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2020 Kia Stinger

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2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Brian León Brian León Contributing Writer
July 7, 2020

Buying tip

The 2020 Kia Stinger is at its best in twin-turbo V-6 form.

features & specs

GT AWD
GT RWD
GT-Line AWD
MPG
17 city / 25 hwy
MPG
17 city / 25 hwy
MPG
21 city / 29 hwy
MSRP
$41,700
MSRP
$39,500
MSRP
$35,290

The 2020 Kia Stinger delivers a rare ride-and-handling balance and ample acceleration in a crisp, practical body.

The 2020 Kia Stinger wasn’t merely molded to emulate German uber sedans from BMW and Audi, it was designed to beat them at their own game.

Overall the 2020 Stinger succeeds—especially once its reasonable price is factored in. We rate the 2020 Stinger at 7.7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

This year, the Stinger lineup is reduced to four trim levels, three of which use a 365-horsepower 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 you probably wanted anyway. Base turbo-4 cars are called GT-Line this year, while the V-6 returns in GT, GT1, and GT2 guise.

Review continues below

The entry-level engine delivers a decent 255 hp and can be had with either rear or all-wheel drive. The 365-hp twin-turbo V-6 is a worthwhile upgrade that can catapult the big sedan to 60 mph in around 4.7 seconds. No matter what’s underhood, the Stinger uses a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. 

Though the 2020 Stinger handles well, it isn’t a track machine. Its supple suspension takes big bumps with ease, and its narrow tires help it feel reasonably tossable around town. Sticker rubber would help on a track, but we concede that few shoppers likely care about the car’s closed-course prowess.

Instead, they may prefer its calming, spacious interior. Front and rear-seat comfort is a strong point, and all Stingers leave the factory with leather upholstery and power-adjustable front seats. Active safety tech including automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control is curiously optional, something that surprises us given the Stinger is Kia’s flagship four-door.

Err, maybe not. It’s actually a five-door. The car’s big hatchback is well-integrated into its shapely body. Opened up, it offers nearly double the cubic footage of other similarly-sized performance sedans. Fold the rear seats and the Stinger can lug nearly as much as some SUVs, though its lower roofline means you won’t be able to haul a new washing machine home. Pay for delivery, it’s worth it to drive a car with performance credentials as impressive as this one.

8

2020 Kia Stinger

Styling

The lithe 2020 Kia Stinger has sharp lines that still grab our attention.

The 2020 Kia Stinger enters its third model year looking the same as it did when it first wowed us several years ago. Its streamlined, hatchback-like styling remains a hit, and its Teutonic-inspired interior is a model of form and function. 

We rate the 2020 Stinger at 8 out of 10, assigning a pair of points for its exterior and one to its interior. 

The short front overhang and long hood pair with a roofline that shoots rearward almost to the end of the trunklid. A delicate chrome line is a nice finisher that helps balance the bulky rearmost roof pillar. Sadly, the shape is festooned with ducts and spoilers that seem like afterthoughts. A cleaner Stinger design would do away with all those unnecessary add-ons.

Overall, the Stinger stretches about 190 inches between its bumpers, which puts it close to the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It hides its size admirably, though it’s a lot bigger than the related Genesis G70.

The interior makes use of standard German styling bits such as business-like black and silver trim in most configurations. Clear, simple controls stand in pleasant contrast to the overwhelming screens seen in some rivals, though, and most versions of the Stinger are draped in soft nappa leather hides. A dressed-up Stinger would be nice to see, but perhaps that’s the domain of the more sedate G70. 

Review continues below
8

2020 Kia Stinger

Performance

The 2020 Kia Stinger was honed on the track, but it’s much happier on the open road.

When Kia nabbed German Albert Biermann from BMW’s vaunted M Division, the Korean automaker put the enthusiast world on watch. So far, so good, then. 

The 2020 Kia Stinger delivers exceptional straight-line performance paired with a supple ride and a grippy, compliant suspension. It’s not a track star, but that’s not really what big sedans are about, anyway.

We rate the 2020 Stinger at 8 out of 10 for its performance.

Base Stinger GT-Line cars have the look but not the power of the real GT cars. Still, their 255-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 delivers decent grunt and works well with the standard 8-speed automatic transmission. Better yet is the twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6 fitted to all other versions of the Stinger. This healthy engine delivers 365 hp in rapid fashion as it rushes the Stinger to 60 mph in around 4.7 seconds before hitting a 167 mph top speed. The V-6 pours on the power at low speeds, never feeling out of breath. In Sport mode, the 8-speed shoots off rapid gear changes, though it can struggle to keep up with the rat-a-tat hammering of the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters in enthusiastic driving. A dual-clutch transmission would be faster, but perhaps not as smooth at lower speeds. 

Most Stingers send power to the rear wheels, though all-wheel drive is a reasonably priced option that adds confidence on slippery terrain while providing better grip in any situation. V-6 Stingers with all-wheel drive also include a limited-slip rear differential and brake-based torque-vectoring.

The Stinger has four drive modes that rework its throttle mapping, its steering heft, and more. Soft, relatively narrow tires that are perfectly acceptable in day-to-day use prove the sedan’s Achilles heel when it comes to track time, not that most buyers will find that unacceptable. Ultimately, the car delivers neutral, comfortable handling suited more for winding back roads than for the track situations Kia suggests its big sedan should be capable of handling. 

Underneath, the front struts and five-link rear suspension deliver a composed ride, but leave us wondering why Kia didn’t see fit to slap a set of wider tires on for even better grip.

Review continues below
8

2020 Kia Stinger

Comfort & Quality

Hatchbacks, even those like the 2020 Kia Stinger that don’t look the part, are always the answer.

Not everyone needs or wants an SUV, but few of us would say no to a spacious interior. The 2020 Kia Stinger is a comfortable, practical sports sedan that earns 8 out of 10 points on our scale thanks to the way it handles passengers and cargo. 

All Stingers make use of leather-wrapped power-adjustable front seats that are firm but not confining. High-trim versions add more adjustment and softer nappa leather hides.

Six-footers can sit one behind the other in the Stinger. The spacious rear seat has good support and decent head room even though the car’s roofline sweeps back in a racy style. The Stinger may not look like a hatchback at first glance, but its rear tailgate opens wide to reveal about 23 cubic feet of space with the rear seat upright. Fold row two and cargo space grows to nearly 41 cubes, which makes the Stinger a proper rival to many crossovers and SUVs.

The well-trimmed interior is dressed in soft-touch materials and low-sheen surfaces that easily embarrass some luxury sedans. Real metal trim on the dash both looks and feels a class above the Stinger’s price point, too. 

Review continues below
8

2020 Kia Stinger

Safety

The 2020 Kia Stinger has performed well in what crash tests, but active safety features really ought to be standard by now.

The 2020 Kia Stinger has done well in the limited crash-testing performed so far, though we are dismayed that the automaker still charges extra for collision-avoidance features standard on most new cars.

Federal testers gave it a five-star overall score. Combined with IIHS results, good outward vision, and good safety options, but one taken back for extra-cost automatic emergency braking, the Stinger gets an 8 for safety.

Every Kia comes with the basics—a slew of airbags and stability control plus blind-spot monitors—but only the pricier GT1 and GT2 trims include automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control. Not fitting this tech to lower trims is a curious oversight considering Kia includes features that can help drivers avoid crashes on many of its less expensive models.

At least the 2020 Stinger has done well in crash tests. The IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick, though the base version’s halogen headlights rate just “Poor.”

Review continues below
9

2020 Kia Stinger

Features

The 2020 Kia Stinger is a bargain in most trims.

The 2020 Kia Stinger is available in a streamlined lineup this year. Four-cylinder models are called GT-Line, while the twin-turbo V-6 is grouped in GT, GT1, and GT2 trims. No matter the Stinger, all say GT outside.

We give it a 9 here, for its wealth of options, its infotainment system, its warranty, and for its value.

Base 2020 Stingers are well-equipped with leather upholstery, power front seats, automatic climate control, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen fitted with intuitive software and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. What they lack is a surprising omission: there’s no active safety tech until you step up to the GT1 trim.

Go all in and the Stinger GT2 lavishes with nappa leather, a head-up display, cooled front seats with additional adjustments, Harman Kardon audio, and more.

We think the smart buy is the GT1, which builds on base cars with active safety tech, digital instrumentation, and an upgraded audio system. Its price stays below $50,000 despite all the included gear, and discounts should be plentiful.

Every Stinger also includes an impressive 5-year, 60,000-mile warranty plus a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Review continues below
5

2020 Kia Stinger

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Kia Stinger is reasonably frugal considering its power output.

The 2020 Kia Stinger won’t earn an award from Greenpeace, but it isn’t as much of a guzzler as its powerful engines would suggest.

It earns a 5 out of 10 on our scale based on the turbo-4. Twin-turbo V-6 2020 Stingers use considerably more fuel, and all Stingers ask for premium fuel.

With rear-wheel drive, the base Stinger is rated by the EPA at 22 mpg city, 29 highway, 25 combined. All-wheel-drive models are only a bit thirstier at 21/29/24 mpg. 

The Stinger’s optional twin-turbo V-6 is rated at 17/25/20 mpg regardless of drive wheels. 

Review continues below
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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$33,090
MSRP based on GT-Line RWD
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7.7
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 8
Features 9
Fuel Economy 5
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