A great sport sedan
THE GOOD
  • Stellar handling
  • Unique GT car styling
  • Comfortable commuter
THE BAD
  • Near-luxury-car price tag

To the dismay of every broke high schooler hoping to spice up their first car, racing stripes don’t actually add five horsepower each.

Kia’s shiny new badge appears to be good for about three additional ponies, though, because that’s exactly what the 2022 Kia Stinger has gained as part of its refresh. What remains unchanged is this car’s status as a great sport sedan.

Styling: 8.5/10

Despite being on the market for four years now, the Kia Stinger’s long and low shape means it’s still quite an exciting vehicle to behold (partially because there just aren’t that many of ’em around, but whatever). Its style and proportions are quite unique in this price bracket and, from some angles, it looks almost exotic.

As part of the 2022 refresh, Kia has given the Stinger new 19-inch wheels, new bar-style taillights, a different diffuser, bigger exhaust tips, and, of course, the company’s new badge. I enjoy the bigger exhaust finishers and the new corporate logo is definitely an improvement over Kia’s old dollar-store-stationery emblem, but I’m not sure the Stinger’s new wheel and taillight designs are necessarily better-looking than what came before.

Power: 9/10

Here in Canada, the Kia Stinger is exclusively powered by a 3.3L twin-turbocharged V6. Mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive, this year’s Stinger has gained exactly three horsepower over last year’s model, now making 368 ponies instead of 365.

I’d be lying if I claimed I noticed a power bump of less than one per cent but, just like last year’s model, the 2022 Kia Stinger remains a sufficiently quick car for the street. It’s an enjoyable level of speed, too, mostly because the Stinger’s accelerative abilities feel like they were targeted and calibrated not to one-up any arbitrary rivals or to compensate for any personal insecurities its owners might have, but rather to maximize driver enjoyment on public roads. The Stinger is a quick car – but not unusably or excessively so. It’s just right.

That V6 sounds alright, too. It’s not especially characterful or melodic, but the audio is strong and mechanical. Fake, speaker-fed engine noise is present, it doesn’t make a hugely noticeable difference, and it merely enhances what the engine already sounds like organically. In any case, the synthetic noise is adjustable and can be turned off entirely if you so choose.

The eight-speed, meanwhile, responds very quickly to pulls of the steering wheel shifter paddles, with the immediacy of the response rivaling that of some torque-converter automatics in performance cars costing double the price. Like, say, the automatic in the new BMW M4.

Driving Feel: 10/10

Going fast in a straight line is fun, but what’s even more enjoyable is going fast around corners – and the Stinger is extremely good at that, too. Unleashed down an empty, twisty backroad, Kia’s sport sedan is joyfully competent. The Stinger’s brakes, steering, transmission, and chassis all feel expertly calibrated for comfortable, spirited driving. It’s immensely controllable and remarkably pure. It feels a bit like an old sport sedan in all of the best ways while retaining modern luxury-car-level stability without the numbness.

The accessible enjoyment that characterizes its powertrain can be felt throughout the rest of this car’s running gear, too. The Stinger feels well-balanced and fun to toss around even at reasonable speeds, not just felony ones. It’s one of the few cars that, given its purpose, segment, and price point, I cannot level a single reasonable criticism against when it comes to driving feel.

Safety: 9/10

As standard, the Kia Stinger comes with a fairly vast array of safety features such as seven airbags (including one for the driver’s knee), blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping and -follow assistance, forward collision avoidance, rear parking sensors, and a government-mandated back-up camera. The company’s adaptive cruise control and highway driving assist are also standard and work really well.

Directionally adaptive headlights, a 360-degree camera system, and the blind-spot view monitor, which provides a live camera feed of your blind-spots in the instrument display, are locked behind the GT Elite trim. Couple the latter with the traditional, orange-light blind-spot monitoring system, and the Elite Stinger really leaves no excuses for not knowing what’s going on in your blind-spots.

Features: 8.5/10

As a relatively high-priced, premium offering from Kia (prices start in the mid-$50,000s), the base Stinger GT Limited comes standard with quite a few creature comforts such as rain-sensing wipers, heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, heated mirrors, 15-speaker premium audio, wireless charging, and – new for 2022 – a big 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen. Opt for the GT Elite and Kia bundles in a head-up display, obstacle-detecting windows, and Nappa leather.

The premium audio system sounds decent, and the full-colour startup and shutdown animations in the head-up display are an impressively novel touch.

User Friendliness: 9/10

Like most other vehicles made by the Hyundai Group (touch-tastic Tucsons and Santa Cruzes notwithstanding), the Stinger is quite a simple place to make sense of. Buttons are big and clearly marked, physical knobs are used to adjust volume, radio tuning, and temperature, and the software projected through that new 10.25-inch screen is one of the more intuitive and customizable systems in the industry. Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are present, easy to initialize, and take up the entire screen.

Practicality: 9/10

In addition to a stylish exterior, the Stinger’s long body also lends to generous interior space. There’s a huge amount of rear legroom, while rear headroom isn’t bad either, making this car a pretty great place for four adults to spend time. Limit the number of occupants and the seats can be folded down in a 60/40 split.

This isn’t obvious at first glance, but the Stinger is a hatch, meaning the rear window swings open with the trunk lid, providing a big opening to its 660 L cargo area.

Comfort: 9/10

As any good grand tourer should, the Kia Stinger strikes an excellent balance between luxury and athleticism. It’s a comfortable ride but never feels overly isolated or floaty. It’s sporty yet supple – just what you want in a car like this.

The seats are great, too, and feature headrests that feel like they’ve been sculpted to fit perfectly against the back of my neck as well as bolsters that tighten inward in sport mode – a party trick popularized by the E60 BMW M5. As mentioned, the front and rear seats, and steering wheel are all heated, while the front seats are also cooled as standard. Opt for the $300 suede package in the GT Elite Stinger and the dash, door cards, seat inserts, and headliner are covered in the soft stuff, admittedly adding a more plush, premium feel to the cabin.

Sound and vibration isolation are also quite well done, although some mild creaks could be heard at the top of our tester’s driver’s door going over bumps.

Fuel Economy: 7/10

According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the 2022 Kia Stinger is rated for 13.7 L/100 km in the city, 9.6 on the highway, and 11.9 combined. After a week of mixed driving, these scores proved accurate, with the car’s trip computer showing 11.8 L/100 km. Premium fuel is recommended.

These ratings aren’t too surprising one way or the other considering the Stinger’s size and power. For comparison, Acura says its TLX Type S should get 11.2 L/100 km combined, even though it fared a bit worse in testing, while the Stinger’s own Genesis G70 cousin is marginally more efficient, scoring 11.5 L/100 km combined.

Value: 8/10

The Stinger starts at $50,495 for a base GT Limited, while the Suede Package-equipped GT Elite we tested starts at $53,295. Add a $250 colour charge that’ll come with any Stinger that isn’t black, $1,850 for freight, $100 worth of A/C tax, and the California Red Stinger you see here carries a sticker of $55,495.

In contrast, the Acura TLX Type S, which frankly doesn’t drive as well as the Stinger, starts at $59,500. Demand comparable performance and practicality from any of the German brands and expect to pay upwards of $60,000. Granted, those luxury rides do offer markedly swankier interiors and more prestigious badges than the Kia. The most financially convincing Stinger alternative would actually be the Genesis G70. Sharing quite a few guts with the Stinger, the G70 can be had in 3.3T Advanced form for an all-inclusive $55,000.

The Verdict

Even if it isn’t quite the value showstopper Kia perhaps wants you to think it is, the 2022 Kia Stinger is a wonderful sport sedan regardless of price. It looks great, is easy and comfortable to live with, is just the right level of quick, and is a genuine pleasure to drive.

Through pure coincidence, I happened to be in possession of BMW’s new M5 CS super sedan at the same time as this Stinger, and while I can’t claim that the Korean car is anywhere near the same league as the limited-run Bimmer in terms of performance and luxury, it also did not feel bad. Hopping out of the lightweight M5, I didn’t feel like I was getting into a penalty box climbing into the Stinger. And given the fact that the BMW is more than triple the price, that very well may be the nicest thing I can say about it.

Competitors

Specifications

Engine Displacement 3.3L   Model Tested 2022 Kia Stinger GT Elite – Suede Package
Engine Cylinders Twin-turbo V6   Base Price $53,295
Peak Horsepower 368 hp @ 6,000 rpm   A/C Tax $100
Peak Torque 376 lb-ft @ 1,300–4,500 rpm   Destination Fee $1,850
Fuel Economy 13.7 / 9.6 / 11.9 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb   Price as Tested $55,495
Cargo Space 660 / 1,158 L seats down  
Optional Equipment
$250 – California Red paint, $250