights are fitted along with 18-inch wheels, a six-speaker sound system, a seven-inch infotainment display, and rear parking sensors. You also get power-folding heated wing mirrors, push-button ignition, wireless charging, heated front seats, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and leather upholstery. A rearview camera with dynamic guidelines is also included.

The GT model is the first to come with a V6. It's a 3.3-liter twin-turbo that produces 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. Besides a top speed of 167 mph, this model also features dual-lens full-LED headlights, 19-inch wheels, a nine-speaker sound system, ambient lighting, an eight-way passenger seat, and front parking sensors.

Moving up to the GT1 will see you gain a sunroof with a power sunshade, auto high beams, rain-sensing wipers, a seven-inch driver info display, an eight-inch infotainment screen with navigation, ventilated front seats, a Harman Kardon sound system, electronically controlled suspension, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go.

Finally, the top-tier GT2 trim adds a power rear hatch, dynamic headlights, a head-up display, Nappa leather upholstery, a 16-way driver's seat, a 12-way passenger seat, a surround-view camera, and heated outboard rear seats.

See All 2021 Kia Stinger Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

A common package offered for the base and GT models is the Sun & Sound package. This package is a required specification on some models if you choose certain exterior paint finishes. As you can probably guess, it adds an eight-inch infotainment display with navigation, a 15-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, an eight-way passenger seat with power-adjustment, and a sunroof with a power sunshade. On all models, you can add remote start for $495, or an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass for 350 bucks. Also available are puddle lights for $285 and a paint protection package for $200.

🚗What Kia Stinger Model Should I Buy?

As frugal as the base variant is, we think that the V6 twin-turbo engine is a must for the Stinger to be a real rival to its German counterparts. We also don't like the two base trims' infotainment display, or its size, to be more accurate. Bearing all of this in mind, we'd go for the GT1 trim. This keeps the price at around 45 grand and gives you a long list of safety features that includes lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control, along with the bigger touchscreen, navigation, a Harman Kardon sound system, auto high beams, and sport gauges. Ventilated front seats are a nice bonus too.

2021 Kia Stinger Comparisons

Genesis G70 CarBuzz
Ford Mustang Coupe Ford
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Kia Stinger255 hp22/29 mpg$33,090
Genesis G70 252 hp20/27 mpg$35,450
Ford Mustang Coupe 310 hp21/30 mpg$26,670

2021 Kia Stinger vs Genesis G70

Much like the Kia Stinger, the Genesis G70 is due for an update in 2022, and like the Stinger, it rides on the same platform developed by Hyundai and Kia. However, while the Stinger starts at just over $33,000, the G70 is almost three grand pricier. It gets the same engine options, but the 2.0-liter in the Genesis produces three horsepower less. So where does that extra money go? Well, the G70 is a much more traditional shape and is a proper sedan rather than a hatch or fastback, and with a supposedly more mature look; it also has less cargo volume with a trunk offering just 10.5 cubic feet. While that may seem like a problem, it does help add a little more headroom in the rear. The real reason for its higher price, however, is a better cabin. Double stitching in a contrasting color is the perfect complement to quilted leather upholstery on the seats and door cards. However, the infotainment system is the same one found in the Stinger, and we prefer the look of the Stinger too. Overall, that higher tag only nets you a more premium badge and a nicer interior, so we'd stick with the Kia.

See Genesis G70 Review

2021 Kia Stinger vs Ford Mustang Coupe

These aren't really similar cars, but they're in the same price bracket. Note that this is not the Mustang GT, so we're considering the 2.3-liter four-pot variant that produces 310 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and costs only $26,670. We're still waiting for a 2021 model to land, but even so, the Mustang offers a more visually pleasing if basic interior, a much better and more responsive infotainment system, and proper, classic fastback styling. Sure, the rear seats are unusable by adults, and there's not much space for luggage in the back when compared to the Stinger. However, the Mustang is a lot more fun to drive and will always be appreciated as a modern interpretation of an American icon. Naturally, the choice here is simple: if you have a family and value practicality, the Kia is the default choice, but if you're just after something good-looking with an enjoyable drive, the Mustang is still one of the best ways to affordably have fun behind the wheel.

See Ford Mustang Coupe Review

Kia Stinger Popular Comparisons

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2021 Kia Stinger Video Review

Check out some informative Kia Stinger video reviews below.

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$33,090 - $52,590
Price Range (MSRP)
Kia Stinger
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