2021 Kia Stinger Review
The 2021 Kia Stinger is not your everyday sedan. With its coupe-like styling, standard rear-wheel drive and an available turbocharged V6 engine that thumps out 365 horsepower, the Stinger evokes the style and performance of a European sport sedan. Yet it's also quite practical — its hatchback design opens up more cargo room than almost any other sedan in its class — and comes with Kia's great warranty.
Granted, this sedan isn't for everybody. It's more expensive than commonplace sedans such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry and (arguably) not as prestigious as an Audi or a BMW. But overall we think Kia has come up with a great niche sedan that delivers impressive performance at an accessible price.
What's it like to live with?
Want to know even more about the Kia Stinger? Check out our editorial experts' long-term test of a Kia Stinger GT2. How was the interior and visibility from inside this fastback sedan? Was the cargo room big enough for road trips? How was our Stinger GT test car's reliability? Learn this and more from our yearlong 20,000-mile test. Note that while we tested a 2018 Stinger, our observations still apply to the 2021 model as well.
The Stinger delivers sharp performance with very few concessions. Build quality is strong, and the spacious hatchback has plenty of room. Kia also backs up the Stinger with longer-than-average warranties.
How does the Stinger drive?
The Stinger is fun to drive. We tested the GT. It doesn't launch very hard from a full stop, but nail the accelerator at speed and you'll be impressed by the thrust from the twin-turbo V6. Our test car posted a 0-60 mph time of 5.0 seconds. That's quick, though some comparable luxury sport sedans are a little quicker.
Around turns, this big sedan exhibits some body roll even when the dampers are in their Sport setting. Still, the Stinger GT handles well and responds the moment you start moving the wheel. The steering effort is moderate, in contrast to the too-light feeling in other Kias.
How comfortable is the Stinger?
In the standard Comfort driving mode, the GT's adaptive suspension dampers smooth out road imperfections. The ride is firmer in Sport mode but livable. But the Stinger lacks the ride sophistication of luxury sedans, and it can get a little jittery on coarse pavement.
Seat comfort is also a little lacking. The front seats are supportive and offer multiple adjustments, but some might find the padding overly firm. The seat bottom is also on the narrow side. Little wind or road noise makes it inside the cabin, allowing for a quiet ride without much vibration either. The V6 engine has a constant pleasing sound that kicks up a notch in Sport mode.
How’s the interior?
Drivers have a wide range of adjustability on the top GT2 trim's sport seats, even at the side bolsters and thigh extension. It's easy to find the perfect position. The steering wheel is highly adjustable as well. Unfortunately, it's not so easy to get in and out. The doorsills are wide, and the rear roofline requires passengers to duck to enter.
Space in the front seat is reasonable, though taller drivers might brush the roof on models with a sunroof. The rear is less hospitable, with restricted headroom and legroom. The touchscreen is a bit of a reach from the driving position as well, and it can be difficult to see over the high hood from the low seating position.
How’s the tech?
Connectivity in the Stinger is straightforward and effective. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and the 15-speaker Harman Kardon audio system on most models pumps out high-quality sound.
Safety-wise, most trims also come with Smart Cruise Control, an adaptive cruise control system that can bring the Stinger GT down to a full stop. Forward collision mitigation and lane keeping assist are standard on the GT1 and GT2 trims.
How’s the storage?
The Stinger makes the most of its hatchback design. It easily bests the carrying capabilities of a typical sedan. The hands-free hatch that activates when you stand behind the bumper for a few seconds is a nice touch. Up front, the Stinger has a sufficient amount of storage space for small items.
For small-child transport, the Stinger has outboard car seat anchors that are hidden behind covers. The anchors themselves are inset pretty far from the front of the covers. The top tether points are located about halfway down the seatback. You'll have to move the cargo cover to reach the tether points.
How economical is the Stinger?
The EPA estimates that the base Stinger with a four-cylinder engine gets up to 25 mpg combined. Then there's a sharp drop to 20 mpg for the V6. In both cases, the Stinger lags behind other cars with comparable performance.
Is the Stinger a good value?
Kia's warranties are among the longest in the industry. This extensive coverage figures heavily into the value equation. The Stinger also offers good bang for the buck on its own accord. It has unique buttons and components compared with the rest of the Kia lineup, plus soft surfaces on the doors and attractive trim on the dash. From a base model all the way up to a GT2, the Stinger gives you a pleasing combo of luxury and performance.
The Stinger offers head-turning styling and backs it up with true sport-sedan handling. We also like its approachable demeanor, which makes the Stinger a breeze to drive easily and a blast to drive hard. We suspect new owners will approve.
Which Stinger does Edmunds recommend?
The turbocharged four-cylinder is fine, but the Stinger is a sport sedan through and through. You owe it to yourself to get the most powerful version possible. That makes the GT the best starting point. For our money, the GT1 is the way to go. Over and above the base GT, you get all manner of performance and luxury bits, including adaptive suspension dampers, ventilated seats, a larger touchscreen and a kicking sound system. We think it's a steal.
Kia Stinger models
The 2021 Kia Stinger is a midsize sedan with a hatchback-style liftgate. It is sold in four trims: GT-Line, GT, GT1 and GT2. The GT-Line is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (255 horsepower, 260 lb-ft of torque). All others use a turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 (365 hp, 376 lb-ft). An eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard across the board, and all-wheel drive is available on any trim. Feature highlights include: