- Excellent performance
- Bargain pricing
- Good looks overall
- Great ride and handling
- Strong safety scores
- Base cars don’t have automatic braking
- Lots of scoops and ducts
- We’d love to see a more powerful version
- Not a track champ
features & specs
The 2021 Kia Stinger puts a pretty face to well-balanced ride and handling.
What kind of car is the 2021 Kia Stinger? What does it compare to?
The 2021 Kia Stinger is a five-seat, five-door hatchback that’s intended as a near-luxury rival to cars like the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class, though it’s much less expensive.
Is the 2021 Kia Stinger a good car?
It’s an excellent touring car with a swell ride, strong V-6 acceleration, and a huge cargo hold, thanks to the hatchback body. We give it a TCC Rating of 7.0 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
What’s new for the 2021 Kia Stinger?
Nothing—it’s been carried over with no changes for the new model year.
Kia wraps a beautiful body around its Stinger mechanicals, but tosses in one too many styling tricks for our taste. It’s a very good-looking car that steps on its own shoelaces on the way to greatness. The interior’s more subdued, but bristles with technology, including a big touchscreen mounted on the dash.
Kia sells the Stinger in turbo-4 and twin-turbo V-6 spec. GT-Line cars have the 255-horsepower turbo-4, good for 0-60 mph times in the sub-seven-second range. It’s coupled to an 8-speed automatic and rear- or all-wheel drive. But, trust us, you’ll want the 365-hp 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6. It can hurl the car to 60 mph in about 4.7 seconds, with unruffled automatic shifts marking the time or paddle shifters clicking away if you like. The Stinger handles very well on the open road, but deeply knotted bends and track hairpins aren’t its best look. Its suspension is dialed in for comfort with a good degree of precision, not the reverse. We think wider tires and more adventurous transmission programming would unleash its inner boy racer, but as it is it’s a joy to thread through back roads.
Stinger drivers will groove instead on its spacious interior. Kia fits the Stinger with very good front and back seats wrapped in leather, and then cuts a hatchback into the rear end for expansive cargo space. Pity that Kia omits automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control from all but the GT1 and GT2 cars—but crash test scores have been good.
How much does the 2021 Kia Stinger cost?
It’s $34,125 for the base Stinger GT-Line, which has leather upholstery, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and power front seats—but no automatic emergency braking. We prefer the $46,525 Kia Stinger GT1, which gets automatic emergency braking and digital gauges, as well as Kia’s excellent 5-year/60,000-mile warranty.
Where is the 2021 Kia Stinger made?
In South Korea.
2021 Kia Stinger
Lithe and lean, the Stinger dresses for success.
Is the Kia Stinger a good-looking car?
The Stinger hasn’t changed its look since it was new for the 2018 model year. Perfect. Stay there. It’s attractive inside and out, so we give it two extra points for the body and one for the cabin and call it an 8.
The Stinger’s streamlined hatchback shape hardly puts a foot wrong. The long hood and short overhang in front connect to a roofline that arrows toward a very short lip at the tailgate. Chrome glints off the roof pillars to remove some of the visual weight, and the taillights have an attractive design. Kia festoons the Stinger with a few too many ducts and flares, but it’s still quite good-looking. Maserati probably worries that it’s been owned here.
The Stinger cockpit adopts some standard German styling cues, like the big round air vents. It’s adorned withsome bright bits that float on a sea of black-on-black in base models. But its controls are clearly laid out and simple to operate, and nicer models get soft nappa leather and metal bands of trim.
2021 Kia Stinger
The Stinger’s happier on the road than on the track.
With strong straight-line acceleration, a grippy set of tires and a compliant suspension, the Stinger’s well suited to weekend back-road flings, but it’s no track star. We give it an 8, with two points for its most popular powertrain, and one for its ride quality.
How fast is the Kia Stinger?
The Stinger GT-Line shares its 255-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 with the Genesis G70, as well as its 8-speed automatic transmission. The duo works well together and delivers decent grunt, but we prefer the twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 that’s standard on GT, GT1, and GT2 cars. It’s stout, with 365 hp that comes on rapidly to push the Stinger to 60 mph in about 4.7 seconds, and onward to a 167-mph top speed. Low-speed torque gives it sharp off-the-line acceleration, and the 8-speed clicks off rapid-fire gear changes when the Stinger’s set into Sport mode.
Is the Kia Stinger 4WD?
Most Stingers are rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is a fairly inexpensive option that boosts confidence on slippery roads and gives the Stinger better grip in most situations. The V-6 Stinger gets a limited-slip rear differential and brake-based torque-vectoring when it’s configured with all-wheel drive.
Those drive modes remap its throttle, add weight to its steering, and speed up shifts to give the Stinger more of an edge. It’s exciting, but the Stinger can’t put all of it to use. It’s well suited to the comfortable, neutral handling required from winding back roads, but in track situations the Stinger feels bigger and less coordinated through its front strut and five-link rear suspension. The ride’s composed, the steering quick enough—but the Stinger’s tires let go early, and even in Sport mode the transmission doesn’t always want to dig into a lower gear or hit higher rpm in the interests of corner exit speed.
2021 Kia Stinger
Comfort & Quality
The Stinger’s hatchback body turns utility into beauty.
It’s easy to forget the Stinger’s a high-capacity hatchback, given its pretty shape. We think it’s comfortable too, and give it an 8 here, with extra points for front seats, cargo space, and quality.
The Stinger stretches about 190 inches in length, which puts it close to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5-Series. It hides its size well, though it’s a lot bigger than its company kin, the Genesis G70.
All Stingers get power-adjustable front seats with leather upholstery and firm padding. Higher-priced models come with even more adjustable chairs, nappa leather, and heating and cooling. They’re surrounded by good head and knee room, too.
The rear seat is spacious as well, and it’s supportive even though the Stinger’s low roofline looks as if it cuts into head room. It does, but not by a lot: Six-footers can sit behind other 6-footers. It’s not quite wide enough to hold three large adults, but three mediums won’t mind a cross-town trip (insert psychic joke here).
The Stinger’s tailgate opens to a cargo hold with about 23 cubic feet of room when the rear seat’s in use. Fold it down and the Stinger can hold nearly 41 cubic feet of things, more than some crossover SUVs.
It does it with panache, too. The interior’s trimmed in soft leather and metallic trim, with a low sheen that makes glitzier cars look a little too showy.
2021 Kia Stinger
The Stinger crashes well, but Kia omits life-saving hardware from base models.
How safe is the Kia Stinger?
The Stinger has earned very good crash-test scores, but the lack of standard automatic emergency braking shaves a point from its scores here. It’s a 6.
The NHTSA awards it five stars overall, with a single four-star rating for front passenger protection. All but the base models earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick rating; the base cars have “Poor” headlights, according to the agency.
All Stingers come with blind-spot monitors, but automatic emergency braking isn’t offered on any GT-Line or GT cars. The GT1 and GT2 also offer adaptive cruise control and active lane control, and the GT2 comes standard with a surround-view camera system. The omissions are odd, and cut into the Stinger’s value.
2021 Kia Stinger
The Stinger excels in equipment and value.
Last year Kia streamlined the Stinger lineup by engine: GT-Line cars came as turbo-4s, and GT, GT1, and GT2 trims came with V-6 engines. It’s the same for 2021, and this year as before, every Stinger offers lots of standard features and options, an excellent warranty, and great infotainment. It’s only missing a point for value—we think it’s best in a version that costs more than the average new car.
The base $34,125 Stinger GT comes with power front seats, leather upholstery, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. But the GT editions lack standard automatic emergency braking, and it’s not available until you select the GT1 trim or higher.
Which Kia Stinger should I buy?
We like the $46,525 GT1, which adds on standard automatic emergency braking, upgraded audio, and a digital gauge cluster.
How much is a fully loaded Kia Stinger?
The $53,625 Stinger GT2 ladles on standard features such as a head-up display, nappa leather, cooled front seats, a surround-view camera system, and Harman/Kardon audio.
The Stinger comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty.
2021 Kia Stinger
The Stinger earns reasonable EPA ratings.
Is the Kia Stinger good on gas?
The Stinger won’t win any awards for conservation, but it’s not as thirsty as its sport-sedan credentials might imply. We give it a 3 for fuel economy, since its rear-drive turbo-4 gets EPA ratings of 22 mpg city, 29 highway, 25 combined. With all-wheel drive it dips to 21/29/24 mpg. The V-6 Stinger, with either AWD or RWD, checks in at 17/25/20 mpg.