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2021 Kia Stinger Review

The 2021 Kia Stinger isn’t just an interesting sport sedan. It’s too good to be roped in with pleasant cars like a Honda Civic or Accord. Instead, it has enough power, style, tech and even quality materials to rival the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and the Audi A5 Sportback. Kia competing with two of Germany’s finest — this is a seismic shift in the car world.

The Stinger offers a powerful twin-turbocharged V6 engine to really make the most of its adept handling, with arguably stunning looks to match. Nor is the Stinger strictly a sedan. It has a sloping hatchback like the Audi A5, which makes it more versatile than a traditional 4-door. Its exterior dimensions also allow for generous back-seat space.

Admittedly, the range-topping Stinger GT2 begins above the $50,000 mark, which is the point where any badge snobbery has to be ditched. But a comparable Audi or BMW would be at least $10,000 more.

In any case, there’s no need to spend quite that much. The entry level Stinger GT-Line is plenty of fun, yet still has more equipment and power than some humbler luxury competitors, but with a much lower price. It’s also a Kia, so it comes with a superb warranty.

What’s New for 2021?

The only change this year is that V6-powered variants in Panthera Gray can now have a red interior. See the 2021 Kia Stinger models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Precise and engaging drive
  • GT engine outdoes pricier competitors
  • Generous standard features for the money
  • Ample passenger and cargo space

What We Don’t

  • Steering can seem twitchy on certain highway surfaces
  • Distant touchscreen

How Much?

$34,125-$51,425

Fuel Economy

At the GT-Line entry level, the Kia Stinger employs a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) is the standard configuration; all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional. Every Stinger has an 8-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles mounted beneath the steering wheel.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 22 miles per gallon in city driving, 29 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving (FWD) or 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined (AWD).

The Stinger GT has a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 generating 365 hp and 376 lb-ft. of torque. Fuel consumption is 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined, regardless of the number of driven wheels.

Standard Features and Options

The 2021 Kia Stinger comes in GT-Line, GT, GT1 and GT2 trim levels. Every version may be fitted with all-wheel drive for an extra $2,200. Prices given below include a $1,035 destination charge.

The base GT-Line ($34,125) has 18-in alloy wheels, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, black chrome exterior trim, rear parking sensors, automatic on/off headlights, LED daytime running lights, heated side mirrors, keyless entry/ignition, selectable driving modes, aluminum pedals, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat (with 4-way lumbar support), leather seating surfaces, leather-wrapped/flat-bottomed steering wheel, self-dimming rearview mirror, 7-in infotainment touchscreen, three USB ports, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, satellite/HD radio, wireless charging, auxiliary audio input, Uvo eServices emergency communications, and a 6-speaker sound system.

A Sun and Sound package ($2,900) for the GT-Line adds an 8-in infotainment touchscreen, navigation, powered sunroof/shade, 8-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, and a 15-speaker/720-watt Harman Kardon surround-sound system.

GT ($40,625) does not include the content from the above package, but has the more powerful engine, 19-in alloy wheels, LED headlights, launch control, electronic limited-slip rear differential, variable-ratio steering, different exterior trim, aluminum interior trim, electric parking brake, 8-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, front parking sensors, adaptive cruise control with stop/go, and a 9-speaker sound system.

GT1 ($46,525) brings forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance/lane departure warning, driver attention monitoring,  automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive suspension, digital gauges (for g-forces, oil temperature, torque, turbo boost levels, lap timer), self-dimming side mirrors, powered sunroof, power-adjustable steering column, remote garage door opener, ventilated front seats, driver’s-side memory settings, 8-in infotainment touchscreen, navigation, and the 15-speaker/720-watt Harman Kardon surround-sound system.

GT2 ($51,425) has Nappa Leather upholstery, heated outboard rear seats, 360-degree camera system, shift-by-wire gear selection, powered trunk lid, 16-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with adjustable side bolsters and thigh extension, ventilated front seats, and a head-up display.

Safety

Every Stinger comes standard with front-side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags, driver’s-side knee airbag, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, and Uvo eServices emergency communications (automatic collision notification, emergency call button, stolen vehicle location).

GT1 and GT2 trims have forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection (which really should be standard), adaptive cruise control with stop/go, lane-keeping assistance/lane departure warning, and driver attention monitoring.

In crash testing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Stinger a maximum 5-star rating overall, with four stars for front impact protection and five for side impacts. After earning top scores in the major crashworthiness categories, the Stinger was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), providing it has all the collision avoidance systems and the upgraded LED headlights.

Behind the Wheel

The 4-cylinder Stinger is great fun, but the GT represents the Stinger at its absolute best. The adaptive suspension, variable-ratio steering (it’s ultra-quick), bigger wheels and limited-slip differential combine with the gutsy 365-hp V6 to create a car that’s proficient and precise, with plenty of feedback to reward the driver.

The optional all-wheel drive system is rear-biased, maintaining the feel of a rear-drive car while still providing all-weather reassurance and optimum traction. GT versions with all-wheel drive also enjoy a torque vectoring function that enhances cornering abilities. And the adaptive suspension provides a surprisingly comfortable ride; anyone familiar with German sport sedans should feel right at home.

The interior is well assembled, full of equipment, comfortable and wonderfully quiet. The materials aren’t quite as premium as the best of Europe, but the Stinger is much more affordable. And there’s not much difference (if any) to luxury cars from Acura and Infiniti. We also like the user-friendly touchscreen and its many features, but wish it was easier to reach.

Space up front is excellent, with a low-slung driving position more like a Mustang or a Camaro than a sport sedan. Yet rear accommodations are similar to an A5 Sportback, or maybe even the larger Audi A7.

Luggage space is comparable to both: 23.3 cu ft. with the 60/40 split/folding back seats in place (a typical sedan has between 13 and 16) and 40.9 cu ft. when they’re lowered.

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Audi A5/S5 Sportback — The A5 and S5 Sportback cars are the Stinger’s intended targets. They’re close in body style and performance.

2021 Dodge Charger — Perhaps an Acura TLX or Infiniti Q50 would be a more logical alternative, but with rear-wheel drive, high-powered engines, flashy styling and budget pricing, the Charger could scratch the same kind of itch as the Stinger.

Used Audi A7 — The sleek proportions, size and hatchback trunk of the A7 might well have been the inspiration behind the Kia Stinger. It’s far more expensive, though, so consider a used or certified pre-owned example.

Questions You May Ask

Is the 2021 Kia Stinger as good a performance car as an Audi A5 Sportback?

On paper, the two look pretty similar. Horsepower in both base models is comparable and the sportier S5 Sportback is a good match for the V6-powered Stinger. Both cars have a hatchback rear end and offer performance upgrades. The Audi is still the better driver’s car, however, if only by a narrow margin.

Which 2021 Kia Stinger model is the fastest?

The fastest Stinger has to be one with the twin-turbocharged V6. Kia doesn’t publish any acceleration times, but rushing from standstill to 60 mph in around 4.5 seconds is definitely possible. The BMW 440i Gran Coupe is a couple of tenths slower than that.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Kia Stinger?

A 2021 Stinger GT2 has pretty much everything as standard except for all-wheel drive. With that feature, it comes to $53,625.

Where is the 2021 Kia Stinger built?

The 2021 Kia Stinger is produced in two facilities. One in South Korea, the other in Kaliningrad, Russia.

Autotrader’s Advice

For most of the style and some of the substance, the GT-Line should be enjoyable enough. But the real Stinger experience comes with the V6 engine. The GT1 version’s adaptive suspension and driver assistance features make the strongest argument. If a GT2 is within financial reach, however, then go for it.  Find a Kia Stinger for sale

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