2021 Kia Stinger

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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:

  • Exterior Design 10 /10
  • Performance 10 /10
  • Fuel Economy 6 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 10 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 10 /10
  • Reliability 9 /10
  • Safety 9 /10
  • Value For Money 10 /10
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2021 Kia Stinger Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 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

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.

Best Deals on 2021 Kia Stinger

2021 Kia Stinger Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
3.3L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
3.3L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
3.3L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Kia Stinger Trims and Specs

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.

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 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

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
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